Over the past few weeks there have been a number of notable examples showing just how quickly content is migrating to new media outlets that defy the current regulatory environment. As Adam Thierer and I mentioned in our cable ownership filing last month, such changes require us to rethink policy for the media marketplace. Media is shifting to a digital architecture where media is a continuous, ubiquitous experience and content is decoupled from any one particular distribution channel or device. Recent examples are:
* CBS and NBC announced deals to distribute shows on-demand over cable for $0.99 an episode, with NBC's group president saying "Putting our content on as many platforms as possible is the key to our future."
* Yahoo & TiVo are collaborating to allow individuals to view Yahoo TV content via TiVo. Navigate a menu on your TiVo box and you will be able to view Internet content just as you would cable or broadcast TV. Additionally, this partnership will allow users to TiVo programming remotely via the Yahoo website.
* AOL has announced a plan to make popular archived content available for viewing freely over the web - a service called In2TV. The content will be ad supported and offer around 100 different shows in the first year.
* Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network are offering $2.99 downloads of shows like SpongeBob SquarePants for use on a mobile video "toy" by Hasbro.
* Comedy Central has recently launched a "broadband channel" called Motherload. Motherload is very similar in look and functionality to MTV's Overdrive and offers video programming online that may be searched and queued in customized playlists.
It is only a short matter of time before more TiVo-type deals are inked and Internet content becomes indistinguishable from TV via other distribution channels. Content is quickly finding many new, digital channels to flow across, creating an increasingly continuous media environment. Future regulatory analysis must consider this radical shift in the media landscape. Children growing up with SpongeBob episodes playing on their toys can be expected to consume and interact with media very differently from the way we have over the past 25 years.