TV: Online?

People are opting to drop their pay TV service (cable/satellite) and watch it online via the Internet — or free over-the-air. So much so that CNN has picked up on it:

Data show that increasing numbers of people relying on the Internet for at least some of their TV viewing. Users watched more than 24 million videos on Hulu in December, a record for the fledgling company. And Joost users viewed 818,000 hours of video in January, up 25 percent from the previous month, a spokesman said.

A recent survey of 3,000 prime-time TV watchers by Integrated Media Measurements Inc., an audience tracker, found that 20 percent watched some TV online.

Don’t think cable companies haven’t taken notice. Comcast launched Fancast, its online TV player, last year to show such hit shows as “CSI: Miami” and “30 Rock.”

“We embrace the online world as much as the offline world,” said Mary Nell Westbrook, senior director of consumer communications for Comcast.

But one thing is certain: The landscape is shifting. And Internet TV services believe that time is on their side.

“The Internet as a TV provider is in its infancy,” said Mike Volpi, CEO of Joost. “We believe that [in the future,] the majority of TV will be viewed over the Internet. It’s mostly cost, but it’s also convenience. People want to be able to travel and move about while watching TV.”

A la carte channel choices and more flexibility in packaging channels is something customers have little power over, so why not take over? The customer is taking over and dropping pay TV services, and but keeping Internet service. Now they watch what they want, when they want, and where they want.  Come to think of it, that was the mantra we used at SES AMERICOM in developing the IP-PRIME service. It was an all-MPEG-4 IPTV service, fully capable of being viewed on any device. Too bad it’s about to die.

Check TV Guide’s online video site for which TV shows available for viewing. Read some of the comments to this Engadget post from December for more.

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YouTube: YouSell DVDs

Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Remember that British import from the 70’s? We’d watch it religiously on the local PBS affiliate in the New York (WNET, “channel 13”).

A couple of months ago, Monty Python launched their YouTube channel and it’s become rather popular. The YouTube blog post on their “click to buy” program is getting results, specially for Monty Python:

We’re happy when we can help YouTube users enjoy the content they love, and we’re happy when we can help our partners build their businesses online – but we’re happiest when we can do both.

That’s why last year we launched our eCommerce platform for YouTube, which allows users to easily “click-to-buy” products — like songs and movies — related to the content they’re watching on the site. The past few months have demonstrated that great content on YouTube leads to increased sales. For example, when Monty Python launched their channel in November, not only did their YouTube videos shoot to the top of the most viewed lists, but their DVDs also quickly climbed to No. 2 on Amazon’s Movies & TV bestsellers list, with increased sales of 23,000 percent.

Nice sales increase.

Having clips up on video-sharing sites is good for business. Relentlessly pursuing “takedown” requests, one might argue, is counter-productive. I know I’ve had such requests in the past on clips I got from NASA, which is in the public domain. They’re still up, but the takedown requests can be a nuisance.

If people are profiting from pirated content, well that’s clearly a crime…