As broadcast television and online video continues to converge, will we be watching TV shows on our computer or will we be surfing the net on our TV? Paul Graham places his bets on the computer in the post, Why TV Lost. He writes, “About twenty years ago people noticed computers and TV were on a collision course and started to speculate about what they'd produce when they converged. We now know the answer: computers. It's clear now that even by using the word "convergence" we were giving TV too much credit. This won't be convergence so much as replacement. People may still watch things they call "TV shows," but they'll watch them mostly on computers.”
Paul attributes the victory of computers over television sets to four factors. The first reason is the open market place created by the Web. Anyone can build what they what so innovation and speed is on the side of computers. This make sense so far.
Second, is Moore's Law, which has worked its usual magic on Internet bandwidth allowing for fast access to video. (see my post, When Online Video Consumption Moves to Exabytes in 8 Years: Will Phones, TV, Music Player, and Computers Really Converge? and ReadWriteWeb, Online Video Consumption Will be Measured in Exabytes). One other winner might actually be the hand held device formerly known as the telephone.
Paul writes that the third reason computers won is piracy. Users prefer it not only because it's free, but because it's more convenient. YouTube has already trained a new generation of viewers (off all ages) that the best place to watch shows is on a computer screen.
He writes that these first three are predictable. The fourth, and less predictable one, is social media. I have already written about social media can enhance television (See How Social Media is Changing Late Night TV Landscape and Much More and Twitter Takes on Television Making It More Social. People like to discuss and share their views on shows and other things than appear on television such as political and sports events. Social media offers the means to do this.
He closes with an interesting point. Television shows will change dramatically when they come through the Web. He writes, “On the Internet there's no reason to keep their current format, or even the fact that they have a single format. We'll get whatever the most imaginative people can cook up. That's why the Internet won.”
Television through computers will basically be a new medium. The networks will no longer be gatekeepers but that is just the start. Radio first offered stage shows and television first offered radio shows until the new medium found its own capabilities. I wonder what “television” through computers will do?