Archives For Media

AOL, Google, The News, & I

Dave Zatz —  February 21, 2011 — 25 Comments

In the last couple of days, two respected Engadget editors have resigned (details here & here). Amongst their publicly disclosed grievances, both cited the AOL Way – which appears to favor assembly line content. Quantity over quality, current, and search engine optimized. While Engadget hasn’t yet been subjected to the AOL Way, these defections make many wonder if the writing’s on the wall. Instead of continuing to evolve as a largely independent (and loved) entity, will Engadget be consumed Borg-like into newly appointed Huffington’s AOL media empire?

Along with this discussion is a renewed debate over ‘blogs as journalism’ and eHow Google might deemphasize the likes of low quality content farms. From a blogger with stints at Mashable and Engadget:

Almost everyone uses Google to find out more about news that’s happening right now, whether it’s tech industry stuff, celebrity breakups, or political revolutions. Unfortunately, the rules Google uses to determine which websites gain strong rankings — and thus frequent traffic, high impressions and strong ad revenues — betray journalists and the people who need them at every turn. Google’s algorithms and the blog linking customs built around them favor those who write first, not those who write accurately. I have no qualms about producing entertainment and other products to meet demand. But journalism must not function this way if it is to remain useful.

And it certainly seems like many pander to Google. For example, TechCrunch (another AOL property) was once a blog purely dedicated to Web 2.0. They were extremely successful and I was a regular. But I suspect it’s been even better for business to expand their reach by covering Apple’s every move.

Yet, building a business around Google’s indexing and oversized influence shouldn’t necessarily be burdened with negative connotation Continue Reading…

Verizon FiOS TV CES 2011 3

When Verizon launched FiOS TV, it launched it as a hybrid QAM/IP service – using QAM for broadcast television, and IP for VOD services and widgets. That’s about to change. Quietly, and very much behind the scenes, Verizon has been running an overhaul of its infrastructure in order to be able to deliver everything over IP. This is not IP as in the free-and-clear Internet, but IP as in a managed IP network used to deliver both multicast and interactive content.

In a meeting with Verizon exec Joe Ambeault here at CES, I learned that the company is very much committed to moving everything to its new IP platform. Consumers watching traditional FiOS TV should never see a difference, but by transitioning to IP, Verizon will have an opportunity to deliver its television service to a wide range of web-connected gadgets in the form of an app. In other words, FiOS TV will become just another service you buy in an app store – accessible across multiple screens and delivery platforms. In theory, consumers could even bring their own broadband to the table (FiOS or otherwise) and just layer FiOS TV on top.

The implications for this paradigm shift are a bit overwhelming, but in the short term, we can think of it just as a way to get access to content on more devices. If FiOS TV is an app, there’s no reason subscribers can’t access their shows from a tablet, smartphone, or laptop. The content doesn’t get delivered as part of a parallel TV-Everywhere system, but as a single IP solution that goes across every screen that consumers might want to use. We’ve seen hints of this in the new FlexView brand, but the model goes much further than anything we’ve seen deployed yet. As far as Verizon is concerned, the technical challenges have pretty much been solved. Again, in theory, consumers who don’t have access to FiOS Internet could get the television service added on to an existing non-Verizon ISP contract. That won’t happen any time soon, but the reasons are purely commercial, not technological. And the commercial situation is changing all the time. Continue Reading…

The big TV manufacturers are all pushing 3D very hard, consumer sentiment be damned. But they’re also all getting on board with their own smart TV offerings, including services with app stores, and content that can be place-shifted to different devices. Yesterday Samsung and Panasonic both showed off their own TV app markets: Media Hub for Samsung, and Viera Connect for Panasonic. Samsung is touting TV episodes that can be accessed from mobile Galaxy devices, as well as an app ecosystem that it’s currently building out with developers. Panasonic showcased apps for Hulu Plus, MLB, BodyMedia, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Withings, and Ustream during its event.

As the TV manufacturers jump into the app space, how will it change the landscape for both pay-TV operators and over-the-top box companies? (Not to mention the likes of Yahoo…) It will be interesting to watch.

If you’ve been missing CBS shows on your various connected devices, cheer up. “America’s Most Watched Network” is now coming to more gadgets courtesy of new licensing deals with Boxee and Samsung. The Samsung deal was announced yesterday at the company’s packed press conference and will bring CBS shows like CSI, NCIS, The Good Wife, and Survivor to Galaxy S smartphones and Galaxy Tab devices. (A new Wi-Fi-only Galaxy Tab was also announced yesterday, but that’s a different story.) Samsung announced the Media Hub service late last year for its Galaxy devices. It’s currently available with T-Mobile and Sprint, and “coming soon” to AT&T and Verizon.

Meanwhile, Boxee’s news came out this morning, with GigaOM reporting that Boxee users will soon be able to purchase both current and older CBS TV episodes on demand. GigaOM points out that this makes Boxee soon to be the only startup able to nail down agreements with all four major broadcasters. Interestingly, the shows cited by Boxee as CBS examples were Hawaii Five-O and MacGyver. Does this mean Boxee will have different content from Samsung? Probably not, but it’s interesting to speculate how the broadcasters could be doling out their content rights.

While Comcast and Verizon have been the most vocal about connecting the TV experience with tablet devices, AT&T announced a new technology today that shows the U-verse operator isn’t letting the TV/Tablet trend pass it by. According to reporting from Engadget, the new tech uses Wi-Fi to connect mobile devices to AT&T set-tops. It supports DLNA and adds in authentication, a TV interface, and application context. And in a twist, the operator is opening up the technology to let developers create their own U-verse applications. AT&T’s sample application, ComplemenTV, gives you remote DVR scheduling on the iPad, and program guide info with connections to Amazon and Home Shopping Network for product purchases. Now this is interactive TV.