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Internet TV channels promise to give viewers and advertisers a fresh look

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on June 10, 2007

Published: Sunday, June 10, 2007 | 4:45 PM ET

Canadian Press: BILL GRAVELAND

BANFF, Alta. (CP) – The Internet’s infinite universe is continuing to expand and its 700 million users are bound to provide fertile ground for the full-scale arrival of Internet TV, an international conference heard Sunday.

One item that’s getting attention nextMEDIA, a conference on the future of digital content, is Joost, the world’s first broadcast-quality Internet television. Joost has over 150 channels, including cartoons, sports, comedy, documentaries and science fiction.

Stacey Seltzer, the company’s senior vice-president, says the idea is to provide relief for viewers who are sick of regular TV.

“It’s our feeling that viewers don’t mind advertising. What they mind is the clutter and being bombarded by lots and lots of advertising.”

Online TV will be free to consumers, who will also be viewing interactive ads. Internet tracking will then allow advertisers to know if they’re engaging the viewer.

“All of that is measurable, and for advertisers that’s exactly what they want.”
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But the system isn’t quite ready for prime time. It’s in what’s known as the ‘beta stage,’ which limits it’s use until all the bugs are worked out.

But Seltzer says there are already 600,000 users with an additional 10,000-20,000 downloads of the software every day.

“Consumers want a rich media experience on the web. It’s part of our daily lives,” he says.

“There was a kind of inevitability that video would begin to transform the web just as music and web pages did from the static days of e-mail.”

Seltzer says TV broadcasters around the world are embracing the Internet as a medium in which they can reach new audiences.

Alliance Atlantis already syndicates a number of science-fiction shows on Joost. Claude Galipeau, senior vice-president of digital media, says Alliance is negotiating for more titles.

“The benefit is reaching new viewers, having viewers interact themselves with the content and also making money off of it,” says Galipeau.

“For example, we can open up a channel – the Alliance Atlantis sci-fi channel – and provide sci-fi content to the fans.”

Galipeau is impressed with the system he’s been using, but concedes there are a couple of concerns about “people’s willingness to watch content on a computer screen,” and how many would link their computers to a high-quality TV for better viewing.

Other impediments include the speed of a user’s Internet connection, because video streaming requires a fast link.

© The Canadian Press, 2007

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