At the beginning of the 21st century, Internet technology has increased the availability of television programming options for households. Particularly, specialty channels (e.g., news, sports, and music) have become quite successful. Web TV, IPTV technology, and Internet-based television have created new opportunities for both consumers and marketers to deliver their products faster and cheaper. The Web becomes so universal that a TV viewer can assess hundreds of programs from all countries in the world. There are hundreds of TV websites devoted to keeping viewers informed about a range of programs, related merchandise, news, and fun activities. Many websites have a TV calendar with up-to-the-minute scheduling information on the latest programs on web television, plus episode summaries, news, a ‘what’s hot’ gossip column, various games, e-cards, and bulletin boards.
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The Web TV, IPTV, and Internet-Based Channels
‘IPTV describes a system capable of receiving and displaying a video stream encoded as a series of Internet Protocol packets” (Anderson 2006). This definition allows us to the seat that television thrives on new formats, and, television often changes itself, feeding off successful genres and formats to create new hybrid programs. The industry terms of factual entertainment and popular web television are umbrella categories for a range of formatted as well as non-formatted programs and series. WebTV means a “thin client which uses a television for display” (Held, 2006). The main advantage of this technology is its low cost. This technology allows millions of viewers to assess TV channels and have an Internet connection. Following Noam et al (2004): “Internet TV is the adoption of an Internet-like interface in accessing and watching television —a new form of video navigation over the Internet. Internet TV is a more interactive approach to controlling the television experience with the ability to obtain all sorts of ancillary information while watching television, as promoted by Wink Communications” (p.4). For instance, American Cybercast wanted to develop a name brand in cyberspace for entertainment episodes the way TV networks have. But building strong online brands would not prove easy. Trying to accomplish such a feat when the Internet penetration was still relatively low, with low access speed and a broadcast business model was a heroic but doomed enterprise (Held 2006).
Impact of the Web TV, IPTV and Internet-Based Television on Societies and Economies
Economic change in the US syndication market is another factor in the success of reality programming. As a result of the deregulation of the financial interest and syndication rules during the past decade, larger corporations have bought up many local stations. Local stations provided a significant revenue source for independent producers, who would sell programs specifically made for local stations, and/or programs that had previously been aired on network stations. As long as Web TV and IPTV have become a mainstream items in American households, there is a natural tendency in a new medium to exploit the pre- Internet business models which were perceived as safer and less risky. The Internet’s early military and research communities no longer held a monopoly on electronic communications. By the turn of the 1990s, the privatization of the Internet prompted online service providers (OSPs) to provide simplified access to cyberspace. EmulatIing the pioneering example of WELL, America Online extended the model to commercial virtual communities. The Internet was not just about context or content, it was about communication (Held 2006).
Today, Web TV, IPTV, and Internet-Based Channels have transformed traditional television industries and demanded new forms and methods of interaction. Diverse target audiences and channels of communication increase competition and rivalry within the industry. For instance, “For IPTV to become a viable whole-house solution, it will also need to support enough simultaneous channels to allow televisions in different rooms to display different content, that will be attractive to consumers” (Anderson 2006). It is possible to say that the internet technologies created the create internet television industries growing with and depending upon the Internet industry. It is possible to note that: “Horizontal bundling strategies may allow firms to engage in certain forms of price discrimination. Moreover, horizontal bundling strategies can affect the nature of competition between service providers. A firm can gain strategic advantage by selling a bundle in competition with a collection of firms selling individual components” (Noam 2004, p. 43).
Many Internet-based channels offer a fare that is influenced by U.S. culture. This apparent paradox has happened during a time whereby geographical boundaries have become less of a hurdle against reaching beyond national markets thanks to technology but, in contrast, cultural differences in tastes such as music have resulted in further segmentation of markets. Accordingly, music channels with substantial local content and news channels focusing on national or regional issues have blossomed (Noam et al 2006).
Impact of Communities and Cultural Diversity
The crisis in philosophy and other social sciences is influencing postmodern culture as represented by technology and art. As such, entertainment has shifted to new genres and forms. Ultimately, entertainment in cyberspace will be a reflection of the facets of television offered on several channels. Moreover, as much as television has been influenced by culture as far as content and advertising are concerned, the Internet may also be influenced. Because of the push by television into the cyberspace world, entertainment between TV and cyberspace may become complementary in many markets (Noam et al 2006).
IPTV and Web TV have the potential to change organizational communications’ meanings and relations, to support new ways of conducting work, and to foster new genres of media use In turn, IPTV and Web TV, like traditional media, maybe altered through institutional and individual transformations. Most important is that cultural values, attitudes, language, semantics, moral development, and the interpretation of events as they occur on IPTV and Web TV can influence the direction viewers are headed. The development of an individual’s values is grounded in the culture in which he or she is raised. Culture, which is often understood as an analytical variable at a national level, refers to the values of individuals or a group. Cultural values are usually internalized to varying degrees by different members of society. In addition to the dominance of English in international trade (see the following section), the convergence theory suggests that with increased development in industrialized countries, people’s attitudes may become similar. Accordingly, one might assume that cyberspace consumers or users may display similar attitudes and educational levels. However, research has shown that computer users in two countries that share similar levels of economic development and language (i.e., Canada and the United States) can have different concerns about how the technology invades their workspace, privacy, and quality of work life. For instance, in 1995, Video Online marked the beginning of a global Internet service provider making most of the information and databases available to consumers in languages including English, French, German, and Russian. Although they were not perfect, they were and still are culturally sensitive enough to enable the service to reach a far wider audience than it could have by using only the home country’s language. As for the content, Noam et al (2004) point out that “the increase in distribution capacity provides the opportunity to offer shows highly valued by relatively small numbers of potential viewers. Thus, niche programming targeted at particular viewers’ interests will be offered” (p. 44).
The accuracy and honesty of news, documentary, and popular factual programming forms the basis of much debate within the media itself. IPTV viewers are part of the critical evaluation of factual genres, and their ability to question and debate the truth claims of audio-visual documentation is vital to the continuation of factual programming. Thus, ‘the documentary genre depends on a series of assertions of the truthfulness of its material, and the criteria of truthfulness differ between cultures and historical periods’ (ibid.). A ‘criterion of truthfulness’ can be applied to news, as well as to documentary or reality programming. A reality mode of engagement is characterized by a contradictory response that is based on audience assessment of the authenticity of real people’s stories and situations within the environment of IPTV. This mode of engagement involves criticism of the truth claims of reality programming, but also some degree of trust in the adage ‘truth will out.
The Web TV, IPTV, and Internet-based channels have had a reinforcing effect on the emergence of global mass communication as they have also tended to accelerate business activities on the Web to the extent that the Web is likely to have a positive effect on global mass media. The Web TV and IPTV are a powerful enabling force that enables the use of similar ideas in different corners of the world. It also moves television into real-time and forces marketers into an interactive mode. The emergence of the Internet and the rapid globalization of macroeconomic environments have served to “tighten” the dynamics of competitive advantage in global competition. Individually and as a system, these determinants have accounted for the pressures on firms to invest and innovate.
Anderson, N. 2006. An introduction to IPTV.
Held, G. 2006. Understanding IPTV. AUERBACH.
Noam, E., Groebel, J., & Gerbarg, D. (Eds.). 2004. Internet Television. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.