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  • A Video Business Model Ready to Move Beyond Beta

     

    VIDEO mania is in full swing.

    NBC’s new syndication business, dubbed NBBC, for National Broadband Company, promises to match up content creators with Web sites that might be interested in showing the video. All three parties will get to take a cut of the embedded advertising revenue. There is much to quibble with about the way NBBC came out of the gate; its executives dissed most blogs as unworthy of their content and sneered at the homemade content that is proliferating on YouTube.

    On the other hand, any video service using NBBC is nonexclusive, so there is really no reason not to use it (which explains why little corners of NBC competitors like

    The clever thing about NBBC, though, is that it’s an entirely new business — to the extent it will distribute other companies’ programs — that is designed to bring in new money. Even if free advertiser-supported video on the Web takes off, it’s far from clear whether those ad dollars will be greater than the dollars NBC may lose from viewers who will no longer watch its show on regular TV, or download or DVD and so on.

    Which brings us to Apple’s potential convergence-buster, dubbed iTV (the name is — you guessed it — beta). Betting against Steven P. Jobs has not been a sound proposition in recent years, but there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about whether iTV, which doesn’t actually exist yet, will have the technological wherewithal or enough compelling content to matter. But it does draw people closer to a world where inexpensive liquid crystal displays will moot the long-running debate about convergence because people will just plug in their cable or Internet or Wi-Fi and do what they please.

    “The real win here is in high-value, high-quality, high-definition content on your TV set,” said Josh Bernoff, a vice president at Forrester Research. “To do that is going to require more than what Amazon and frankly more than what Apple is doing. We’re still waiting for that device.”

    Or maybe it’s here and we just can’t afford it.

    That means every regular, pay and high-definition channel, every sports package, pay-per-view movies (at no cost), and a whole bunch of tuners and digital video recorders to do with as you please. There is also 24-hour a day “concierge” service for technical help and anything else.

    Best of all, none of it is in beta.


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