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Standardizing the Look & Feel of Internet TV

In-Stat reports that everybody who has access to the Internet now appears to be watching some kind of Broadcast TV video on their PC. This trend will escalate further in the coming months.

Meanwhile, Viacom challenged YouTube over the unauthorized use of clips from "The Daily Show" and the "Colbert Report." Ironically, former Viacom subsidiary, CBS, is regularly posting clips from "Late Night with David Letterman." NBC has cut a deal with YouTube to help promote "Saturday Night Live." Of course, Fox TV owns and operates MySpace.com, which reports over 100 million users.

Fox has used MySpace.com to reach out to young people, who are now tuning in MyNetworkTV on what used to be the WB network of local TV stations. All of these TV networks are seeing increased viewership of their traditional linear TV Broadcasts as a result of putting their video clips onto the Internet.

People see the clip on demand, decide they'd like to see more, and then view the linear broadcast. But, all this involvement by major Broadcast TV content owners may eventually change the playing field for the traditional Internet-focused web content portal player.

According to In-Stat's research, there are several key reasons for the imminent change. A programming executive at a TV station owns their entire on-screen display area. An advertisement that plays during a linear Broadcast TV show gets the whole screen, and are guaranteed that no other competing ads will occur at the same time.

Now take a look at your typical online web portal. The computer screen is cluttered with animated banner ads at the top, promotional messages on the right hand side, links to breaking news stories on the left hand side, and the story you actually want to read requires that you scroll down to see it.

Even then, pop-up ads intrude, and animated flash ads fly around to distract your eyes. If you happen to click on "See the Video" you're subjected to a 15 second automobile ad, and you may not be permitted to make the video full-screen in size. This means that, even while you are watching the video, your eyes are being distracted by all the busy visual activity.

Broadcast TV has a fifty-plus year tradition of selling advertisers the right to have 100 percent of a viewer's attention. They're unlikely to cede that capability when their video gets shown on Yahoo!, Google, AOL, or MSN. So, In-Stat concludes: everything old, is new again.

This motivates the industry to set up a complex and large set of negotiations that will need to address how your on-screen display gets managed when traditional Broadcast TV programming becomes mainstream on the Internet.

Advertisers, of course, are excited about having their ad follow ABC's "Lost" onto the Internet; because that extends the social cachet that the ad brings to their product. However, they won't want their ad sharing space with competing products or inappropriate sidebar content.

Everybody who wants to have access to Broadcast TV content on their web site is going to have to figure out ways to protect the user experience. In-Stat expects to see a wave of announcements coming during 2007, of initiatives to standardize the look and feel of how Broadcast TV content is presented on mainstream web portals.

There will be space for start-up companies with innovative ideas, and some major players will also announce Broadcast-to-Internet initiatives. In-Stat believes that online portals will need to come up with a standardized template that somehow gives the Broadcast TV content owner control over the look and feel of a page, at least while the Broadcast TV content is in use.

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