Current TV was ahead of its time. In 2005, when internet video was limited to the likes of Channel 101 (Tilzy.TV Page), Current set out to “open up the television medium” as it’s founder, Al Gore, reiterated during an Emmy Award acceptance speech earlier this year. The problem was, Current recognized the ability of the internet to democratize television programming, but it didn’t recognize the web’s emergence as a predominant distribution medium for news video.
The floodgates of democratized television are slowly creaking open, and this progress is due only in part to the efforts of Current. They missed the boat by treating their website as a “feeder system” for their cable channel instead of a destination itself.
But today Current TV became just Current with a new destination website that’s a place to explore, connect, contribute and watch. It’s a “social news” destination that combines original, exclusive content with social-bookmarking and community features similar to Digg and Del.icio.us.
The new site includes a tutorial video that describes the new features in a much groovier tone than I but, unfortunately, I can’t embed it. Come on guys!?!?
I’m particularly impressed by the interface for viewing TV content on the web. It allows users to interact with and comment on content, and to actually impact the experience for views on traditional TV. The interface itself is also eye-catching and intuitive.
The Viewpoints section is another worth mentioning. It features video comments direct from users on political issues ranging from Torture in War to Prayer in School. It includes a polling feature that displays viewer responses to video commentary that creates a civilized virtual town-hall atmosphere.
So, Current really does aim to take back democracy, but not without a little capitalism. VCAMs are advertisements created by community members. Brands provide logos, music, and more, and filmmakers can take stabs at commercial videos that pay.
Television on the web is a user-guided, interactive experience that builds community around brands. Now Current gets it.