Broadband's ripple

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The prognosticators often paint a picture leading us to believe that the broadband tidal wave hitting upon our shores will rip apart and wreak havoc on our protected coast, lined by the traditional advertising-supported TV broadcasting business.

The prognosticators speak of a broadband revolution in TV. After the wave hits, ripples will extend to both the viewer and the traditional TV advertiser. The viewer will click through here, and then order there. The advertiser will deliver pizza, appliances and take us on virtual test drives of new model cars as it sees an immediate response to advertising.

All of these predictions will come true. But as with most things we experience as time passes by, these meteoric changes in the TV industry will be evolutionary, not revolutionary.


The first significant stage in TV's broadband evolution is the multiple-channel platform. The advertiser will have more targeted outlets to reach its customers. The broadcaster will benefit from leveraging its infrastructure to create multiple new revenue streams.

But as with most things that evolve over time, this multiple-channel opportunity does not come without challenges. More networks mean more fragmented viewing audiences and a need for compelling programming. More advertising outlets mean a better value must be delivered to the advertiser.

The second stage of TV's broadband evolution will involve the separately evolving path of interactive TV programming. We already have interactive programming. We've had it for decades.

This interactivity helped spawn home shopping networks. Even Larry King allows us to call in and participate in the conversation.


The programming and advertising opportunities presented by broadband really take off when these two paths collide. The programming itself will benefit from broadband as broadcasters can now allow the game show to be played by contestants in real time at home.

Meanwhile, the interactive 1-800 direct response ads evolve into an even more impulsive click-and-buy process. As the consumer gets increasingly more comfortable with conducting commerce at home, exponentially more transactions will take place.

The promise of the broadband evolution is heightened when broadband delivers to the untethered consumer out of home. At this point, unlike at our current stage of the broadband evolution, the consumer gets any form of information and data-intensive video streams anytime, anywhere, via digital notepad, assistant or even a wristwatch. Not now, but in due time. In time the greatest prognosticator may end up being Dick Tracy himself.

Colorful TV pioneer Lowell "Bud" Paxson, chairman of Paxson Communications Corp., brought TV shopping to the masses with his Home Shopping Network and carved out a niche network with his Pax TV.

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