Saturday, December 23, 2006

Podcasts and Broadband - Dec. 23, 2006



A new era for television

A year ago, podcasts and broadband streaming were relatively unknown TV entities. A year from now, it may be TV channels that are part of the unknown.

By Eric Kohanik

I’m thinking of getting rid of my TV.

No, it’s not some big job protest or anything like that. It’s just that I’m watching a lot more TV on…well, not on a traditional TV set.

I’ve been watching a fair bit of TV on my video iPod lately – which seems kind of strange because, a little more than a year ago, the mere mention of a “podcast” would bring puzzled looks to faces around me whenever I would mention it.

Now, video podcasts are the only way I ever get to catch news anchor Kevin Newman doing his Gemini Award-winning work on Global National. It’s also the only way I regularly check out Charlie – er, make that CharlesGibson anchoring the ABC World News, too. And it’s the only way I have time to see Brian Williams – the AMERICAN one – doing the NBC Nightly News.

When I’m not watching TV on my iPod, I’m watching it on my computer. I play DVDs of shows on my computer. I’m watching more and more episodes of current TV series on it, too, thanks to shows that are now being streamed on the Internet.

After a ridiculously lengthy delay, Canadian TV networks have finally jumped on the broadband craze, streaming both Canadian and American shows on their websites.

In the fall, Global began streaming episodes of such American shows as Survivor: Cook Islands, 1 Vs. 100 and Deal or No Deal on

Never content to be beaten at anything, CTV cut a deal with an American TV studio to bring such shows as The O.C. and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip to a portion of that it calls the CTV Broadband Network.

CTV has even taken things a step further. The network makes episodes of its homegrown TV shows – Corner Gas, Whistler, Instant Star and Degrassi: The Next Generation – available on its broadband outlet. In fact, this season’s premiere of Degrassi was online for a whole week before the show aired on conventional television.

This is only the beginning, too. Will podcasts and broadband streaming overtake today’s conventional channels? Probably. I got a clear indication recently, when the PVR/digital-cable box that is hooked up to my TV messed up and recorded only a portion of the Christmas episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip a couple of weeks ago.

It was maddening – until the realization sunk in that the episode was available on the Internet. So, I watched it again from the beginning – on my computer, not my TV.

Will I actually get rid of my cable box andTV set? Not yet. One thing is clear, though: the big shift is gathering momentum. And the TV universe could change quite rapidly.

Last Christmas, nobody knew that much about podcasts and broadband streaming.

A year from now, it may well be those old, familiar TV channels that are the things nobody knows much about anymore.

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