The Tennis Channel and ESPN have teamed up to offer live coverage of the US Open online. Not only is this a wonderful thing for consumers, but it also demonstrates just how easily content creators (including traditional television programming networks) can completely bypass cable companies, who once supposedly used their "bottleneck" power to act as "gatekeepers" over the content Americans could receive. If this was ever true, it certainly isn't true in the era of Internet video!
The venture will, of course, be ad-supported. But just how much content such a model can support will depend heavily on whether Internet video programming distributors like this venture (or Hulu.com) will be able to personalize the ads shown on their videos based on the likely interests of users. Ad industry observer David Hallerman has predicted that spending on behavioral advertising:
is projected to reach $1.1 billion in 2009 and $4.4 billion in 2012 [a quarter of U.S. display advertising].The prime mover behind this rapid increase will be the mainstream adoption of online video advertising, which will increasingly require targeting to make it cost-effective.
The problem isn't just the expense involved in streaming online video, it's that contextually targeting advertising (based on keywords) is easy when the content is text but far more difficult when the content is video.
So if you're hoping to cut the cord to cable and save the expense of a monthly cable subscription, you'd better hope the privacy zealots don't wipe out advertising model necessary to make Internet video a true substitute for traditional subscription video sources!