Thursday, February 24, 2005

Broadcasting & P2P: Disruption of Market Incumbents

Somewhat in line with the broadcast flag postings, a very interesting looking report on broadcasting and p2p: Broadcast TV and Broadband Video: Collission and Disruption by Stephen Griffiths. Released yesterday, under a creative commons license, it points out one of the important, but sometimes overlooked issue: the disruptive power of p2p to the incumbent broadcasting (business) model. The broadcast flag is a key example of how an incumbent market tries to projects its will on a rising technology, instead of adjusting to it.

Here's the (executive) introduction of the report:
This report examines the collision between broadcast television and broadband video, what new innovations are at play for scheduling or distributing video, and analyses if any are disruptive to incumbents, and what that would mean for the existing broadcast television value net.

As a mature global industry, broadcast TV has experienced many cycles of sustaining innovations, where various technical and functional performance dimensions have improved over the decades, for example, the shift from: black and white to colour, a single public broadcaster to multiple commercial entities, analogue to digital, etc. All of which, have sustained traditional incumbents while incrementally improving customer satisfaction. However, broadcast TV is unlikely to have faced such a prominent and potentially disruptive innovation to market incumbents as peer-to-peer (P2P), which represents a diametrically opposing distribution method. If broadcast denotes one-to-many distribution, P2P denotes any-to-any, where anyone with a broadband connection can up/download files (including video assets), irrespective of whether you’re a global firm or individual consumer.

P2P may not be the first method to pull/make available video assets as data, as that is also achievable by HTTP downloads, streaming and video on demand (VoD); but it does mark a shift in the architecture and availability of broadcast video assets, and reduces distribution entry barriers. With P2P networks, video ‘creators/producers’ (that create and fund content) and ‘packagers’ (that commission and aggregate it) can reach end users directly (with the former disintermediating the entire value web, the later disintermediating ‘distributors’). But, instead of P2P being framed as an alternative to broadcast TV, it’s really an augmentation, an additional route to market, albeit one with the potential to disrupt an already fragmenting TV viewing constituency, and enable both firms and amateurs to become asset creators/producers/distributors. And as the Internet is a – conceptual – world of ends, any broadband user can leverage a P2P client/network to distribute video assets.

More information at this site.


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