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Internet producers bank on Apple TV

After phones, Steve Jobs saves television

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SXSW This will be the year the history books will record as the beginning of the end for the way we watch television.

That was the prediction of Jay Adelson, CEO of Digg and internet tech TV outfit Revision3. Preaching to the choir at SXSW, Adelson said internet TV would render niche cable programming moribund once advertisers get their heads around the medium, and there are more appealing ways to get internet video to the living room.

At a panel event in Austin, producers of niche internet TV said they are pinning hopes on the next charge of set top boxes, led by Apple TV. Advertising cash follows eyeballs, and Steve Jobs' other 2007 launch will be their turnkey to release programming from its current techie audience, members of the SXSW crowd told The Register.

Advertisers are learning the value of small, passionate audiences, even if they are criticised by them. Adelson joked: "My biggest advertiser is Go Daddy, which will touch anything." The domain name registrar has attracted criticism - and millions of dollars in free marketing - for its titillating advertising campaign, which has aired during the Superbowl.

The potential iceberg of copyright control still loiters on the horizon. The halfway house approach recently adopted by Viacom, where it insists it hosts all its own content, freezing out YouTubers but offering a proprietary embeddable player, doesn't impress AOL's director of creative development Nicole Carrico, who said: "If your content becomes successful, it's going to exceed your grasp. They're going to have to relax their death grip."

Some of the distribution end of the traditional TV market is coming to understand that they may not need the protectionist mentality anymore, Adelson claimed. He said: "Traditional distributors are coming to us with non-exclusive deals. This is new stuff."

The message we took away from the discussion was that internet TV has time to take on board the hard lessons still being learned by the music business as it struggles to rid itself of DRM. Despite acknowledgement at the highest levels of record companies that DRM does nothing to protect their revenues, EMI recently canned widely-trailed talks to ditch it. ®

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