CANNES (France), April 5: Forget the TV, tomorrow’s screen of preference will probably be the Internet, AOL chief Jonathan Miller predicted at the influential “MIPTV featuring MILIA” trade show here. “Video consumption is exploding on-line and on-demand is going to be the dominant way to consume content,” Miller said in a keynote speech late Tuesday.

On Wednesday he was to be awarded the show’s inaugural Pioneer Prize at the first-ever International Interactive Emmy Awards ceremony for AOL’s innovative, high-quality live Web coverage of the 2005 global Live 8 rock concerts.

Live 8 “was the starting gun that showed that the Internet is a mass entertainment medium, very different from TV, because people could watch any of the concerts going on around the world,” Miller told the conference.

Not only did AOL deliver 175,000 simultaneously high-quality video streams to users in 160 countries at the height of the concerts, but there were also 90 million video streams of concert footage watched by AOL users in the six weeks after the event.

Internet users are also showing that they want to consume and watch entertainment in different ways today, Miller said.

Live 8 triggered almost 15,000 Internet blogs on AOL between users watching the concerts and wanting to exchange their comments and feelings with others around the globe.

“The industry is in the middle of a truly massive change,” Miller emphasised.

“We will see video-on-demand (VOD) becoming dominant in the next few years,” he said, adding on-demand programming is clearly what viewers want.

His prediction was backed Wednesday with the release of a new study ordered by France’s National Cinematography Centre which found that the video-on-demand market in Europe is gathering strength.

From 2002 to 2005, the number of VOD suppliers increased 10 times, although availability varies hugely from country to country.

The strongest VOD markets in Europe are Britain and Germany, with at least 2,000 films and programmes available in both countries, compared with some 700 in France. This compares to a traditional rental shop which has around 400 titles to choose from.

The economic stakes are high as the VOD market could “majorly transform the method of access to programmes” and create a major upheaval in the sector, the study said.

The digital revolution, the increasing use of broadband and a better compression of data, are driving this “personalised television”, the report said after studying the growth of VOD in 10 European countries.

Consumers were now being pushed into the driving seat as “prime (TV) time will morph into my time” and everything will go portable, agreed Miller.

Owned by entertainment giant Time Warner, AOL has been actively moving into the video space since its Live 8 scoop with its recently launched In2TV entertainment service.

Miller demonstrated that AOL is successfully increasing the video quality of the massive Time Warner video library that it recently put online to its users.

That is good news for users but not so great for the TV world, which had been hoping the current poorer viewing experience on the Internet might persuade viewers to stay with more traditional screens.

Big entertainment companies attending the show will also not be reassured to learn that AOL is financing its major foray into TV though advertising, the very heart blood of the TV industry.

Miller and reality TV guru Mark Burnett, the brains behind smash hit reality formats as “The Apprentice” and “Survivor”, revealed that companies are lining up to switch their advertising budgets into the entertainment offerings of Internet giants like AOL.

According to the CNC report, VOD is attracting many new operators from telecoms companies to Internet search engines as well as the traditional players, the cable and satellite operators.

For the operators VOD is an extra way of getting revenue by charging consumers, all-be-it at often low prices between 1.5 and 5 euros, while also keeping customers happy by offering them greater choice.

But Bruno Thibaudeau, director of development for the French group Canal+, said he was convinced new technologies were compatible with the traditional television set.

“Today’s technologies allow us to respond to a basic trend, that next to the traditional screen there will be an individual consumption on different screens from the PC, the portable phones and players,” he said.—AFP

Opinion

Editorial

Beyond the pale
Updated 09 Aug, 2022

Beyond the pale

When such ugliness is unleashed, everyone at some point suffers the fallout.
Burying Gaza
09 Aug, 2022

Burying Gaza

IT is a sad commentary on the politics of the Middle East that even its most tragic human stories get defaced and...
Celebrate the athlete
09 Aug, 2022

Celebrate the athlete

TALK about delivering on your promise: javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem did that in the grandest style at the...
An unseemly dispute
08 Aug, 2022

An unseemly dispute

THERE is clarity, but perhaps not of the kind that Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial hoped to achieve when...
Unfair on taxpayers
Updated 08 Aug, 2022

Unfair on taxpayers

Unfair move has drawn valid criticism as it coincides with drastic increase in income tax on salaried people and corporates.
Polio nightmare
08 Aug, 2022

Polio nightmare

AS if the resurgence of polio in southern KP were not enough, officials and international monitoring bodies must now...