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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 947

The Demise of TV: video streaming sites accelerate the endgame

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com and the most innovative, living-technical visionary of our time, is doing what exactly late Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, used to do up until his death: defining our future needs on our behalf and then arranging the landscape for smooth adaptation, while taking the mere mortals by complete surprise.

The news emerged this week that Amazon was about to step into the business of broadcasting TV channels with the full blessings of its vast web services. Judging by Mr Bezos’ nearly impeccable track record in transforming the digital world as we know it at present, those who doubt the feasibility of the idea, naturally, confine themselves into the sphere of irrelevance.

The speculation is rife that Amazon will introduce its own set-top box to stream video contents to its customers. The gadget, when connected to TV via WI-Fi, is going to make the digital content accessible via Amazon servers, according to latest reports.

Amazon has been amassing videos, songs, Apps and even games for some time while investing heavily on the resources and buying licences. The online-giant is positioning itself in the arena while posing a direct threat to the existing players such as Netflix, Roku and even Youtube.

The emergence of video streaming sites such as Netflix has rekindled the debate of the fate of traditional TV, cable networks and satellite TV networks. There are a growing number of people who think the demise of the TV, as we know it, is no longer hypothetical.

According to Eric Schmidt, the Chairman of Google, the TV is already ‘over’ and video stream sites should not be treated as rivals. Mr Schmidt is clearly referring to the success of YouTube at the expense of traditional TV, owned by Google, of course.

The video streaming sites distinctly polarized the user experience into the perceptions, derived from amateurs and professionals – and at the click of a mouse button. Traditional TV, which is notoriously asymmetrical in this context, may find it difficult to survive unless innovate and take the visionaries of Mr Bezos’ calibre a bit more seriously before it is too late.

TV networks can learn a few lessons from the awkward state of the printed newspaper industry in at present, owing to the online rivals and rapidly evolving user-demographics.

By placing the customers at the cushioned centre of business philosophy, the video streaming sites, including Amazon, are going to let users choose what they want to watch rather than stuffing them with bundles of channels, which most of the users neither watch nor need. The industry cannot make any blunders of this kind while taking the customers for a ride.

As TV networks are slow to come up with ideas to keep the threat at bay, the TV manufacturers are nurturing other ideas in order to survive: some famous brands, such as Samsung, for instance, are producing what they call ‘smart TV’ by making video streaming hardware, an integral part of the machines.

In these circumstances, the anticipated arrival of Mr Bezos into the field has the potential to make the rattling go seismic. He is not someone who usually enters an unchartered territory with a lot of fanfare; but when he puts the head out to say that he is in it, the landscape has already changed beyond recognition.

We all had our doubts when Amazon decided to expand its online store beyond a mere book store about three years ago. The position that Amazon is in now left us embarrassed for holding such doubts despite the fact that the man at the ‘wheel’ was Jeff Bezos.

Mr Bezos has been defying the critics, cynics, doubters and of course, rivals simultaneously since 1994, when he first launched Amzon.com as an online book store – the first of its kind. Since then, the entrepreneur has been transforming the digital realm as never before.

In this context, Amazon’s move into video streaming may be a serious threat, both to its rivals and traditional TV networks alike. Since the rivalry between the two camps is mathematically identifiable with an explicitly inverse relationship, millions will agree with the assertion made by Google’s boss, even if it is not music for some ears.

- Asian Tribune -

The Demise of TV: video streaming sites accelerate the endgame
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