Stuart Dredge writes…
Online TV firm Joost is doubtless proud of its deal with Viacom to stream new VH1 sitcom ‘I Hate My 30s’ ten days before it premieres on VH1’s actual TV channel. And it’s true that every deal these Telly 2.0 companies sign with traditional broadcasters shows that for once, Big Media is trying to work with new technology, rather than just ban it.
And yet, and yet… Shouldn’t online TV be about more than just streaming the same shows you can watch on your normal telly? Sure, watching big shows like 24, Desperate Housewives or (in the UK) Eastenders and Corrie through a slick Web 2.0 interface is technically impressive, but I can do that in my living room, thanks.
I wonder if the big broadcasters see Joost, Babelgum, VeohTV and their rivals as either a.) a promotional opportunity to drum up some buzz around shows airing on ‘proper’ TV, or b.) a chance to make some more money out of their archives. If so, it’s selling us users short.
Two things I want from a service like Joost. First, I want new stuff. Crazy user-generated shows, niche content, and programmes so strange and creative that they wouldn’t be allowed within miles of a ‘reputable’ TV producer. I want to see established TV stars trying out new ideas first online, and new talent breaking through.
Second, I want interactivity. I want live chat around shows, mash-ups of Miss Marple with The Office, I want someone to do an online-only Big Brother with real-time voting built into the interface, and 101 other ideas that are still just a spark in coders’ eyes.
What I don’t want – and surely there must be plenty of Telly 2.0 users who agree with me – is for services like Joost to become just another place to watch Desperate Housewives. Okay, so it’s the big shows that’ll draw the advertising to fund these services, but if that’s all they’re about, then web users won’t be drawn in.
I guess the argument is that having the big series on something like Joost brings in the ad dollars to fund the more creative, original stuff I’m hankering after. It’s a seductive theory, but it remains to be seen if it works in practice.
Stuart Dredge is editor-in-chief of Tech Digest, and is still racking his brains for an online TV idea that’ll make him famous.
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