Leo Laporte gave a great keynote address at Blogworld today which included news that content from his media company, TWiT.TV, will now be available on the Roku, a $99 set-top box that also brings Amazon, Netflix and other IP-delivered video content straight to your TV with little to no friction. Leo is spot on that podcasts, to date, are still too difficult for the average person to download and enjoy, and announcements like this one are absolutely key to the future of downloadable media.
I have been an avid supporter of the podcast industry for years now--I hope my body of work illustrates this--so I am pleased to see one of our leading podcasters blaze yet another new trail and further open doors for other content creators. I do have two niggling concerns, however.
First, there was a statement from Leo that we are no longer "new media," we are THE media. That can be interpreted two ways. One way to read that statement is that we--traditional and new media--are now one, and we can put divisiveness behind us and collaborate to make great content (and $$$) together. The other way to read it is a bit more "us vs. them," and as rousing a rah-rah speech as that might make at Blogworld, I truly hope we all don't feel the need to play that game.
Second, I can't wait to watch TWiT (and other niche content I am passionate about) on my good ole' American McBigScreen. But consider this: when video podcasts were confined to portable devices and desktop computer distribution, they competed in the same space as Dramatic Squirrel and crying Britney girl. Now, podcasts will co-exist side-by side with CSI, Glee, Top Chef and (soon!) American Idol. I realize that this consideration set has technically been in existence for some time, but there are two barriers to entering a consumer's considerations set: technical, and psychological. The technical barrier is breached. Getting consumers to place podcasts and broadcast television programming in the same mental consideration set is still an open question. Let the competition for my media time begin in earnest.
Setting aside the irony that we are celebrating the face that we can now watch new media on that big old media box, this is still awesome news, and Leo deserves a hearty slap on the back. Now, for everyone in the space, you've really got to up your game.