Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Pocket Guide to Internet TV

I'm currently writing a comprehensive book on how to establish, run and commercialise TV over internet channels, but in the meantime I'm often asked about the basics of how to set up an Internet TV channel, so I prepared this (if any of these specific subjects interest you, search this blog using it as a keyword):


Introduction

This document covers the essential ingredients required to establish and run a successful Internet TV service.

Content

Clearly, an internet TV service requires compelling content and a reason for viewers to visit and stay on your channel.

As a guide, I would recommend having a minimum of five hours of content to launch a service, but the real key is to regularly add new content – daily – if possible. This can be costly, and one way around this is to make extensive use of user generated content.

It is usually worth preparing some station idents and possibly trailers to ‘package’ the channel.

Encoding

Once you have the content you will need to prepare it into the right format for distributing over the web. The two most popular formats are Windows Media and Flash Video. You will also need to decide on the data rate or rates for the video. Most broadband users today can receive a reliable 500Kbps stream and 1Mbps is also worth considering.

Platform

To ease the management of the service, using or developing a technical platform makes sense. Also, most of these platforms operate on existing large scale networks called CDNs (content delivery networks).

There are two primary types of platform to consider:

· Published – where the video is made available to the public from a central source
· User generated – where users of the service can contribute and add their own video

Different platforms have varying functionality, but one of the most important considerations is to ensure that the functionality supports your business model.

Commercialisation

There are a number of ways to monetise your service. These range from sponsorship to advertising, from ecommerce to charging the viewer to use the service. There are also services that use gambling, competitions and SMS payment, or that simply add the service as an additional benefit to members or subscribers.

Advertising is the most popular means of commercialising Internet TV services. Expect to be paid £20 – 30 per thousand views of a 30 second advert – more if the audience is specialised; you can also charge around £ 2 – 4 per thousand impressions of a banner ad on your video player and can also generate revenues via specialised advertising media such as Google Adwords.

Distribution

In order to successfully commercialise a service, attracting and retaining an audience is essential. There are a wide range of techniques that can be deployed to achieve this, including traditional marketing methods such as press releases, mailshots; online optimisation for search engines; syndication of the service through blogs and ‘feeds’ and direct distribution via email, etc..

Costs

Budget for the following :

· Technical Platform
· Content production or acquisition
· Content preparation and encoding
· Marketing and distribution
· Management of the service

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