HDTV is dead. Long live HDTV.

OK, the title is a bit over the top. But a friend brought to my attention this article about how the leadership at CW was surprised and alarmed by the number of people watching their show Gossip Girl online. And it wasn't just any people, but demographically the younger, more internet enabled group.
This is the first show that seems to have succeeded primarily on the internet. There's something about the combination of the show's premise, the viewers' age, and the available technology that has given Gossip Girl a life of its own online. Not only do fans watch the show on their computers, but they post sightings of the actors on gossip blogs and exchange rumors (about both the show and its stars) on fan sites. You can even play Gossip Girl's Upper East Side on Second Life. It's not appointment television; it's a 24-hour conversation.

Above all, this interactivity with the show provides hard evidence on the number of people the show reaches. This leads to many questions:

  • Are the Nielson and other ratings people obsolete?

  • Will AOL or some other ISP become the next Nielsons?

  • If you're watching online, are you skipping the ads?

  • If you're watching on broadcast will you see different ads than online?

  • Is there a market for direct Internet TV?

  • Is the 30 second ad spot obsolete?

I've been watching a few shows online. 30 Rock is one. I've also been watching Smallville with the kids on broadcast TV.

It's not Superboy at all. More like Beverly Hills 90210 with super powers.

My son pointed out how the ads in-between were for Stride gum, and then in the show one of the characters got super powers by chewing Kryptonite irradiated Stride gum. I asked him if he thought there was a link, and he explained that (at some other time) he'd seen an ad/blurb how Smallville was presented by Stride gum, and there was a special episode written for Stride gum. I guess I'd missed that link.

So I watched the show some more and was amazed at the number of places gum, or Stride gum, or ads on the walls showing stride gum, appeared in the show.

In a way, it's reverting back to advertising of the 30's on radio and 40's on TV. The sit-com, or variety show would include in the story a short break extolling the virtues of Lipton tea, or how Maxwell House coffee is good to the last drop.

So, as we go forward we also go backward.

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