Yahoo will broadcast a reality tv series called "Wow House" on their Web portal within the next few months. The SF Chronicle calls it an early step in Yahoo's ultimate goal to create television of the future. Wow House has a technology focus, as families participating in the show compete to outfit their homes with $10,000 worth of the latest electronics - such as theater systems, high-definition televisions and stereos. Viewers vote for which family wins, via the website. Revenue will come from advertising and probably product placement.
The most interesting part of this news for me is how tv production for the Web is different than traditional 20th century television. As Ira Kurgan, chief business officer for Yahoo's media group, noted in the SF Gate story: most original tv programming on the Yahoo portal "will be in short form, in bites of only a few minutes, which makes them quick to download and more digestible for people who are multi-tasking." This fits in with the microchunking philosophy of the Web - e.g. blog posts and personalized websites such as Amazon. In 2006 microchunking will increase as structured blogging and similar initiatives take off.
Also, who will create the new generation of Web tv programming? While traditional tv and cable companies will surely develop shows in partnership with Yahoo, it's how Yahoo incorporates user-generated videos that will be most fun to watch. If Peter Jackson, who hails from my hometown of Wellington in New Zealand, can make it in Hollywood - I wonder what other far-flung video-making talent is waiting to be discovered, this time on the Web?
How is tv on the Web different? It will obviously need to be interactive, as SF Gate notes:
"Simply streaming video online isn't enough, analysts said. Chat, sharing and interactive advertising need to be incorporated into the picture to make the experience more compelling than simply watching traditional television."
Factors such as broadcasting to multiple devices (tv, PC, mobile, etc) will come into play, not to mention the challenge of earning revenue on the Web. RSS will probably be a part of it too, as RSS Applied notes:
"I can see something similar to iTunes, but open, that would allow free subscription to your favorite shows with links to the show's site at the end of each show. Of course, the site and the downloaded episode would be monetized with advertising. And, maybe on the site you could choose to download the entire season (before it was released episodically) for a fee without ads."
It's all very promising and I'll be tracking the progress of Web television here on Read/WriteWeb.