So who will create this new NextGen TV content when it only costs a few tens of dollars a month to be a television channel? Toward the end of the previous century, it was envisioned that with multicast, every college student in their dorm room, every person with an idea and the passion to share it could become a TV channel, and the number of channels would be as numerous as the number of Web sites on the Internet. But YouTube drastically changed that equation.
Being a television channel typically means transmitting content 24x7. It turns out that's a lot of time to fill and most college students and people with ideas/passion don't have that much material. They have video to share, but maybe just a few minutes of it each day. YouTube fit that role perfectly. For this reason, the number of NextGenTV channels isn't likely to approach the number of Web sites on the Internet.
However, there still are a significant number of potential sources out there who have enough programming to fill the day. High schools could show their sporting events and coverage of other extracurricular activities that might have large enough appeal to gather significant viewership from remote audiences (family, friends and other high school sports fans). When traffic and weather cams can deliver indispensible content to thousands at a fractional cost than what is currently available, you will see far more traffic and weather cams. International programming could provide enormous opportunities. Today, there might be a single TV channel available on cable/satellite to cover a country or region. With NextGenTV, there could be dozens.
In nations where the state controls all media outlets, the thirst for independent content sources is enormous. Here, the opportunity for NextGenTV goes well beyond adding banal content to the existing channel lineup; it could spark revolutions and change regimes. It's one thing to have Web sites and short YouTube clips available that shine a light on oppressive governments. It's quite another to have television channels broadcasting content continuously to the masses. The political and societal impact of viewing these previously unseen images on television screens will change the course of history.
Winners and losers of NextGen TV
With a television lineup that included potentially millions of channels, the most obvious winner would be the viewer. Viewers would enjoy brand new content that previously wasn't possible - grandparents could watch their grandchildren compete in sporting events thousands of miles away, immigrants could reconnect with their homelands, etc. However, viewers of traditional television would also be big winners.