AUGUST 2005 IN
RICK ASTER’S WORLD

A Web Site With a TV Channel

Its TV channel is now live, but most of its viewers are still watching it on the web site. Current, which started broadcasting August 1, is one of the first TV channels to discover the new center of television, which suddenly is the World Wide Web.

Current has been delivering video and related content to web site visitors all year long and continues to do so even as the cable channel is now available on cable systems across the United States. Its initial cable penetration is limited, however, which means that most viewers can still see it only on the web site. And that is not as big a liability as it might have been just a year ago.

With high-speed Internet connections rapidly becoming the norm, more viewers are looking for television content online, and finding it. The web sites of such familiar cable channels as CNN and MTV now contain enormous amounts of video content, including segments that will never be broadcast.

For other television channels, web sites are becoming the most important way for viewers to find out what shows are on. Meanwhile, video content is moving around the network in other ways. Viewers in increasing numbers are downloading unauthorized copies of television shows, and iTunes Music Store is trying to position itself as a place to buy song videos.

The amount of television content available is increasing almost as rapidly as the cost of video equipment is declining. Current is banking on this trend as it seeks to acquire many of its segments, some just three minutes long, from the independent videographers among its own audience.

As it continues to negotiate deals with cable systems, Current probably would not want to be known as a web site with a TV channel, but at the moment, that is a fair description of what it is. A web-oriented business model for television is sure to become much more common over the next two years.


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