There’s something very interesting going on in the net neutrality wars outside the hallowed halls of our legislature. Internet or “over-the-top” companies are not sitting still waiting for broadband providers to shut them down when consumers start over-consuming in the bandwidth department. Instead they’re actively courting network operators to make sure their content gets transported effectively over broadband networks. In other words, the net neutrality issue has already moved far outside our legislative process. It’s being negotiated in the halls of business.

Wired noted that the FCC is currently conducting an inquiry into whether broadband regulation is needed. Unfortunately, the deadline to submit comments was June 15th, but you can still reply to comments until July 16th.

Ars Technica suggested sending in a comment if you know of examples of “broadband providers charg[ing] upstream providers for priority access to end-users.” I don’t have any proof in that area, but I do have two examples worth citing where it’s clear business discussions are in the works:

  1. Regarding the selection of former Cisco executive Mike Volpi to lead online video company Joost, In-Stat analyst Gerry Kaufhold suggested that the choice was “more significant than most people realize.” He went on to comment:

    “To make P2P really work, they’re going to have to get buy-in from broadband operators,” he says. “If you’re Comcast and have a hundred thousand people sharing Joost bits up and down your network, you’re going to be impacted. I think Joost wants to be a good neighbor — another reason the Volpi appointment is useful. If Joost can find a way to allow those who have made a large investment in last-mile access to participate, I think that makes them an even better service and able to grow faster. If Joost wants to get preferential transport, Mike can call people up and make things happen.

    This quote comes from a recent article in ScreenPlays Magazine. (Italics my own)
    Continue Reading…

BitTorrent Good For TV?

Dave Zatz —  June 16, 2007 — 14 Comments

Though the studios just enlisted AT&T to go after their file-sharing customers and Azureus is being sued in France, I wonder if BitTorrent has some legitimate value for the content owners/creators. (Sure, BT can be used to share non-copyrighted media – but let’s be serious.)


Here’s the situation: My buddy Jason told me to check out Traveler, so I set up a Season Pass on TiVo. Only problem was, the third episode was airing and TiVo didn’t find any repeats of the earlier shows. Now what? I visit ABC.com and discover they have the first and third episode available for web streaming, but they’re missing the second (and now the fourth). Considering Traveler is a serial, I can’t miss any episodes. So off I go to pay the iTunes tax of $2/show only to discover they don’t offer it. Xbox 360 Video Marketplace? Microsoft doesn’t have a deal with ABC. All I (and ABC) am left with is BitTorrent – I downloaded the still-buggy FoxTorrent and headed off to The Pirate Bay. And guess what… BitTorrent helped make me into a live ABC television viewer. Not to mention I’m now pitching their show to others. Will it be enough to save Traveler?

In order, here’s how I watched the first four episodes:

  1. ABC.com – The interface can be a bit tedious at times, but hey it’s free and works on Macs.
  2. Xbox Media Center (XBMC) – The Xvid download looked nice on my HDTV.
  3. TiVo Series3 – Timeshifted HD.
  4. ABC – The series is so good, I’ll watch it live going forward.

Continue Reading…


Two media extender announcements in one week! Can it get any better than that? ;) Archos joins DivX in by releasing details on TV Plus. Engadget had some hands on time with the prototype and reports Archos will offer DVR functionality including an IR blaster to control that cable box, in addition to typical media extender features. Given their previous DVR dabbling (via portables), I wonder if Archos will provide any guide data. The remote is particularly interesting — with it’s jog dial and qwerty keyboard, it kinda reminds me of a screenless old school Blackberry or Moto pager. TV Plus is scheduled for a fall launch at a cost of $200 – $350 depending on hard drive size. Of course, there’s really no telling how large (or small) the market is for media extenders – how many boxes can it support?

Archos also announced several new portable media players this week but, like PDAs, this is a dying market segment for most companies. Heck, Microsoft even killed their PMC OS. As small devices gain power and we tire of carrying these multiple gadgets, we’ll see enhanced multimedia functionality built into our smartphones which will receive more mainstream attention. Oh yeah, something called the iPhone is about to drop.

UPDATE: Michael Gartenberg confirms these devices will offer an EPG. Hm, interesting…


The web video train keeps on a-rollin’… Chime.TV is a video aggregator consisting of human-generated “channels” and custom searches that pull content from a variety of online destinations such as YouTube, Google Video, Metacafe, and MySpace. The web interface is relatively pleasant and can be sent full screen. Creating an account allows you to save those custom searches as “channels” and add friends, a must-have for all Web 2.0 properties.

(via TechCrunch)

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  June 15, 2007 — Leave a comment

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs.