Archives For Industry

BitTorrent Gets Legit (Yawn)

Dave Zatz —  February 26, 2007 — 1 Comment
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It’s déjà vu… all over again! Following in the footsteps of Napster, BitTorrent has a new business model: selling (non-pirated) media. Originally announced nearly a year ago, the legit video site launches in a few hours.

There’s not really much new or compelling here (regardless of what P2P technology may or may not be running under the hood). BT uses the same basic pricing model and same DRM (Windows) as most other PC-based services in this space – Amazon Unbox, for example. The NYTimes elaborates:

The BitTorrent store will work slightly differently than rival digital media offerings like the iTunes Store of Apple and the Xbox Live service of Microsoft. BitTorrent will commingle free downloads of users’ own video uploads with sales of professional fare. And while it will sell digital copies of shows like “24â€? and “Bonesâ€? for $1.99 an episode, it will only rent movies. Once the films are on the PC, they expire within 30 days of their purchase or 24 hours after the buyer begins to watch them.

(via PVRWire)

Shortly after I purchased my first TiVo, a friend of mine wanted to know my thoughts on whether or not he should get a DVR. Like any rabid obsessed TiVotee, I immedietely started gushing over, all of TiVo’s innovative features and about how much of a transformative effect, time shifting has played on my life.

After trying to hard sell him on a TiVo unit for over three weeks, I finally succeeded in convincing my friend to buy a DVR, but instead of going with the TiVo unit I recommended, he went with the ReplayTV 5000. I tried to talk him out of it, but no matter what I said he wouldn’t budge. I showed him the superior interface, I let him test drive my own unit, I tried pointing out that suggestions and wishlists were exclusive to TiVo, I even tried to scare him into believing that Replay would possible stop working, if the company went bankrupt. No matter how hard I tried though, I couldn’t convince him to choose TiVo over that ReplayTV 5000 unit because it had a feature no one could touch. Automatic commercial skipping.

When TiVo first launched, the movie studios completely freaked out over DVR technology. They understood early on, the impact time shifting would play on their revenues and went to great lengths to put a stop to it. Initially, TiVo wanted to partner with the studios, but instead the studios threatened to sue the company, if they even launched their product. Hollywood’s huffing and puffing turned out to be little more than hot air when it came to TiVo, but when ReplayTV had the nerve to introduce automatic commercial skipping, the studios knew they had to draw a line in the sand.

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Content Sluts

Mari Silbey —  February 21, 2007 — Leave a comment

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Joost Screenshot

Are the big media guys turning into content sluts, willing to throw their content anywhere they might get an audience? The big Joost/Viacom announcement makes me wonder. Not that Joost isn’t potentially a wonderful service (I haven’t tried it), and not that big media shouldn’t spread its content far and wide, but it’s an interesting change to the business model.

While the end of the 20th century was all about syndicating specific shows, it may be that the beginning of the 21st century is all about making aggregated content, even entire networks available across multiple distribution channels.

There’s also a point to be made here about CE makers and service providers who try to woo consumers with exclusive content. The strategy may work in the short term, but in the long term I doubt it will be terribly successful. Consumers want flexibility and media producers want consumers to have broad (if paid) access. More distribution means more money, so why not sell to anyone who will pay you well? (Unlike YouTube, apparently…)

xm-sirius-merger.jpgThe rumors have been going on (and off) for a couple of years, so today’s XM/Sirius announcement doesn’t come as a huge shocker. They’re hoping to seal the deal by the end of the year. Though, we’ll see if regulators (and shareholders?) allow it to go through… HD Radio is advertising heavily here in the DC area (home of the FCC and Congress) which actually should help XM/Sirius make the argument that they aren’t competing against each other, but rather they are competing against AM, FM, and now HD… plus Internet radio.

While a joint satellite radio company should be able to share a variety of expenses and thus cut costs, they also get to share debt and the challenge of attracting and retaining subscribers. If the merger comes to pass, current Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin will run the company with Howard Stern as CFO.
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There’s a new trend in online video that I’m entirely in favor of. Editors. And for that matter, producers.

Yes, people have learned that most user-generated content is trash and the way to make money is to provide better filters. Hence the recent Facebook/Ziddio announcement and efforts to offer promising video producers a little professional support.

On the Facebook front, the company has teamed with Ziddio.com to select top video submissions for feature placement on the Ziddio site. In addition, through Ziddio’s relationship with Comcast, these same top videos will be available through on-demand cable. Don’t waste time rummaging through heaps of crappy video. Let someone else do the rummaging for you, then sit back and enjoy the show.

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