In a locked-down television landscape, here is an outpost of innovation and access for alternative media voices and delivery formats: Internet television, made and delivered in a format that effectively competes with traditional mainstream television channels while offering news and views you dont normally get to see.
This week marks the official public launch of Current TV, which lets television viewers like you, broadcast their own videos to the world.
Differently than other early grassroots projects that have recently emerged in this direction, Current is not a chaotic assembly of user-uploaded personal clips of dubious popular interest. Current showcases quality amateur and independently produced video content coming from all kinds of different sources, but selected for its production and content values as well.
Current hourly programming schedule
Amidst this content contributed by viewers, Current TV airs new segments which leverage Google Zeitgeist data to highlight trends in what people search for using Google. Jointly created by teams at both companies, these Zeitgeist segments are aptly named Google Current.
In other words: Current TV is the new, US-based open-source internet television channel in which users direct and decide what's really hot.
Current is about what's going on: a look at what's new in culture, style, technology, music and more, with much of the content produced by viewers themselves.
Current builds a bridge between the Internet and TV, allowing people to create, customize and freely select what they want to learn and find out more about.
Here the details:
Although a large share of Current’s programming is professionally produced, the unique component to Current's offering is “viewer-created content,” or VC2.
Members of the online “Current Studio” can tap into an online assignment desk from Current's programming executives and go after the same stories that the Current in-house production team works on.
After shooting and editing a piece, Current free-lance contributors can upload their video clips directly to the Current’s website. What’s more, submission are showcased online so that fellow viewers and collaborators can review and rank submissions, potentially voting the best ones onto the air.
An incentive program rewards prolific contributors, offering to pay them up to $1,000 per piece, depending on how many make it on air.
Twenty-five percent or more of Current programming will be likely viewer-created content according to estimates published in Current official launch press release. Anybody can join in to produce VC2 (and get paid for it) or watch and vote for what goes on TV. The content is "packaged" in iPod shuffle-like playlists glued together by short video interstitials and commentary played out by Current hosts.
Current shuffle playlists include the “Current Playlist” (music
for the digital generation), “Current Parent” (advice for first-time parents), “Current Gigs” (career guidance and job leads), and “Current Soul” (latest trends in spiritual awakening) but there are lots more (explore the full list in the last few pages of this PDF).
Current follows the global news pulse via Google Current, a new short video segment which provides a real-time view of what the world's searching for, presented every half-hour around the clock. Google essentially reports on what its users are looking for in popular culture and on the breaking issues happening around the world.
Content on Current is about topics ranging from technology, fashion, music and videogames, to the environment, relationships, spirituality, politics, finance, and parenting... subjects not easily found on mainstream TV channels.
Announced since early April this year, Current is finally launching with a enthusiastic team of executives.
Behind Current TV is former US vice-president and presidential candidate Al Gore and entrepreneur Joel Hyatt.
"In May 2004, Current laid the foundation for its national presence when the company’s founders acquired Newsworld International (NWI), a 24-hour channel dedicated to global news produced by The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. With its launch on August 1, 2005, Current builds on the former network’s reach into nearly 20 million subscriber households in the U.S. via DirecTV’s basic digital tier, Time Warner Cable’s basic tier, and Comcast systems in key markets."
The channel will rely for much of its content on submissions, both raw and edited, from viewers. They will also be given an opportunity to choose whether certain videos deserve to be aired on Current by voting through its Web site creating a continuous enabling loop between the traditional delivery channel and the new emerging Internet Television experience.
Among the most interesting aspects of Current is its apparent broad open-mindedness about how a new kind of quality grassroots television channel can be created.
The video content available is indeed first-quality, interesting and engaging and I frankly would not know wat to recommend among the many interesting video clips I have already been watching while studying Current.
Even for what it relates to its own business model, Current may be exploring and breaking new grounds in directions few if any have taken any steps so far.
Viewer-created ads maybe one, and in my opinion this IS going to be the most sweeping change in marketing and advertising promotion to happen in a while. I in fact like it, want it and think it is the very best way to go to move out of the fake, glamorous and overhyped messages still sent out via million-dollar TV ads.
Confirming that the proof is in the pudding, I was delighted and comforted in seeing listed among Current staff a name that I don't easily forget when it comes to "see" the future of media: Robin Sloan. Robin is the curator of Current online blog and among many other things the author of EPIC, one of the most fascinating future-exploring short clip I have ever seen (reviewed and transcribed here).
I invite you to explore Current TV on your own and to report and comment on what you will see.
I personally liked very much what I saw and would like to personally give my full support and endorsement to such a courageous effort to break away from traditional mainstream television.
This is a good first step in the right direction.
Current broadcasts its programming over satellite, cable and the Internet. RSS feeds of Current content programming is also available.
For people in the US wanting to tune-in on Current on their standard TV sets this is what to do:
On DirecTV "Total Choice” or channel 366.
On Time Warner Digital check channels 103 in New York City, 116 in LA. On Comcast in the San Francisco Bay Area, channel 125.
For more info, input your ZIP code into the box in the upper-right corner of the Current home page.
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N.B.: If you want to participate and contribute to Current news and views monitor what happens at the Current Studio. Though not easy to find this is the meeting point for all Current street reporters.