All Things D on P. Allen Smith and the Future of TV

Want to see the future of television? All Things D's Peter Kafka says it looks a lot like what Arkansas-based garden and home expert P. Allen Smith is doing with his own eHow channel on Google's YouTube:

Kafka, contemplating the future of television in a post here for the Wall Street Journal's ATD site, talks about how streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are poised to exploit consumers' thirst for TV reruns. And original web programming like the kind Smith began churning out for YouTube in January is a perfect example of how the web can do reality TV cheaper and better:

To my eyes, it looks a whole lot like “real” reality TV — multiple camera angles, professional edits, and an easy-to-understand narrative. If you were scrolling through channels on your couch, it would seem familiar, at the very least.

It’s a whole lot cheaper than “real” TV, though. An hour of similar programming on Scripps’ HGTV may cost something like $250,000 to $350,000. An informed guess places Demand’s costs at something like $100,000 an hour for its stuff. Quite likely much less.

Kafka thinks that if web starts getting the eyeballs, it could become a more attractive buy for marketers and drive down what cable companies are willing to pay to carry channels like HGTV. Of course, as Kafka notes, Smith's eHow channel doesn't get the huge numbers. Not yet, anyway.

This is obviously where Netflix, Hulu and Google thinks it's going, though. And investments like the one YouTube is making in channel's like Smith's shows web programmers are ready to hurry up and get there.