Ronald van Raay" (by way of Marja Oosterman <>) on Fri, 9 Oct 1998 14:20:02 +0200 (MET DST)

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nettime-nl: Re: portals, traffic en browsers

Streams of Consciousness
by Joe Nickell

4:00 a.m.  8.Oct.98.PDT
Online video and music broadcasters are beginning to argue that the Web's
original killer app -- unfettered
hyperlinking -- is hurting their business.

The trouble is, viewers can pull up videos and songs, the Clinton testimony
 or a U2 single by bookmarking the
stream's URL in their media-player software. By going to the stream
directly, readers bypass the ads on the online
broadcaster's site, robbing them of business.

"Linking without permission is stealing. Period, end of story," asserted
Mark Cuban, CEO of, one of
the biggest online broadcasters. "It's like tapping your neighbor's cable

In a modern-day variation of the time-worn request, "Don't touch that
dial," several leading streaming-media
content sites are insisting that, in order to view or listen to their
content, users must first visit their Web pages.
Sometimes those pages feature nothing more than a banner ad alongside a
link to the streamed content.

According to Cuban, any other means of dipping into his company's streams
is tantamount to theft.

Go to's main site with your browser. Click through the sports
 section to get to the University of
Kentucky football link. Notice that big ad on top of the video links? If
you bookmark one of those links in your
RealPlayer or Windows Media Player, you can watch those recorded games over
 and over again without seeing
another ad. You're also be running afoul of's
Terms and Conditions.

"Linking directly to the media file without any reference to the site or
link to the site is such a rip-off," agreed
Marc Weitz, technical officer of Compucast. "You're forcing me as a content
 provider to pay for the through-put
without any of the benefits of my advertisers or sponsors getting to that

Analysts say as long as streaming media is supported by traditional banner
ads, content providers will have to try
to force users through a Web-based doorway to their content.

"Linking directly to streaming video on the Web can be a real problem,"
said Seema Williams, an analyst in the
entertainment and content group at Forrester Research. "It costs a lot to
serve that video, and for companies
serving that resource, missing out on their revenue streams is a pretty
critical problem."

Most believe the problem will eventually be moot, once advertising is
inserted directly into the streams. The
industry is beginning to embrace the Synchronized Multimedia Integration
Language, which lets Web designers mix
text and streaming media in a way that's currently impractical with plug-in

Nonetheless, in-stream or "interstitial" ads currently make up less than 10
 percent of the overall ad inventory of
most streaming-media providers, according to market researcher Jupiter

"The fact of the matter is media buyers are just getting the idea of how to
 sell the Internet in terms of banner
ads," said Scott Ehrlich, executive producer and senior vice president of
Fox News. "You have to do that for a
while before you're looking at inserting ads" into the streamed media

What's more, online broadcasters are having a tough time forcing their
business philosophy onto hardcore
netizens, whose most basic belief is that information is meant to be linked
 and cross-linked. That's the point of
the Web, after all.

"Unfortunately, some people have set up their business models to be
incompatible with the philosophy of the Net,
which is freely linked," said Thomas Edwards, president of The Sync. "I
feel bad for them, but I can't feel too

Edwards said his company, which creates original streamed content for the
Web, sells mostly banner ads, but
ultimately recognizes that in-stream ads represent the only hope for

"If you're coming to a medium to make money, you can't expect that medium
to change itself to fit your model,"
said Joey Manley, director of Free Speech Internet Television. "If they've
got a model that requires these kind of
restrictions on links, then their model is fundamentally broken, and
they're not really interested in being on the
World Wide Web. It's the media maker who is comfortable in a distributed
environment who is going to succeed."

Related Wired Links:

Web Ads Invade PC Apps

RealNetworks Video Steps Up

Clinton Video to Flood Net

AtHome: Broadband Ads Are Boss

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