Broadcatching: the RSS-ification of television news

A Webjay user named Brett Singer has been conducting an interesting experiment: a playlist of daily news clips. (Like all Webjay playlists, it can be subscribed in RSS.) I heard recently that TV remains the primary news source for three-fourths of Americans. Can that possibly still be true? I never watch TV news. But this new clip feed might change that, at least a little. TV has the resources to do things like take you to the North Pole to see and hear a scientist evaluate the melting ice pack, and a military analyst discuss the implications of an ice-free northwest passage. I won't watch something like that on CBS's schedule, and I won't even watch it on TiVo's schedule (since TiVo doesn't have the granularity for named two-minute segments), but I might find two minutes to watch it on RSS's schedule.

There's not a huge diversity of sources here -- the clips I've seen are mostly CBS, with some BBC and PBS. But that's already enough to give you a taste of what the RSS-ification of TV news will be like. It'll be a smorgasbord from which you sample, without regard for media brand, in response to the recommendations of your trusted group -- who are in turn influenced by your recommendations.

Webjay's creator Lucas Gonze uses the term broadcatching, which seems to have arisen at the intersection of RSS and BitTorrent. Given the relatively slow start for personal video recorders, it could take quite a while for this second-order phenomenon to catch on. If the PVR numbers that In-Stat/MDR has made up are even in the ballpark -- 40 million PVRs worldwide in 2008, extrapolated from 4.6 million this year and 1.5 million last year -- the RSS-ification of TV news can fly under the radar for at least a few years while CBS et al. absorb the impact of TiVo. And that's probably a good thing. Because if pages like this become pages like this too soon, the collaborative thing won't get a chance to happen.

Former URL: