What If There Were 2,000 Television Networks?
Since its inception, access to television programming has been restricted. Until the introduction of cable and satellite television, viewing options were generally limited to three broadcast networks, Public Television and frequently one local independent station. Because the Federal government claimed ownership of the airwaves, freedom of expression was severely restricted through several controlling mechanisms.
With the introduction of cable television in the 1980's, the government lost the power to control programming and shows began to enter our homes that would have been censored during the broadcast era. Many people considered much of the cable programming morally, politically or cultural offensive. When this reached a critical level in the 1990's, public dialogue began to focus on self-censoring technologies such as the V-chip.
Although cable television dramatically increased our viewing options, it was still relatively restricted. First, in order to acquire one of the multiplexed channels, a network had to present a complete spectrum of programming. This required large amounts of capital and restricted access to the marketplace. Second, because of the limited number of available multiplexed channels, ratings were important and most of the cable networks chased the same mainstream viewing preferences.
High speed Internet access will change everything about television. Currently, there are many competing technologies, however, the edge most likely will go to systems such as AT&T Broadband that use an existing multiplexed cable channel. You literally will be watching cable television, but the source of the signal will be directed through the Internet. AT&T is positioning itself to be a full-spectrum Internet supplier, including Internet based television and movies.
There are some obvious implications of this change in prevailing technology. One is the 'episode archive'. After its airing, a television show will be uploaded onto the Network web site for people to view whenever they want. Advertising rate cards will begin to quote two rates; one for the initial airing and a 'per view' rate from the archive. There is no particular reason why the advertisements in the initial broadcast must be the same as the ones in the Archive version. In fact, there is no reason why the archive version must contain advertising at all. For a nominal fee, the viewer can choose to download a commercial free version.
Western civilization has become change receptive. There are many, many examples of a new technology moving from 'surprising' to 'old hat' in just a couple of years. Internet based television will profoundly change people's viewing habits. The 'broadcast schedule' which has been an imbedded assumption of television from the beginning will disappear. People will watch a particular television show when it suits their mood, not when it is being shown. Many people will choose to purchase commercial free versions which will completely change the way television is financed and how people become aware of their purchasing options.
The evolution to Internet based television will also dramatically modify the role of the Network. Time slot competition will become meaningless. Prime Time will also lose its significance. Networks can offer more or less programming than the time slots that have traditionally been the determinant. Ratings and share, which has driven so much of the Industry, will no longer be a decision making criteria. If a show is profitable, it will be made available. The cost of Internet supplied television will be low, consequently the number of profitable shows will explode.
With the advent of Internet television, the distinction between television, infommercial and movies will begin to blur. Also, television and other modes of Internet communication will become coordinated into a 'communication package.' This has already begun with many of the traditional television shows having web sites with actor interviews, chatrooms, etc.
Mainstream television programming will become a competition between the traditional Networks and the broad band cable distributors. The Networks have the expertise advantage and the cable distributors have the technological edge. There is an important market opportunity for the Third Millennium Project in this overall evolution of television, however. That is in television programming with too specialized an appeal to have been successful in the cable market. In the era of Internet based television, these shows can be profitable.
The Third Millennium Project is creating Polymathica TV, an Internet based programming vehicle. In September 2001, we began production of 'The Third Millennium', a one hour television show exploring the same issues discussed in this newsletter and our discussion group. Soon, we will have a 10 - 15 minute excerpt of the show available for downloading from this and other affiliated sites. In 2002, we will be making available the full hour shows on the Internet. Global distribution of targeted television programming on a shoe-string will profoundly change the industry and, over time, the world.
In 2002, we are planning on introducing a television show for each of our discussion groups. Additionally, we will be encouraging members of The Third Millennium Project to produce television shows that will be included in the Polymathica TV programming guide. For most people, these shows will cost literally nothing to start and will have surprising profit potential over the next five years.
Most cable television distributors are required by franchise agreements in their service areas to provide free studio facilities for public access programming. This is how 'The Third Millennium' show is being started. We produce the programming in these facilities, air the show locally through cable and then create a video file to upload onto our web site. There is little or no cost.
Polymathica TV will concentrate on academic and intellectual programming with a special emphasis on polymathic lifestyles. It is far from the largest market segment. Our market research suggests that it comprises between 1% - 2% of the population. However, current estimates are that one billion people will be on the Internet within five years. Our potential viewing audience will be 10 - 20 million people!!!
We anticipate that over the next several years, successful shows on Polymathica TV will attract 50,000 to 100,000 weekly viewers globally. A good rule of thumb is that these shows will receive .$30 - $.50 per viewer, either in download fees or advertising. It definitely isn't the major revenue of mainstream television, but still, it is $750,000 - $3,000,000 per year. A talk show/news magazine format can create six figure annual income for the 5 or 6 people required to produce a marketable product.
In addition to production groups, Polymathica TV presents several other opportunities for Third Millennium Project members. As shows become profitable, they will graduate to better studios and equipment. At present most cities do not have such facilities readily available. So there is a business opportunity creating them. This will also give the production groups 'remote feed' capability through most of the developed world.
Polymathica TV is just one of many potential Internet based television networks. The American Polymathic Institute and Polymathica will limit their activities to this one network, but members of the Third Millennium Project are encouraged to start other ones. There are synergistic benefits to individual shows combining their efforts through Polymathica TV and there are synergistic benefits for several Internet TV networks combining their efforts.
Internet TV and its ability to propagate and reinforce memes (units of culture) globally to a highly selective population will be viewed by future historians as one of the major factors that led to the creation of the Information Age Civilization. As we go through this transitional period, we are experiencing cultural fragmentation within geographically defined populations. Internet TV will be seen as one of the primary agents that reestablished cultural homogeneity non-geographically. As people struggle to find their cultural comfort zone, Internet based television will provide them with a focus. There will be a web site they can go to that will provide them with culturally comfortable programming.
If you are interested in becoming involved in NetTV, you should join the Third Millennium Project immediately. There is a process that you should begin that leads to a successful TV show. First, you will form a discussion group. We have built several very successful discussion groups and we will show you how to do it. As you accumulate members, you will produce a related web site. This gives you the opportunity to talk to your potential viewers. Simultaneously, you can begin producing your show through your local cable access. This will give you an opportunity to improve your product before you market it globally.
There is another important benefit of immediate Third Millennium Project membership. People do not watch just one television show. They don't necessarily belong to just one discussion group either. You can gain members for your discussion group by sharing membership lists with other project members. This will be particularly valuable if your subject matter is consistent with the Polymathica TV demographic profile. The larger your discussion group when you begin global transmission of your TV show, the larger your initial income.
The emergence of NetTV will fundamentally change the world. By joining the Third Millennium Project, building your discussion group and web site and producing a cable access show, you will be positioning yourself to capitalize upon this change.
NetTV will grow in an Information Age way utilizing Information Age enterprise tools. Although, the various Networks will not be traditional hierarchical corporate structures, they will provide growth capital for individual shows through targeted treasury functions. The TV Networks have been buying the Cable Networks. It could very well be the case that they will also begin to buy the Internet Networks when they become a major factor. The probable course for an investor is a Private Placement investment in an Internet Network, IPO and then a buy-out by a Network or Cable Distributor.
This is a major opportunity that we believe will grow into a multi-billion dollar industry over the next ten years. As it does, it will reshape much of the entertainment industry.
American Polymathic Institute
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© 2001 American Polymathic Institute. All rights reserved.