Long-form video sharing + network attached storage = a new TV channel.
Veoh.com was the first video-sharing site to feature long-form videos (>10 minutes), but when YouTube embraced long-form video, it was big news for people making video. Another development has been happening slowly, so it hardly appears as a blip on the news radar. It’s about couches and TV sets.
On February 17, 2009, VHF and UHF will no longer broadcast analog NTSC video. This is interesting, but more exciting is the fact that most HDTV sets are easily connectible to the home computer network, and this will change TV viewing forever.
Most people are familiar with digital video recorders (DVRs). TiVo (and ReplayTV) did a great job of introducing the masses to recording video on hard drives for watching TV shows on their own schedules. This actually began with VCRs; it was called time-shifting or timeslip, and it let viewers record broadcast, cable or satellite TV on hard drives in an appliance, the DVR.
Recently, TiVo and other DVR manufacturers have enabled video downloading from the internet. Amazon and Netflix provide solutions for downloading video to a DVR. This delivers more control to the TV viewer, but also benefits video creators: it’s easier to share videos on the internet and onto TV.
Network-Attached Storage (NAS) is allowing the DVR itself to become decentralized. Several home-networking companies (Linksys, Netgear, Buffalo, etc.) are selling more NAS devices. A terabyte is about $250 – enough space to store 1500 hours of standard-definition video. The most important aspect of using NAS to store downloaded video is the ability to surf the video-sharing sites, download the video and then play that video on your TV set connected to the home network.
Just a few years ago, it was prohibitively expensive for independent video creators to deliver their video to a mass audience in their living rooms. First, there was the clunky VHS tape, then came the sleek DVD, but it is still costly to deliver molecules compared to electrons. DVDs cost $1 to duplicate and $1 to mail. Sharing videos via the internet is free.
As this process becomes more seamless, an incredible opportunity will arise for video producers to build audiences large enough to generate revenue from advertising. Searching the internet for interesting videos will become so easy, it will be a tiny part of people’s regular activities. After using things like cell phones to learn about videos their friends like, viewers will tell their NAS to download those videos, and they can watch them on TV the next time they sit on the couch.
In the near future, the large TV networks will feel the pinch from small TV internetworks and even individual video producers.
Matthew York is Videomaker‘s Publisher/Editor.