Creeping into computers across the nation, ManiaTV! aims to replace conventional television with Internet broadcasting.
"ManiaTV! delivers the next revolution in television," according to the Web site, Maniatv.com. Maniatv.com was launched on Sept. 5.
ManiaTV! claims to be the first to offer television over the Internet. Live programming 24 hours a day and seven days a week power the Denver-based station. Free to watch from any computer hooked to the Internet, ManiaTV! resembles something of a meld of VH1, MTV and ESPN.
Using "cyber jockeys," ManiaTV! runs a steady stream of music videos, animated short films, sports clips and pop-culture snippets around the clock.
ManiaTV! runs approximately two minutes of commercials per hour. Only 2 percent of ManiaTV!'s programming is devoted to commercials, compared the 30 percent of commercial time on conventional cable television, according to A.C. Nielsen, a company that provides television audience measurement.
Up and running for less than three months, ManiaTV! is reaching out to Internet users across the country and is using students to help promote it.
ManiaTV! has hired many promotions employees around the country, called "Campus
Maniacs," to spread the word about ManiaTV!. CSU's Campus Maniac is
Bradford Cheatwood, a junior business management major at CSU.
"It's cutting edge, and no one has realized the possibilities and technologies before," Cheatwood said. "There (was) absolutely no Internet TV, and ManiaTV! is leading the Internet TV revolution," Cheatwood said.
Many cyber jockeys working at ManiaTV! fit the "college student" stereotypes.
"CJs are the viewers' peers," said Justin Stromberg, ManiaTV!'s campus maniac manager.
Stromberg said about 70 percent of their programming is devoted to music videos.
Greg Boiarsky, an assistant journalism professor at CSU said that Web sites like ManiaTV! have a draw for audiences in the short term, but in the long term, the service does not hold much ground.
"What you're going to see is convergence," Boiarsky said.
A melding of Internet and television will happen eventually, but on a larger scale, he said. With broadband subscribers already receiving television, Internet and telephone service through one wire, a time is not far off when media users may have one box that does it all.
Because the quality of Internet video depends on the speed of a user's connection in addition to their computer's hardware, viewing results are mixed, sometimes the images can be grainy and jumpy. This equates to a large number of viewers who are unable to see programming in the adequate or desired quality. Most high-speed Internet users are connected through a phone line, cable wire or DSL connection, which delivers information at a fraction of the rate of an expensive T1 or T3 connection.
It's this slower speed that makes Internet television in its current form unappealing, said Boiarsky.
"Right now they've got a niche," Boiarsky said, "but until high-speed (Internet) becomes a reality, these guys are just going to have fun."