Monday, May 7, 2007

The Video's Playing. Does Anybody Care?

Monday's New York Times had a number of articles about the state of video on the Internet especially on mobile devices. Too bad they were scattered through the Business section because together the stories provide a snapshot of where the industry is.

For instance I learned that although there are 208 million wireless customers in the United States only 656,000 downloaded videos. The faves:

1. Movie trailers
2. Music videos
3. Sports action or news
4. Local/national/world news
5. Comedy videos
6. Weather information
7. Entertainment/celebrity
8. Animation or cartoons
9. TV highlights
10. Amateur video clips

The Times also informed me that Hollywood Loves the Tiny Screen. Advertisers Don't. The complaint is that producers are willing to create content, like special wireless episodes of Smallville, but nobody (except for the wireless companies who are pushing the technology) wants to pony-up the advertising dollars. Maybe it's because larger advertisers know the truth borne out by the statistics quoted above -- no one's watching.

Contrast that to the web where video is the ongoing craze. You Tube sold for nearly $1.5 billion to Google -- a sucker that's now stuck with all the lawsuits. As the Times duly reports more dumb money is coming into the picture: Want to See That Shot Again? Download it for $3. It seems the NBA is letting fans purchase videos of play-off games for $3 each.

Here's a question for the digital age: How many people will download an old basketball/football/baseball/hockey game. Answer: Not many.

The sad truth in all of the above examples is that very few people want to pay out of their pocket to watch small sized premium videos away from the television.

Although I see many commuters on my train ride watching movies on portable video players, wireless equipment has to become better and faster before mobile videos will catch on with the masses.

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