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News   - 10/09/2006

iPod: TV's Odyssey: The Gadget That Transformed TV

A year ago this week, a gadget changed the way we think about television. Apple Computer CEO Steven Jobs and Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger took to a stage Oct. 12, 2005, and told the world it could watch ABC TV hits on the iPod media player.

The announcement accelerated a rush by television executives to deliver shows in new ways-and left them puzzling over how to make a business of it.

A year later, the television landscape is still shifting. Audiences are watching more shows on iPods, cellphones and computers. Networks are figuring out how to accommodate those fans while preserving the schedules that still generate almost all of their revenue. Advertisers are balancing the need to reach mass audiences on broadcast and cable while securing beachheads among new media technologies.

"It's the first time I can remember that the industry has tried to get ahead of a change rather than follow it," said television historian Tim Brooks, co-author of "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows." "The industry has fallen all over itself to find a way to make a business model, monetize and adjust to a new technology. The danger in that is what overtakes us may not be what we're looking at."

The iPod-ABC deal didn't mark the first time TV shows were freed from the confines of the living room set's fixed schedule. Forerunners included the TiVo digital video recorder and a variety of handheld devices. But none of those forays combined a dominant brand of portable gadget with top-tier programming from a major network.

Since Mr. Jobs and Mr. Iger unveiled their enterprise, 45 million television TV shows have been sold on the iTunes download store at $1.99 a pop, success that has helped the deal become a waypoint in the history of TV.


Source: TV Week    
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