To take TV OTT, you must have a closed system. Anything less just won’t fly.

January 5, 2011

I was never on the debate team in high school. But as the hockey team’s captain I engaged in my fair share of fights that taught me a thing or two about winning arguments. So, let’s talk about the right way to distribute over-the-top (OTT) broadcast TV.

First of all, live TV is going to the Internet. It is not a matter of if, but when and how. Nobody really disputes this.  The question is, how do you deliver something from a closed world (over-the-air, broadcast TV is a closed system, as is cable and satellite) to the open world of the Internet?  The anarchists are saying, “free the TV”, “let me get anything I want from anywhere.” They are half-right and half-cocked. We should be able to watch live TV anywhere we want, on the train, at the game, at a boring wedding, wherever.  However, until television programming (which is really, really, really expensive) can be underwritten by something other than ad dollars and retransmission fees, you cannot provide it everywhere for free. 

So, we have to replicate the existing closed system for the Internet; it’s a dollars and cents issue.  But, what kind of closed system? There are at least two kinds, absolute and loosey-goosey.  ivi TV uses the latter. I know this for a fact, because one of my staff is signed up to watch local, New York based broadcast television from his little house in the prairie in Palo, Iowa. Who loses from this arrangement? Everybody:  local advertisers who don’t access him anymore, New York advertisers who will never see dime one of his money and him because he doesn’t know when it’s going to snow 8 inches.

Let’s consider another loosey-goosey model based on geo-location for address verification. In this case chaos would reign supreme as budding young entrepreneurs start sites like SpoofMyIP4BetterTV.com. IP addresses are a poor locational indicator; they’re bought and sold all of time. An IP address can change anytime. It’s like renting a PO Box.  Then, you have the people who believe that predictive technology is still an okay method for determining things. These folks will sign you up for OTT TV and pretend not to notice when you share your password and user ID with buddies in Florida and Pennsylvania. One account, split three ways. Woo-hoo, free TV, just not the right kind of free TV.

Folks, there is only one way to protect broadcast television over the Internet, with a closed transmission path between the broadcaster and the viewer, each individual viewer.  This is a billion device universe where 330 million people from 120 million households are starting to watch content on Smart Phones, laptops and anything with an Internet connection. TV has a lot to gain and a lot to lose in this world. Our OTT technology is absolute, protecting broadcast ad dollars and viewership 100% of the time.  It also opens the door to individualized, one-on-one entertainment.  

Like I said, there is a lot to gain from doing it right. Don’t make me take off the gloves to prove I’m right.