Commoditizing live content

Put together on November 5, 2009 1:46 pm by Dimitris
What do you think?

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Image by Monica’s Dad via Flickr

As I said in my previous post, Greek TV channels most sought-after content is live events (sports, music etc) which cannot be found elsewhere (neither in competitors nor online). Securing licenses for such content turns out as a major asset for such providers – and I can imagine that this holds not just for Greece but any and all countries.

So what would it take for this last castle, which offers possibilities of monopoly to a single (or a few) providers, to fall? What would allow even live events to escape from the stranglehold of large, existing content providers? The making of a commodity out of watching live events could be (one of) the next big things if someone manages to get it right.

Now, most mobile phones can capture video these days and that’s a powerful medium that has remained rather untapped when it comes to live events. So here’s an idea: let’s assume we want to cover a live event, like a football game. All it would take would be to allow everyone who was planning to attend the event to sign up to also stream a portion of it. The streams from all users present at the event would arrive at a website dedicated to the event. There they would need to be synchronised (and perhaps even auto-selected based on quality) and then restreamed to visitors of the website in real time or semi-real time.

Now add to that that most such phones have or soon will have GPS information appended to them and you could even identify where in the event’s location the incoming streams originate from. Given enough people offering their streams, visitors on the website would be able to select a point of view and follow the event from it.

Perhaps a nice concept but where’s the catch? Actually there are two.

For one thing, we’re used to watching content from a few given angles and changes between them are managed by a single human being – the event’s director. Having the viewing experience be governed by whomever happens to be holding his mobile up at a given time and place, will definitely result in a dizzying reproduction of the event. Camera and sound quality will change abruptly along with location, stops will be inevitable, essentially no commentary will be possible, etc. At the very least it will take some getting used to, at worst it will be unwatchable. There is an answer to that however and it is of course adequate – and committed – streamers.

For another, a streamer will need a considerable incentive to do it. Holding a mobile up and stable for any amount of time will make the event less enjoyable for him and even more importantly streaming video will pump his bill by quite a bit if not on an ‘unlimited data’ plan. Obviously the platform which will organise and offer the content of the streamers online will have to share some of its revenue with the streamers – or at least those that offer the best quality streams and whose streams are the most viewed.

Overall, the experience will be pretty much nothing like what we’re used to but I think it’s terribly disruptive if you think about it. Using such a platform, a group of people can organise and relay an event pretty much on their own.

tags: idea

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