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The Age of Internet Television

By Andrew D. Wright

Television. Of all the influential inventions of the twentieth century, television has been changed the most by the internet and technology.

At first the internet was a reference source for television. Sites like the IMDB or Internet Movie DataBase give detailed movie listings, searchable stars and user comments on films and TV. Other sites such as produce searchable indexes of TV series episodes.

Then the internet started to become television. And that's when the fun really started.

As information compression got better, high-speed internet access became more widespread and data storage costs dropped through the floor, people suddenly figured out ways to share TV shows with each other.

Television producers were horrified at first. They saw no money from people swapping their shows on the internet. Then some of the brighter ones started to see opportunity.

iTunes now sells downloadable episodes of many popular shows the day after they air for about the same price as the blank discount video tape it would take to record the program off air.

Internet previews have become popular as well. A TV show might have the first ten minutes of a new season online for download before the show airs, as a teaser.

A TV show is no longer just a TV show. It's the show, the stars, the producers, their blogs, the show website, the DVD extras, the website extras, the iTunes listing and the fan sites. Plus all the other standard publicity material for the magazines and news digests.

Some producers of TV shows and movies now are as well known as the actors alone used to be.

Meanwhile, out in the rest of the world, people have been discovering that they can make their own television. Digital video puts the creation of new material in the hands of pretty much anyone, and I do mean anyone while distribution prices have been slashed thanks to bit-torrent technology and free hosting.

Bit-torrent programs distribute the download of a large file amongst all the different people downloading it, greatly speeding up the download while reducing the bandwidth costs of the original source.

Free hosting sites for video such as YouTube offer small, lower resolution videos for viewing. The popularity of such sites has exploded and Google, MSN, and Yahoo all have such video hosting.

Such home brew TV can achieve massive success. YouTube was showing more than 100 million videos a day in July 2006, which according to them represents some 60% of the total videos watched online. The sixty person California company started up in 2005 now receives more than 65,000 new videos a day to host, each up to only ten minutes long.

The Finnish fan-filmed parody movie Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning spoofing Star Trek and Babylon 5 became the most popular Finnish language movie in history with an estimated four million downloads and an unknowable number of post-download distributed copies.

Internet Movie DataBase:

Episode Guides:



Star Wreck: