Streaming’s Decline Is New Media’s Gain

Was on the phone with a business partner today. We were lamenting some of the funny little trends in our industry.

And then a few things hit me.

And, as always, I thought I’d share:

So much (I’d say like 95%) of our paradigm for media over the Internet comes with heavy dose of old school streaming baggage.

You know the drill – most people think the servers for Podcasting are somehow more expensive than traditional servers. They think in terms of how may simultaneous streams can/should be handled, etc.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told the Podcasting story, was forced to relate it to streaming, and when I explained how much better our model is, ended up with an audience who simply wouldn’t believe. “It can’t be that easy” has always been in the back of their minds.

There are basically only two things “streaming servers” bring to the table these days: 1) The ability to do a “live event” when a “live event” was/is needed and 2) The “permission” from the RIAA to stream their music.

Well we all know #2 is quickly going the way of the dinosaur.

So, the “live” event.

Services like PhoneAndWebcast.com (AFFILIATE LINK) have made that possible and obscenely easy. For $50 a month I can “stream” to 2000 people at once. If I need more, that’s easy too. And who needs player compatiblity and format issues – it’s an MP3 stream – I can run it through Windows Media Player, Apple iTunes, WinAmp – it don’t matter.

I can stream for pennies of what it used to cost. Pennies.

There’s a funny little thread at Techmeme right now that paid video services have “no future.” It comes from a well-timed Forrester report that claims the future of video is, again, streaming.

I need to remind you where streaming came from.

A history lesson if you will.

See, for a long time, we had no choice but to stream. Internet was so stinking slow that our best bet for media delivery was to through a lot of money on machines that could delivery a second of (low bitrate quality) content every second. We could then cache about 10 seconds and start the “show.” It was as expensive as a Jim Edwards haircut, but it worked.

Jim Edwards’ haircut made him look a lot better than early streaming platforms ever made the people who ponied up the big bucks to make it happen – but that, too, is another story.

But, again, we streamed because we had no choice. Nobody would put up with a 5 hour download for an album.

But, see, we don’t need that anymore.

Songs download in less than a minute. Television shows show up in 5 minutes. Services like Amazon Unbox let us start playing just a minute or two into the download.

Streaming, as we knew/know it, is moot.

It’s kinda like those floppy drives – when was the last time you used yours? Sure, I could send you some stuff via floppy but in the time it would take you to load it, I could have sent ten times as much via the Web.

So, streaming as we know/knew it is moot.

The stuff we could only get over stream now is unaffordable to stream.

Streaming is moot.

That’s o.k., that’s good.

Because it only means that Podcasting is on her way up.

The Forrester report is fascinating. Notice how the “implications” make one segment of the market very happy. Notice how they simply don’t ask this question:

How could 6 streamed commercials make NBC more money on a “The Office” episode than selling it at iTunes for a $1.99? We’re not that stupid.

Now for the geeks in the audience, I know where you’re going to go. Paul, what about …

Flash Video Stuff

or

Microsoft Silverlight

or whatever Java has dreamed up to “compete.”

There are a place for these things – but they are all about connected experiences.

Because everyone in the world wants to watch tv on their computer, right?

Wrong.

They just did, in the past, because that was their only option.

We have more options now.

I’d love your thoughts?

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