The Auto Channel Names 2011 as "YEAR ONE" of the Television-Internet Convergence Age
The Internet's video pioneer has waited since 1987 for this birth day
AUTO CENTRAL - December 20, 2011: As this year comes to an end, The Auto Channel is citing 2011 as the breakthrough year for what will undoubtedly be heralded as the Television-Internet Convergence Age.
While the convergence of traditional television broadcasting and Internet broadcasting (also known as “webcasting”) has been a long time coming - and there is still plenty of work to be done to get all the kinks worked out - the quality and availability of video and TV-style programming on the Internet, as well as the enhanced experience of surfing the Internet on conventional televisions made 2011 the landmark year.
“Now, for really the first time ever, the ordinary person has the ability to create and implement an independent television network that can reach hundreds of millions of viewers,” said Bob Gordon, President and Co-Founder of The Auto Channel and TheAutoChannel.com.
Bob then added, “The promise of ‘broadcasting equality’ was supposed to be at-hand as cable television was adopted across the U.S. and around the world. But the Federal Communications Commission, its equivalents in other countries, and the gate-keeper policies of the major cable system operators prevented the promise from being fulfilled. So until that fateful day, which we hope never comes, when the government invents some excuse to give the cable systems control of all Internet access, we can all enjoy the five million channel universe.”
The Auto Channel feels that the single most consequential factor in making 2011 “YEAR ONE” of the Television-Internet Convergence Age was Google TV. Although Google TV was introduced in 2010, the introduction and product roll-out was timed to be a good Christmas gift for the 2010 holiday selling season. As such, its initial use by consumers would be in 2011. Google TV was not the first “set top box” to allow viewing of Internet videos on television sets, but it was the first to combine high-quality video viewing, webpage surfing, and the use of apps, along with also being factory installed in major brand television sets. Some business and consumer critics have complained that the current Google TV is clunky. TACH agrees that this is true, but feels that it’s simply the first step in what will become a smooth, effortless experience.
“The first television sets and early remote-controls were clunky and quirky to the nth degree, “ says Marc Rauch, The Auto Channel’s Executive Vice President and Co-Founder. “This was also true of radio and the first two or three rounds of personal computers. But what ultimately won the day,” adds Marc, “was the fantastic information, entertainment and versatility that these devices offered. For example, it didn’t really matter that consumers were used to watching large clear images being projected onto theater screens, the tiny glitchy screens of early television were irrelevant once families found out they had an Uncle Miltie and that they loved Lucy.”
As THE pioneers* in Internet streaming video, The Auto Channel’s co-founders first saw the coming of the TV-Internet convergence age in 1986 while building a broadcast television station in Sacramento, California. In 1987, when the initial business plan for The Auto Channel network was written, TACH planned on using a converged system between television and computers to deliver programming while providing interactivity between viewers and the network and its commercial sponsors.
Both Bob Gordon and Marc Rauch recall the many, many attempts to jump start the Television-Internet Convergence Age beginning shortly after The Auto Channel first began popularizing the use of streaming video on the Internet. “In theory, those devices and system attempts were no different than what Google TV has accomplished,” said Bob Gordon. “But what they lacked was the Internet’s maturity into ubiquitous high-speed connectivity and Google’s leadership in the Internet world,” he added.
“Today, we do almost everything that we originally intended when we wrote the business plan in 1987, long before we were ripped off by the three cable companies that created Speedvision,” said Marc Rauch. “In addition to our one million-plus pages of text content, we offer thousands of automotive video and television programs to viewers around the world on a linear and on-demand basis. Our efforts in 1996 and ’97 were primitive, to say the least, but we drove our spike into the ground and remain a leading source of video content regardless of the subject nature.”
Marc adds, “And now that our videos - many that are in HD - can be watched on living room, bedroom, office and retail show room television screens, The Auto Channel is the interactive television network we dreamed of.”
The Auto Channel’s coming of age as a TV-Internet programming network is, of course, mirrored by the online use and success of others such as Netflix and Hulu, and from the continuous frenzied attempt by traditional broadcasters and print publishers to understand their potential role in the converged marketplace.
“Technology will only get better,” said Bob Gordon. “This is YEAR ONE; it will be incredible to see what’s happening in YEAR TEN. Just as today’s television viewers have forgotten, or are unaware of the distinctions between UHF and VHF or broadcast and cable cast television programs, future viewers will be oblivious to the distinction between television and Internet video programs.”
* TheAutoChannel.com was the first Internet website to produce and deploy its own video content. The videos were originally posted in February 1996 using VDOLive streaming technology. In May 1996, TACH added VivoActive client-side streaming technology, which was the first use of VivoActive by any website. In January 1997, TACH adopted VXtreme as their official streaming technology, by-passing Real Video. Subsequent to The Auto Channel’s 150 hours of live video coverage of the 1997 Indianapolis 500 events, VXtreme was purchased by Microsoft. The VXtreme codec allowed Microsoft’s Web Theater (eventually renamed as Windows Media) to become the number one streaming solution. The VXtreme codec remains at the heart of Windows Media technology.