Last night half the Western world was watching the Oscars, a magnificent event that holds people in front of the screen for around six hours (including the Red Carpet). A must-see, if you wanted to be able to join the conversation at work today.
But if you don’t have a TV, watching the Oscars can be quite hard. The ABC channel did stream the gala live, but you could only watch it from an IP address within the US. Legally, there was no open streaming option for other countries -not even one. I understand that this event, like others such as the Super Bowl, generates great advertisement revenues for the broadcasting channels all over the world (that’s why the ABC streaming was only available from the US: they can’t sell the rights to broadcast the Oscars to other channels and at the same time compete with them via Internet; and they can’t sell the rights to other Internet sites because it would compete with all the other TV channels around the world), but I think the industry’s approach to the Internet is completely wrong.
Last night there where dozens of streaming channels easily available from Justin.tv, Ustream and random sketchy websites from which literally hundreds of thousands of people were watching the Oscars. The reaction from the organizers? At some point they started shutting down those channels, and suddenly all the streaming options in English and good image quality were offline. Did that stop people from streaming the Oscars? Of course not, they just spent five minutes searching for a new channel on a different website.
Last night it was obvious again that the worldwide television market is asking for options on the Internet. Setting up a streaming channel is fairly cheap and easy to monetize, that’s why there are so many illegal channels… because they actually make money! But more importantly, streaming is already happening: TV channels around the world didn’t have more viewers because there wasn’t a legal streaming option, since people willing to watch the Oscars via Internet still did.
If viewers are already using this media, why don’t they take advantage of it? There wouldn’t exist so many illegal streaming websites if the organization offered a free, reliable and quality channel in their own website. Viewers could get a better source, illegal sites would be out of business, advertisers could impact on more people and the industry would make all the money they claim to be loosing now. A win-win-win-win situation that would only grow with the arrival of smart TVs already connected to the Internet.