Around the close of last year, the popular video sharing site that at least every one reading this post must have either used or heard about opened shop in Kampala with a custom domain youtube.co.ug for its visitors. You can read the story from my favorite local Tech news website – pctechmagazine.
Prior to this development, content producers/Creators like music artists and TV stations have been uploading their videos on YouTube. So practically speaking, there’s nothing new. However, I’ll take this opportunity to bring something significant to light for broadcasters and trend watchers.
YouTube should not be confused with internet TV which is no different from conventional TV, except that instead of using Radio Frequency(RF) waves as the medium of transmission of transient images, IP or Internet Packets are used through an IP network like the internet. In the latter, end user streams the broadcasted content using his computer instead of their TV set. Therefore TV broadcasters whether using RF or IP media continually broadcasts content with the hope or assumption that the end user on the receiving end is simultaneously viewing it. This obviously sometimes is not true. As I write this post, my TV set is off.
However, it is not that YouTube is now here. It is how TV stations can use it to change their game. YouTube doesn’t assume you’re continually watching you’re PC. Instead the viewer initiates the streaming of the content and has the choice of what they wish to view. This is different from the “force it down your throat” kind of broadcasting which traditional broadcasters have been using since the invention of TV. YouTube presents a different paradigm in broadcasting that suits the 21st century TV viewer. Here’s what I mean. I love watching NTV tonight news that airs at 9:00 pm every day. Now lets imagine one busy day I leave work late at 8:00 pm and hit the usual crazy Entebbe traffic jam that makes me reach home at 10:00 pm. Obviously i would have already missed the news since I can’t rewind my TV set ( sounds weird). With YouTube, NTV can upload the recorded news cast on their YouTube channel. I can then fire up my internet connected laptop, visit the NTV YouTube channel and watch the 9:00 pm news I missed.
The 21 century TV viewer wants customization of whatever product they consume. The trend of “Watch what I like, how I like – when I like” is fast catching on however, traditional TV architecture doesn’t and can’t allow this to happen as I have discussed above. This is the reason why new broadcasting companies who provide this sort of customization like Netflix are already threatening the survival traditional broadcasters in the US.
Now it’s worth mentioning that Ugandan TV will be switching from analogue to digital TV. It’s something worth looking forward to since now our TV sets will be shining with high quality pictures and perhaps programmable menus, but the TV game hasn’t changed. Digital TV is only evolutionary innovation(improving the game), not revolutionary innovation (totally changing the game). This also goes for FM radio stations. While TV stations can use YouTube to change their game, radio stations can use iTunes or any other podcasting service to do the same.
By doing so, broadcasters will be able to stand up to the heat of the ever evolving consumer behavioral patterns and technology by using a blend of traditional and internet broadcasting platforms. Failure to do so will tantamount to annihilation of old business models as new ones come in.