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Hulu-Desktop-dies

Several months ago Hulu quietly pulled their Desktop software from download to barely a ripple in the blogosphere – which I found somewhat surprising giving the company’s various machinations as they decide what they want to be when they grow up and who controls the purse strings. Well, Hulu has now gone ahead and made it official:

Hulu Desktop had a good run, however we’re sorry to share that it will no longer be supported after January 31st, 2014. This means, it may still work for the time being, but we will no longer be actively updating it or fixing bugs. Instead, we’re going to put all our efforts towards refining and improving the other ways you can continue to watch Hulu on your PC, Mobile, and Living Room devices.

(Thanks Brad!)

ActiveVideo AmEx ad

TV service providers have had a monopoly on the consumer television experience for years, but the CE guys finally have a chance to get in on the game. From LG’s launch of WebOS TVs to the incorporation of the Roku platform in TCL and Hisense sets, CES is full of news about how the TV companies are banking on delivering better software to differentiate themselves.

As Dave alluded to, however, it’s hard to imagine that consumers are going to pay too much attention to software when they buy a TV. Worse, the messy ecosystem means it will take longer for any useful new applications and features to gain traction. How are content companies and developers going to deal with creating TV apps for a thousand different connected TVs, set-tops, and streaming sticks?

The one interesting solution out there right now is ActiveVideo’s CloudTV distribution platform. Continue Reading…

playon-hd

One of PlayOn’s perennial dings has been the lack of high definition streaming. But, starting this month, both new and existing customers can upgrade from 480p to 720p… at a cost – both in terms of fees and required quad core processing capabilities. As a refresher, PlayOn lives on your home PC (sorry Mac owners) and relays web video to mobile devices and set-tops around your house (using native DLNA capabilities or dedicated PlayOn apps like this Roku one). While its companion product, PlayLater, is your web DVR – enabling you to record and offload video from the likes Netflix or Hulu. Looks like the going rate for new customers is $70 for both PlayOn and PlayLater, with HD capabilities and without messing with a monthly subscription – although that may be worth a gander before fully committing.

Chromecast for Christmas

Mari Silbey —  November 25, 2013 — 17 Comments

Chromecast stocking

There may be no better excuse to buy gadgets en masse than the holiday shopping season, and this year Google has nailed the stocking-stuffer price point at $35 for its Chromecast streaming video stick. It’s not just Christmas either, of course. I’m a sucker for alliteration, but in reality, Chromecast is going to be the gift of choice for many a holiday celebration this winter.

Chromecast has a lot more going for it than just price. Google added HBO support last week and is reportedly getting ready to release an SDK to developers in the near future. The more apps that integrate with the hardware, the more valuable Chromecast becomes. As someone with a Roku box, I was initially uninterested in using Chromecast for to watch Netflix. However, I installed the Chromecast plug-in on my first-gen iPad, and when the tablet prompted me to choose between my mobile device and my Chromecast-connected TV to continue watching a show on Netflix, I decided to test Chromecast viewing.

The result? Continue Reading…

Fox, Other Nets Try New Way of Nagging You to Watch Their Shows

Verizon FiOS TV CES 2011 3

Well this could put a damper on Verizon’s currently cozy relationship with the cable industry. According to the New York Post, Verizon – like so many companies – is in talks with “major programmers” about creating a national, Internet-based pay-TV service. The Post says that while Verizon has pursued access to particular shows in the past, it’s now exploring what it would take to acquire the content rights for a “full suite of channels.”

Verizon has theorized about offering FiOS TV as an app for years, but sadly has been slower to deliver a decent mobile app than several of the larger cable companies. The big question now is not whether Verizon will go down that road eventually (despite its cable alliance), but how and when someone, anyone brings an Internet-based TV service to market. I’m not talking about an option like Aereo, but a true, content-loaded, bring-your-own-device, pay-TV service.

Let’s take a look at some of the possibilities. Intel and Apple are “negotiating” with programmers, with Intel threatening to launch a service before the end of the year. Time Warner Cable has released apps for the Xbox, Roku, and select smart TVs. Cox is experimenting with Fan TV in California. Dish Networks’ Charlie Ergen has talked publicly about going over-the-top with TV service. And the list goes on.

The Internet TV era is definitely coming. Verizon knows it. The cable industry does too.

Jinni interface

We first heard that Microsoft was licensing Jinni’s video search and discovery technology back in 2011. Now, however, the two companies have made their intentions official. Jinni says it has signed a multi-year agreement to power the recommendation engine on “Xbox video game and entertainment systems.” The news comes less than three months before the scheduled launch of the Xbox One.

Jinni has been on a tear this year. The company signed up Time Warner and Vudu as customers back in January, and I discovered in June that Jinni will also be embedded in the upcoming Comcast X2 interface.

Recommendation engines are big business, and there are a lot of companies vying for licensing deals in the TV space. Jinni’s technology uses not only standard content metadata, but also data tags that describe qualities like mood and style for different entertainment titles. Jinni’s machine-learning system processes all of that data and uses it to recommend new content that viewers might like.

Says Dave Alles of Microsoft, “Our goal is to make it effortless to get you to entertainment you’ll truly love. Pairing Jinni’s Entertainment Genome with other key advances such as Conversational Understanding, makes finding something to watch on Xbox as fun as watching it.”