Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, one of the keynote speakers at the NewTeeVee Live event today in San Francisco, believes that the only way to reach "video nirvana" is to put the Internet on television by building browsers into TVs and getting rid of remotes.
And according to Hastings, to get there we only have two options: fix the current TV model, or reinvent television via the Web.
Television VS Web
The advantages of traditional television are many Hastings told the audience today; a set fee per month, the ease of use (set top boxes), software can be updated quickly and easily. But its failings are significant too. The media landscape is changing, and what traditional television is missing is that "crazy, innovative Internet culture," something, he points out, that broadcasters are quickly realizing they want.
On the flip side is the Web, which right now has many problems when it comes to video, but significant advantages. Looking back, Hasting walks us through the advances and problems with online video. The first breakthrough for video on the Web was flash; the problem of course was that we needed to install codecs. The second breakthrough was YouTube streaming; that proved not only was it possible to put video on the Web, but that it was hugely popular. However, since then, there have been a plethora of products and services all competing for the same space, and make no mistake, the online video space is enormous.
Reed Hastings at NewTeeVee Live
Realizing the Vision
The vision of the video industry is a simple one: to let you watch whatever you want, whenever you want, and wherever you want, and to help you discover what else you might want to watch.
"In terms of what you want to watch, we may be 15 percent of the way there, but this will grow with time" said Hastings. "When you want to watch is covered 100 percent, but when it comes to where you want to watch we're still limited to the laptop," the preference of course is the big screen. Finally, when it comes to discovery, Hastings said we're at 25 percent.
To move ahead, we need a general standard, Hastings explained, a standard that we can publish to and a standard that all devices can support, the only problem with standards, he pointed out, is that they can take several decades to be implemented.
According to Hastings, the simplest solution is to have the Web as a standard with browsers built into televisions. It will require only three components: broadband, a high definition screen and a remote. But, not any remote, a pointer much like the Wiimote, that allows users to easily control content on the screen.
"The breakthrough will be in the remote," he said, and predicted that we'll see this new pointer remote at CES 2009. If his prediction proves correct, it could mark the beginning of the end for the remote, and the start of the next revolution.
If you're interested in watching Reed Hastings keynote from NewTeeVee Live today, we've embedded it below.
See also: New hires at Netflix on our new "on the move" blog, Jobwire.