Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Over the last couple of days, I've been bouncing between what I'm supposed to be doing and catching the ISP presentations on New Media to the CRTC unfold over at CPAC. Their goals and arguments are diametrically opposed to most of the Arts groups who had their turn before the Commission a couple of weeks ago. And you start wondering if what we've really got here is some kind of Artist Left Brain / Commerce Right Brain disconnect that even the most brilliant neurosurgeon in the world wouldn't be able to re-circuit.

Meanwhile, I get emails from tech sites detailing the wonders of Apple TV, Roku, Vudu, Hulu and Clearleap -- all of which tell me that none of those people making presentations in Gatineau has even the slightest clue at how quickly this Tsunami of digital change is about to swamp us.

If the ISPs make good on their threat to take any Commission decision to regulate them to court, the world of television we now know will seem as arcane as a B&W kinescope of "The Howdy Doody Show" by the time a verdict is rendered.

And being able to watch movies and broadcast TV via the Internet (and in better quality than either CTV or Global seem capable of delivering it) is just the start.

Today, the two guys next to me at lunch were complaining about missing last night's Raptors Game on the tube. Seems it was only available on TSN-2 which isn't carried by Rogers Cable, because Rogers is still "negotiating" its carriage -- which translates as "doing all they can to protect their own sports channel: Sportsnet from the competition".

One of these guys was really upset. He owned the full sports package Rogers offered him, including Raptors TV. "How many channels do I have to buy to follow ONE team, for Fuck sake!" I leaned over and gave him his answer, "None".

Remember how I said I was through watching "Hockey Night in Canada" a while back and had this HDMI link to my HD TV? Look on the back of yours, they've all got one or two. I haven't had the chance to try out a hockey game yet. But the other night, I linked to perhaps the most elaborately formated sports portal on the web and sampled a baseball game, linking my laptop via an HDMI cable to the TV.

It all worked beautifully. And in addition to a crisp picture and great sound, I could access all kinds of things I can't get from a TV broadcast. Stats when I want to look at them, player profiles of somebody I was noticing versus what some TV talking head had previously prepared. I could even zap to multiple screens to catch other spring training action.

I could also send email between innings or scan my Twitter updates without getting off the couch.

If I subscribe for the coming season, the cost is on a par with my sports options on cable, while giving me the opportunity to see every single game played during the season and not one moment of having to put up with pseudo sports like Monster truck rallies and Poker or the endless panels of babbling ex-jocks that seem to be what passes as Sports programming these days.

Imagine what this means for the Sports cash cow that has been so endlessly milked by our broadcasters. The basketball fan I met today doesn't have to buy several channels to watch his favorite team. He can get everything he wants from the net.

Given that I can't see the CRTC being able to mandate that he can't access the games of the League of his choice unless a Canadian team or a set percentage of Canadian players are involved, suddenly one of the profitable Specialty genres begins to look as financially precarious as our current Free to Air networks.

Somebody should let the CRTC know that their time is over and all those years and reams of regulation designed to protect and defend our "culture" were absolutely the wrong strategy. We should have been funding an aggressive policy of getting ourselves and our culture out into the world, creating content instead of shoring up outmoded infrastructure and making sure that those who served the agendas of their political masters received favor.

And if the thought of not needing either TSN or Sportsnet to watch a game on TV, not needing History of Showcase to see a re-run of "CSI" or the scheduled fare of ANY Movie network, when tens of thousands of titles are waiting to stream directly to you at the exact instant the popcorn's ready and you're tucked in your Snuggie -- if none of that tells you we're stepping into a world with unimaginable options -- then take a look at this...

$350 worth of store bought hardware and three months of research. Imagine where these guys will be in a year...

Gawd, and I'm still trying to figure out Facebook.


deborah Nathan said...

forget Facebook. I am in awe of anyone who can link up their computer, tv and still surf, etc. I can't get past the first sentence of instruction. And I think that's what Darwin meant about survival of the fittest.

Ryan said...

Has Apple built made a simple version of this yet? Is there a box I can just plug my TV into and then buy videos from iTunes with my remote?

jimhenshaw said...


Click on the Apple TV link in the post. I believe they have what you're looking for.

Brandon Laraby said...

There are a ton of options out there right now - Netflix has a download service that will soon be in HD. Pay a certain monthly fee, download what shows/movies you wanna see - that simple.

The funny thing is that DVDs are soon going to be a thing of the past. Western Digital has a home media center you can buy for about a hundred bucks, you plug it into your HDMI port, load a bunch of video files onto a flash drive and it'll play them on your TV, that simple.

No 2 or 4 or 8x DVDs, no waiting for things to burn, copy it to the flash drive, plug it in and watch it on your HD TV.

If you REALLY want a head trip, do a bit of research into Cloud Computing. THAT's the future.

Very, very exciting stuff.