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The impact of streaming. A book tells what TV will be like…

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The impact of streaming.  A book tells what TV will be like…

Generative artificial intelligence entered our lives just over a year ago (November 30, 2022, which corresponds to the day the ChatGPT software was launched on the market, is usually chosen as a symbolic date).

The irruption of generative AI has been so pervasive and profound that we almost did not notice the other changes, including social ones, in our relationship with technology.

One of these is given, for example, by online television, which in the near future will correspond to almost all of our use of video content.

The impact of streaming is the emblematic title of a substantial essay by Eli Noam, released for the Italian public in March 2024 (minimum fax, translated by Livia Novello Paglianti), which reflects on the peculiarities and effects of online TV.

The author

Authors of The impact of streaming is Eli Noam, who teaches economics and finance at Columbia Business School and directs the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information (CITI).

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As a scholar he deals with the economic, managerial and regulatory aspects of the media and the digital world, and with the ownership structures of the means of communication. He has written and edited more than thirty volumes.

The impact of streaming

The impact of streaming has as a subtitle Video content, regulation and society.

It is a very dense essay of 730 pages, which describes a technology that is almost in its infancy (and the effects it will have on users and on society): the third generation of TV, the one conveyed online. The author talks about the third generation, reminding us that the first was that of traditional broadcast TV, based on a few channels, and the second was multi-channel cable or digitalised television, which gradually moved towards a more varied and tailored offering. tailored to the user.

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As regards the third generation, that of online TV, The impact of streaming investigates a very vast range of aspects and consequences. For reasons of space, we limit ourselves here to reporting some of the most suggestive passages of the essay.

Tomorrow’s TV: how the relationship with viewers is changing

Online TV shows some radical changes in the relationship between content and users.

Meanwhile, clearly the user of online television frees himself from passive use, in favor of an increasingly personalized schedule. We then move towards an increasingly active use also in the sense of interactivity. Certainly in the context of virtual reality, but also with regards to content whose progress the viewer will be able to modify according to his own taste. This is why Noam speaks of an epochal transition from “narration” to “experience”.

To ensure that each content is increasingly individualized, let’s read about it The impact of streaming, other factors will intervene. One of these is localization: the schedule will also change depending on the geographical coordinates of the recipient. The contents will be designed for use on the move, they will be increasingly immersive and interactive.

It goes without saying that all shopping strategies will also move in the same direction.

The social impact of streaming

The chapter of the book dedicated to the social impact of streaming is important.

In summary: Online TV will be able to provide suggestive stimuli but also non-trivial risks. Among the former, Eli Noam cites the consequences of a more active use of contents, which could lead to new ways of socialization, and to a more rapid development (as well as globalization) of culture.

Among the risks, in addition to the “significant concentration of the market at a global level” (p. 307), mention is made of the “reduction of consumer privacy and increase in surveillance” (p. 320). In addition to psychological dangers such as the reduction of the attention span, or the “mixture of the real world and the virtual world“.

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Need for regulation

For this reason, the next chapter of The impact of streaming is a reflection on the need for TV regulation of tomorrow.

Regulations that will have to cover various and complex areas. First of all, consumer protection, which involves privacy but also the quality and authority of the contents. Then the market, so that excessive concentrations of power in the hands of a few companies do not arise. Furthermore, the protection of copyright, and finally – on the technological side – the guarantee of usability for the largest possible percentage of the global population.

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