Yesterday afternoon Josh and his friend Harry were hanging out after coming back from playing basketball all morning.

They were on the couch in the family room but the TV wasn't on. They had the kitchen laptop on the couch with them and were watching videos on youtube. The Gotham Gal and I looked at them and observed that we were looking at the future of television.

Later, after Gotham (as Howard Lindzon refers to her) and I got back from a wonderful dinner at John Dory we sat in the family room and fired up the mac mini and Boxee on the big screen TV.

We had seen a cute film yesterday early evening before dinner called Management and there was a Three Dog Night song in it called Never Been To Spain.

So we searched YouTube for Never Been To Spain and watched a few videos of the song, including a 1972 live version by Elvis Presley in Vegas.

That led to an hour and a half of me VJ'ing our way through dozens of great YouTube videos. We watched the New Pornographers do a great live version of Adventures In Solitude (also featured in the Management film). That led naturally to Neko Case doing Letterman and a few other Neko Case live videos.

Then we watched a bunch of old videos of MGMT when they were called Management and were students at Wesleyan.

And from there it was a romp through a bunch of Of Montreal live shows.

And then we ended up at La Blogotheque for about a half dozen of their videos ending with the incredible version of The National's Start A War outside under the stars after a wine soaked dinner in france.

As we headed off to bed, I remarked to the Gotham Gal that we had just participated in the future of television.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Ari Herzog

    If you’re jockeying videos, is that DJing or VJing?

    1. fredwilson

      Ah yes, vj’ing would be correct

    2. fredwilson

      i corrected the post, thanks

      1. Ari Herzog

        Ahh. It was more of a question than a presumption.

  2. BmoreWire

    Vincent Moon is the man. A couple years ago I emailed back and forth with him when I used to tinker around with making documentaries to ask him how he gets the effect that he does on his La Blogotheque and he told me he simply films it with a fairly inexpensive HD digital camera and then adds filters or effects in final cut pro. Pretty awesome that a guy like Vincent Moon can make a name for himself and create product that rivals the big hollywood studios with a couple thousand dollars worth of equipment and software.Vincent Moon’s Production Company

    1. fredwilson

      He’s great

  3. John Grimes

    I don’t think we are that far away from simply having a flat panel in the living room with wireless network connectivity.No set-top boxes, DVD players, pay-TV boxes, Tivos or games consoles: just a single device with an inbuilt media player and web browser.Imagine how much neater it will look without all those cables – and how much less electricity we will use without all those devices sitting there on standby!

    1. Vlad

      It will be called Cloud TV.

    2. markslater

      well if you read the Cisco article in business week – other plans are afoot. (OK its business week not ‘real’ journalism 😉 they see the set top as being a key node in either delivery, or intelligence in the home. (read – pandering to the cable companies who are using their last piece of true leverage – see content and current distribution channel).I think this is what the likes of boxee are fighting – the early stages in the great explosion of yet another flawed and inneficient value chain – but i have never used it so only going on what i have read here.i am not sure if we will need a set top box? do we?also – and OT – they were wanking on about telepresense – i am really confused here. My wife works at P & G and they have one of those telepresence conference rooms at the end of her office – it remains empty 90% of the time as it costs too much. Meanwhile i speak with Indonesia from the east coast 4 times a week – often having to look at product prototypes, materials etc – I use skype. In fact a lot of our company worldwide does. The great irony is that a board member is a high up cisco chap!is it possible they have set top boxes and telepresence wrong?

  4. Derek Kreindler

    I don’t know how old your son is, but I’m in my early 20’s and this sort of thing is common for us, especially before going out on a weekend night. Youtube has all the music that any given person’s iTunes doesn’t, so it lends itself well to this sort of thing.

    1. MattCope

      Absolutely – this is how my friends and I share content when we’re all in the same room.What bugs me sometimes is the absence of a good queing system. Doesn’t it seem like the loudest person or the person at the keyboard dictates what gets watched next? …Fred, I’m sure you’re very good. : )I’m dying for a video playlist for whenever someone says “OH! Have you seen MotherLover? We gotta watch that!” MotherLover goes into the queue, and if the group doesn’t like it, ffwd to the next piece on the playlist.

      1. fredwilson

        This is a big idea in a simple package (what I always look for)I want what you describe but I want it everywhere (in my email, on my phone, in FB, twitter, etc). Basically wherever I come across a web video urlI want to send that url to a queue (like the netflix queue) that I can watch in any brower (FF, safari, boxee, etc)Build it please!

        1. Adrian Palacios

          Fred,One of my previous roommates loves web development and didn’t like having to embed a new player for each video on his MySpace, blog, etc. He thought it’d be much better to just grab a URL, and add it a playlist for one embedded player.So, not specifically for queing, but what he built has to the potential of being close to what you want. You can check it out here: Right now it only supports five or so sites. Something he did in his (little) spare time 🙂

          1. fredwilson

            Thanks. I’ll check it out

          2. fredwilson

            I just checked it outIf your friend has any more free time, tell him I’d love a bookmarklet for adding URLs

        2. MattCope

          Fred – thanks.I don’t know him, but I thought the Twitter link feed Doug Estadt built for you was a good first cut at this proposition.I’m with you. I think building queues across platforms (email, sms, FB, twitter, face-to-face), would be extremely useful. My ultimate would be a system that organizes these recommendations by media vertical – socially recommended queues for articles, books, songs, web videos, movies, etc.

    2. Jon Knight

      At 49, I’m about to give up my TimeWarner cable subscription for full web TV viewing. Checking around with various providers on the net I find that literally everything I watch is available (except ‘Local on the 8s’ Weather, and I can look outside for that).It’s the future for many, but like the guy above implies, it’s the present for some.edit: and who needs a “set-top” box? My computers handle this nicely.

    3. brianerickson

      what’s interesting to me is how google will monetize this content for labels and bands, or if anyone will ever be able to police all the copyright stuff on there.anybody else familiar with imeem owing record labels $30 million for the sum of all the times a song is streamed on there?im working on a music industry project so i’m curious to see how it all pans out. bands like radiohead and green day are already trying to get as much of their stuff off of youtube as possible.

  5. David Semeria

    I don’t know if that’s quite the future of TV, but one thing I think is pretty obvious: in the future people will feel no need to own any physical media.Already my mp3 library is so large, I just play the songs in random order. At that point it’s just like listening to my own radio station.So the next logical step is to just tune into whatever music stream I want to listen to, and in the process save myself the work involved in maintaining my own music library.

  6. Avg Entrepreneur

    Sounds like an incredibly productive day, it’s hard being a VC.

    1. fredwilson

      Not really

      1. kidmercury

        dont let the haters get you down boss, personally i encourage you to brag about your wealth and rub it in, post pictures of yourself drinking dom and sportin’ bling

        1. fredwilson

          I do that on my tumblog

  7. petercowan

    next time why not make a youtube playlist of your vj’ing? sounds like you have great taste in music? 🙂

  8. kenberger

    A fun and practical first step to what you describe would be: during the movie, launch Midomi or Shazam on your phone to capture what song it is, or hum it later into Midomi after the movie, if it’s still stuck in your heads. I find myself doing this a ton during the course of my day for real-world music discovery– at cafes, pizza joint, watching a movie at home, at a live concert to id a track.What both companies need to do is allow you to have a sign-in and then access all your tagged tracks on the web. Then when you get home it’s 1-click to kickstart the Youtubing session. Even better: they offer your tag stream as an RSS feed. Then I can easily access it today on Boxee!

    1. fredwilson

      i definitely need/want a queue for web video

  9. kenberger

    Speaking of Boxee, I’ve had my home media center project running for a while now, and am breathless on how essential Boxee has now become to it, even in Alpha Windows form.There is NO CABLE TV attached– all content is free and comes in and out via the ‘net. Boxee has enabled a ton of functionality and practicality. The IR remote control that came w/ the PC works much better w/ Boxee than it ever did w/ Windows Media Center, and I can also use iPhone Boxee as a remote, which is actually preferable because it’s not line of sight (as the IR remote is).

    1. fredwilson

      yes, but Boxee can and will be so much better. i’ve seen the roadmap and if they execute on half of what they have in front of them, it will be transformative

  10. Jonathan Tals

    fred – i still dont really understand boxee. if i want to watch internet video on my TV, all i need is a video and audio cable to connect my laptop to my TV. add a wireless keyboard (logitech makes a great mini one) and i can stream youtube, hulu, etc.why wouldnt the next generation of TV simply have processor, hard drive built. just connect to internet, and you have i can imagine a future where families sit in a living room together, all with their own laptops and headphones, watching something else…

    1. fredwilson

      Think of boxee as safari or firefox. Its just another browser but one that is optimized for the tv and the 10ft experienceHave you tried it out?

    2. kenberger

      re 1st para: nice in theory, sounds like you haven’t actually done it. As w/ every tech frontier that emerges, until some user-friendly products come out to tie things together, CE offerings seldom if ever hit mainstream. Boxee today ties together sources from a widely disparate and nascent 2nd para: I’m not connected to the company, but would bet that that is exactly where they must be directing key efforts- help TV manufacturers provide a TV set w/ a means to accept a ‘net connection but no cable or antenna. I could be totally wrong about this company, but i know that’s what *I* would do.

      1. fredwilson

        Me too ken

        1. Jonathan Tals

          i will try it now, will let u know. thx for the clarification.

  11. David Semeria

    Fred, did you ever go to CBGB’s in the Ramones/Blondie/Talking Heads/B-52s era?If the answer is yes, would you mind downloading that part of your brain to a usb stick and sending it over?Thanks 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      Nope. I didn’t get to NYC until ’83 and by then those acts were playing different venues

      1. David Semeria

        That must quite annoying, at least it would be for me.My only claim to fame is to have seen Rick Astley (of rickrolling fame) play in front of 10 very unimpressed people in Widnes Labour Club circa 1984.

    1. fredwilson

      That link didn’t work too well for me phil

      1. ppearlman

        sorry fw, worked for me just now again… song called ‘sunlight’ by three dog night, obscure but totally worth tracking down..

  12. Kim B

    Fred, isn’t what you and Gotham Gal were engaged in really more accurately described as the future of MTV rather than the future of all television? I mean the service that MTV and VH1 used to provide whereby you could explore and discover new music and cool videos is long past dead on their air. YouTube and the web have stepped in brilliantly on that front. But to get all your high quality movies and TV dramas this way does not seem to be so close. There is the small matter of who will pay for 24 or the Simpsons or Curb Your Enthusiam (no pun intended).

    1. kenberger

      I hear ya, was thinking the same: YouTube may be the future of MTV, which is just a subsection of television.Maybe Fred wanted to say that *Boxee* was the future of television, but didn’t wanna Pimp his PortCo.

    2. fredwilson

      Yes, we were watching the new version of mtvJosh and harry were watching the new version of espnI think we could, if pushed, concoct new versions of most, but maybe not all of cable TV today

  13. Seth Lieberman

    …and this led to me going and buying some old Talking Heads after watching the MGMT cover….

    1. fredwilson

      My 18 year old is so into the talking heads these days. I told her to get more songs about buildings and food

  14. GrishaRemake

    I think that relationship between TV and YouTube is the same as relationship between Book Publishers and Public Libraries.YouTube is not a TV business, it’s just a new generation of Public Library – with content that almost impossible to monetize.Boxee vs Hulu show us that there will be no place for third party distribution channels in Entertainment Industry.IMHO YouTube and Boxee could make money if they join your Hack Education movement. The question should be not “How Boxee can help Hulu”, but “How Boxee can help Katie Salen and her school?”

    1. fredwilson

      i agree that third party distribution channels like Hulu are a tough business, but i think Hulu has a chance given that its owned by the content creatorsbut i agree that the greater value is in the presentation layer that the consumer controls, like firefox or boxee

  15. Daniel Weinreb

    I don’t think YouTube is really the future of TV. At least, I hope that TV in its present form doesn’t vanish leaving only YouTube behind. Although some TV is going downhill (particularly the networks, who are focusing on content that’s cheap to produce), there are also some great shows on (Mad Men, Damages, The Closer, Life on Mars, and Battlestar Galactica were some of my own recent favorites). I don’t expect to see expensive and professional content like this on YouTube unless YouTube changes a lot and we move forward several more big steps in the technology of communicating videos to computers and watching videos on computers.

    1. fredwilson

      I think my headline confused people about what I think is the future of tvIts the ability to get it through the internet onto any devide you want to watch on and the ability to completely control the experience

  16. Dan Buell

    YouTube did for video exactly what I wanted the Internet to do for video, they offered a place to store and share your videos for free. If you think back several years ago and look at all of the copycat services on the web, that’s just amazing. Does the web need 40 video sharing services or more? No. Why then hasn’t YouTube closed the deal, clearly they have the best known brand.I think YouTube has not locked down the video sharing universe for two reasons, both of which are why I don’t use it personally:1. The video quality is generally lacking compared to other sites such as Vimeo or even Flickr.2. There are so many 15 year old kids on YouTube that make it such an unpleasurable experience. Case in point, I’ve posted videos of my family and had comments about how “f@!#ing ugly” they are, threats of rape, etc. I posted a video of John Wayne’s gravesite and got called every name in the book from a “liar” for it not really being John Wayne’s grave because he really isn’t dead to a grave robber who was going to hell. I know I can close or disallow comments but that kind of goes against the whole idea of sharing doesn’t it and I really don’t want to get into specialized invites for a video only page. If I’m going to do that I’m going to build a password protected blog on WordPress or somewhere like that and host the videos there so that a single password gives friends and family members open access to all of my content.I think Google really needs to clean up the nonsense on YouTube or it’s going down ultimately. Then again, when it comes to social content, Google has always seems content to not perform to their potential.

  17. Olivier

    Almost all TVs in Japan have an Ethernet port and integrated web browser built in. The Japanese CE companies even created their own portal that you can access through the menu on your HD TV. I believe the broadcast linear television will continue to exist for many many years… The really hard question is how to bring these two worlds (= Broadcast & Broadband) together in a meaningful way for consumers.

  18. Gregg Smith

    Fred (and others interested in the online video segment) check out …a series of 5-8 minute shorts about the Memphis music scene. Notable artists include Amy Lavere and Snowglobe/Tim Regan (there are some bad ones too, so be warned). Craig Brewer of Hustle and Flow did them and while the acting isn’t award-winning, I think its a pretty unique take. MTV is running them Friday nights at 11 and they are all free online. AT&T paid for is a documentary video site with more background on the artists, locations and other assorted Memphis stuff. I was skeptical, but have to admit I’m impressed. Good music with a story produced for the web.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks for the tipSounds great

  19. CarlosPapiBaez

    If You Like YouTube, You should check This website like its name suggest, It lets the viewers watch the best of Youtube in a condense and enjoyable way. So that the viewers won’t get tired of watching entertaining videos.This website may need some Venture Capital to keep growing?.Beside, That Its name is part of one of best Landmark of the internet (YOUTUBE).The potential growth of the website is exponentially huge. Plus, its photoshop Images are unique for its gossip blogs.

  20. bill_roberts

    I know the feeling – I had a fun couple of hours at the weekend with a few friends, when a casual mention of Transvision Vamp led to an impromptu 80s nostalgia-fest on Youtube.

    1. fredwilson

      80’s nostalgia! I would have enjoyed that

  21. Andrea Harrison

    great post. totally agree that the distribution has become super fragmented. someone should be very afraid.

  22. Prokofy

    This future has been here for awhile, even for people like me. We haven’t had a TV for years in our family. It’s all YouTube, Yahoo news clips, various foreign news Internet sites like BBC, then Second Life, World of Warcraft, Facebook.Why would you have TV when you can script and prop your own show on something like Second Life? And why sit through endless fires in New Jersey when you only need the one news story you want out of Yahoo? Of course, this is destroying the civic fabric of the nation and making people think that reality is something they digitalize and select themselves — and of course, it isn’t, and then it has a way of sneaking up on you like swine flu.There is a future of television, and it isn’t just in fracturing into endless Hulu, YouTube, etc. But, it will be in only one of the multiple windows on the big wall panel. Or the floppy plastic sheet that accepts broadcasting and narrowcasting…

    1. fredwilson

      I’m not sure its destroying the fabric of our society as much as knitting a new fabric