In the wake of the WGA Writer’s strike many news sites glommed onto stories regarding new online-TV partnerships like this one just formed with Fox & Yahoo:
Twentieth, Yahoo! Plan Joint Show
Twentieth Television has entered a deal with Internet mega-site Yahoo! to develop a series featuring popular Web videos for syndication that could air next year.
According to sources close to the situation, the potential series, which is in active development by the distributor, would be a fast-paced program featuring the hottest videos from around the Web. Should the project move out of the development stage, it would be offered as a Monday-through-Friday show to stations and launch next fall.
When are TV people going to learn that no one online is going to watch a TV-style “clipshow” of popular web videos? Those who hang out online have already seen them. As for syndicating the same content to be broadcast on television, TV-watchers don’t like watching a bunch of low-res, compressed web videos interrupted by 30-second advertisements.
No one likes clipshows. This isn’t “content creation,” its just exploiting the amateur public videos that don’t require any union staff.
Think of this as “reality tv” for the ‘net from the ‘net.
Microsoft Finally Copying Apple’s Set-Top Box
Microsoft Corp. and its hardware partners are trying to bridge the divide between home computers and TV sets this holiday season with the release of several “media extenders.” These TV set-top boxes will connect wirelessly to computers running the Home Premium or Ultimate flavors of Windows Vista and enable users to use their TV sets to watch movies, TV shows and Internet video that is stored on their computers.
The problem with “convergence” technologies is that while more of our media are becoming trapped on our computers, do people like grandma really want to spend the time to hook up the finicky things to their TV set? Perhaps one day when computers are as reliable as VCRs (Tivo anyone?) they will. But in an age when you can hook your iPod or even iPhone up to the TV to watch video, why spend so much effort trying to hook up a Windows computer?
Dedicated hardware always wins in the end (even if that dedicated hardware is just a software computer in disguise).
Apple’s “Hobby” Looks Like a new Career
Recently at the All Things Digital conference, Steve Jobs described Apple as:
We’re in two busineses today, we’ll be very shortly in three business and a hobby. One is our Mac business, second is our music business, third business is the phone business, handsets. And the hobby is Apple TV. The reason I call it a hobby is a lot of people have tried and failed to make it a business.
It seems today that the new hobby is really a fourth business.
A film would cost $2.99 for a 30-day rental. Its digital rights-management software would allow films to be moved from a computer to at least one other device such as the video iPod or iPhone. The software would prevent movies being copied.
One studio executive said the service would “compete against cable companies and anyone else offering VOD into the home”.
It seems Apple is determined to do to movie downloads what it did to music downloads but this would mean that the AppleTV has to become as ubiquitous as the iPod. Perhaps it will be a hobby for a while.
The Secret Apple Attack Against Adobe
With the rise of YouTube came the implicit conclusion that the online video format wars were over and that Flash Video (.FLV) had rendered both Apple’s QuickTime (.MOV) and Microsoft’s Windows Media (.WMV) formats to the trash heap of history. But Steve Jobs may have found a way to secretly move YouTube away from the low-resolution and low-quality Flash Video format and strike a decisive blow against Adobe:
...Youtube will be encoding all of their videos into a “H.264 streaming-efficient compression format” specifically for the Apple TV. All of Youtube’s videos are currently encoded in Flash Video (FLV) format.
While no official reason is given for the mass transcoding of Youtube’s entire catalog, Macformat.co.uk believes it has to do with the iPhone.
“As far as I know even now, Flash content per se might not play on the iPhone from day one. But Apple clearly doesn’t – indeed, shouldn’t – care, as YouTube is for many people the most critical site that uses Flash.”
Indeed, both the iPod and iPhone can play H.264 encoded video, and so it seems the entire Youtube catalog may also become available to those devices later this year.
It’s almost as if Steve Jobs took a move from Bill Gates’ Microsoft monopoly playbook, by tying the video format to the hardware devices, content providers have no choice but to adopt Apple’s video software. Although it seems interesting that the Apple “tail” managed to wag the YouTube “dog.” Who needs whom more?
Have You Been Approved by CBS Yet?
We came across this thought-provoking tidbit:
CBS News has announced a partnership with internet TV leader Brightcove, in which the news organization will use Brightcove to syndicate ad-supported video across the Web. Approved Web publishers will be able to embed a CBS News video player onto their site. In addition, Brightcove.com will offer content from CBS News.
Nothing is interesting in hearing yet another broadacaster making a deal to distribute their content online but what is interesting is that they are taking a step backwards technologically. Birghtcove makes an embeddable flash-video player but apparently only “approved web publishers” can embed the video. We can understand that some companies might be nervous about their brand being linked to an unsavory site on the internet but isn’t it silly to stop people from watching your ad-supported content? Which committee thought that was a good idea?
We can hardly wait to endure the tests required to become an ‘approved’ CBS News video ‘publisher.’
Another Nail in the Coffin for Cell Carriers…
If you thought the iPhone redefined the relationship between Silicon Valley and the U.S. cell carriers, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet:
The venture capitalists L. John Doerr and James L. Barksdale have joined an investment group that is promoting a plan that would open a portion of the radio spectrum for both uses, through technologies flexible enough to support both next-generation wireless Internet devices and public safety emergency communications.
The plan is being put forth by Frontline Wireless, formed earlier this year by Reed E. Hundt, the former Federal Communications Commission chairman. Frontline Wireless is one of several potential bidders for spectrum in the 700 MHz band, used until now by UHF television, that is being opened up by the move to digital.
Mr. Hundt said that Frontline had begun building an investor group, which would ultimately include large banking partners, to participate in the auction. Significantly, the company’s first public investor was K. Ram Shriram, an early Google investor and board member and managing partner of Sherpalo Ventures.
American technologists have often complained about the poor status of domestic cellular and broadband technologies, often accusing them of holding back the great internet revolution. As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Rather than continuing to complain, Silicon Valley has decided to pursue what it does best which means they’re just going to have to do it themselves. In the end, why would the incumbents contribute to their own demise? It was nice that Apple could work out a deal with Cingular/AT&T;but its a whole new ballgame when tech companies like Apple have obsoleted them out of existence.
You Already Have the Bandwidth…
Tom Evslin points out that the bandwidth crunch isn’t necessarily in the last-mile to our houses:
But wait, you say, my Internet connection already comes into my house on my cable. And so do all 200 channels. So I’ve already got enough bandwidth. You’re right; you do. It just has to be rearranged a little. And remember, you’re not even gonna need to bring in 200 channels at once, just the ones you’re actually watching. Maybe you should get a rebate.
His argument is that the real network crunch is further up the chain, back at the telecom end.
The Apple iPhone Tail is now wagging the Cingular/AT&T Dog
You have all probably already read hundreds of “analyses” of Apple’s new iPhone. But what they all left out is why Apple’s device is so revolutionary. As Ajit Jaokar so rightly points out, this has nothing to do with the slick technology in the phone itself:
The first supported carrier will be Cingular. Supported carrier? Since when did devices support carriers? Carriers support devices. Not the other way round! Hence, is the tail now wagging the dog?(Not necessarily a bad thing IMHO!)
Eric Schmidt Denies Hush Money Claim
According to RedHerring, Google CEO Eric Schmidt faced some tough questions about one of our popular postings recently:
Mr. Schmidt, however, denied that Google set aside a huge amount of hush money to be paid to media companies, which create a big chunk of the content uploaded to video hosting sites, to look the other way when copyrighted material is illegally downloaded to YouTube, which hosts videos that are viewed 100 million times daily. But Mr. Schmidt said Google is negotiating with the big entertainment companies over thorny copyright infringement issues, but solutions aren’t simple. “We’ve talked to everybody,” Mr. Schmidt said. “All the [media] companies have complicated rights management systems.”
Does it really matter if there is a “hush” money fund if suddenly all the media companies are willing to “negotiate”? In the end the effect is the same, copyright infringement can flourish on YouTube while it is crushed on smaller competitors. Oh well.
YouTube on Cell Phones?
According to a WSJ email alert:
Verizon is in advanced talks with YouTube to bring the popular Web site’s videos to cellphones and television sets, in what would be a landmark link-up between telecom and Internet video.
If you thought bringing YouTube to Comcast posed a problem to your TV remote we can’t even begin to imagine navigating on your cell phone. On the other hand, most YouTube content is perfect for the 2 inch screen on your mobile. Too bad none of us here at BBB use Verizon.
Isn’t it amazing how wireless carriers still don’t get that the open nature of the internet is what makes it so popular?
Newest Cable Channels: YouTube & Revver?
Marketwatch reports on what is the logical conclusion to user-generated content:
Comcast Corp., the Philadelphia cable-TV and Internet provider, is considering the prospect of sending user-generated content—including home videos run over YouTube Inc. and Revver Inc.—across its video-on-demand service, The Wall Street Journal Online reported. It has held talks with some of the largest Net-video companies, including YouTube, which has agreed to be acquired by Google Inc., the Journal reported.
Bridging the gap between the computer desktop and the television in the living room seems to be the obvious outcome of the death-of-television-as-we-know-it. But we wonder how Comcast will solve the problem of searching millions of short video clips from the web with nothing more than a TV remote.
Comcast Getting into the IPTV Game
Looks like Comcast is dipping their toe in the IPTV waters:
Don’t be afraid. It’s only the future.
On Halloween, something called FearNet is set to make its debut, offering scary movies and other horror programming on demand.
The video service will be available through not just a digital cable channel, but also online at FearNet.com and via mobile phones, suggesting a prototype for what TV networks will be in the years to come, if not sooner.
It’s a niche service set up to offer viewers its programming completely on the terms of their choosing--how, when and wherever they want it.
Starting with niche programming sounds like a great idea but is there enough of an audience to justify the new infrastructure?
Are they really that afraid that putting popular content will cannabilize their current viewership?
Where’s the Money?
In 2007, U.S. advertisers will spend $5 million on online video ads. By 2011, the amount spent is expected to grow 160 percent to $1.3 billion. While spending on text ads will continue to represent a greater part of the total online advertising market, the segment is expected to grow at a slower rate—45 percent—over the same period, according to the Jupiter forecast.
Let’s ignore for the fact that their math is wrong (magazine writers aren’t exactly noted for their arithmetic). With all the buzz around online video lately you’d think that there was piles of cash just sitting around for the taking. $5 million? That’s it? There are a lot of new companies that are going to be out of business soon. The entire market in five years will be less than the entire amount Google spent on YouTube.
Why Upload Only the Bad TV Shows?
Marshall Kirkpatrick over at TechCrunch laments rather than welcomes Fox’s announced plan to put episodes of the O.C. on Myspace:
In some ways then, this is just a little toe being put in the water and the TV strategy remains the same it’s always been. We’ll know the web is being taken seriously as a platform when shows in high demand are put online and kept online.
Marshall is probably giving way too much credit to Fox. They probably have no idea what to do with the goldmine that is Myspace and therefore make only “toe-dipping” excursions into that large scary wormhole we call the internets. Fortunately for us, there are still plenty of illegitimate places to get the latest episodes of shows we’d never admit to enjoying in public.
More Concessions to Local TV Affiliates?
An interesting approach:
Local news video from 16 CBS-owned television stations will be available on online portal Yahoo Inc., the companies said on Monday.
Splitting the ad revenue with Yahoo may cut profits but gives local TV affiliates a way to feel that they are not being given the cold shoulder. How long will CBS use a middleman before hosting the local stations themselves? Presumably those affiliates will want to see some profits from the online ads to make up for the lost audience share.
Skype Founders’ Venice Project Revealed
“The Venice Project” is the super-secret startup by the founders of Kazaa and Skype which aims to really kill your television:
While the software turns your PC screen into something that looks a lot like your TV, the capabilities go far beyond anything you’ll experience in your den. Jiggle your computer mouse, and a variety of tools appear along the edges of the screen, even as the video continues to play. At the bottom of the screen, there are controls like those on a DVD player, including stop, pause, and fast-forward, as well as a search window to find new videos. An image on the left includes a menu of preset channels. And on the right, there’s a set of interactive tools that let you share video playlists with friends or family. An image at the top of the screen identifies the channel and the name of the clip you’re watching. All of the images can be expanded by clicking on them with a mouse.
Yahoo, Intel to pipe sports data to TV screens
After a decades of speculation it seems convergence is finally starting to appear:
The service, called Yahoo Sports for TV, will let users get detailed statistics for ongoing games through a menu overlaid on a television screen and operated with a remote control.
We’ve seen a demo of the system and its quite impressive but we’ll have to see what happens when it hits the real world. Menus are great on a computer but take on an entirely different feeling when you are relaxing on the couch with a simple remote.
NBC embraces TV 2.0 part 2
He may be stating what has been obvious to everyone for years but at least he is admitting it:
NBC Universal Chief Executive Bob Wright on Monday predicted more advertising will occur within television shows in the coming years—through sponsorship or product placement—as ad-skipping devices become more popular.
“The skipping issue is going to have a lot of different dimensions,” said Wright, speaking at an Advertising Week event in New York. One outcome, he said, would be that “advertisements will move more into the program.”
He goes on to tout “event programming” just like the Olympics that NBC has the rights to this year (what a coincidence). It seems that NBC is on a tear to embrace the inevitable this week.
Struggling NBC Embraces TV 2.0
Competition does a funny thing to corporations, sometimes it even makes them consider changing their ancient patterns:
If you work at NBC Universal, beware the ides of September. Peacock staffers are sweating bullets over the impending release of what the company is calling TV 2.0, a proposed top-to-bottom reorganization of the network to streamline it for the Internet age.
Still ranked in last place among the TV networks, NBC is now deciding that some urgency has entered into the Internet-TV equation. We’ll wait and see whether they see the light or are merely adding new window dressing.
If this doesn’t scare you…
A few postings ago we thanked our lucky stars that the FCC doesn’t regulate the Internet. We should be careful what we wish for:
Martin said he didn’t think the FCC had the authority to regulate online content, as it does with broadcast, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like to. He told Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) that he thought “all policymakers should try to make the Internet a more decent place,” but said that was a challenge, pointing out that it had been challenging enough in the broadcast space, where the FCC does have authority to regulate decency.
1. He admits they have no right to regulate the net.
2. He admits that they’ve done a terrible job regulating TV & Cable.
3. He still wants to regulate the net.