Archives For Video
Unless we’re talking about a classic like the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I’m really not interested in shelling out money to purchase video content. And apparently I’m not alone. The Diffusion Group reports that roughly 90% of US broadband households rent movies on a regular basis. (ZDNet picked up the stats last week.)
Among consumers who rent from a traditional store:
- 15% also use a pay-per-view service
- 14% use a direct-mail service
- 12% use a VOD service
- less than 2% have rented movies online
In my mind, those numbers mean there’s a heck of a lot of growth potential in both VOD and online video rentals. As Dave has lamented before, Web services seem far too focused on video purchases. Given the Google Video debacle, you’d think that renting flicks would be a safer business bet. (No pissed off customers when you shutter your service) I certainly prefer it.
A new set-top maker has entered the fray to the tune of $17.5 million in capital investments. The company, Building-B, says it will have a product in retail this fall that will combine broadcast TV with VOD and Web video. Sounds great. But haven’t we heard that somewhere before?
There’s a reason no one else has come out with a successful “God box” yet. It’s damn hard to make. Plus, the big guys – primarily Cisco and Motorola (my employer) – have proven that profit is more easily made elsewhere. In set-tops that do less, but for a lot less money.
At least in today’s environment, it’s hard not to be skeptical of Building-B’s chances for success. I predict we’ll see several more companies try to make a God box work (including Digeo this year), but it will be a couple of years yet (if not four or five years) before someone really makes a go of it.
What’s wrong with this picture? Raw Feed reported late last week on a new yoga mat that streams audio and video. The theory is you can get yoga instruction or mood music right from the mat. Seriously, has whoever designed this ever done a yoga practice? The whole idea is to disconnect. Plus, I can’t imagine trying to twist around to see the video on the mat while trying to get into a pose. Vinyasa class anyone?
Building the perfect DVR/video-entertainment device is hard, which is why cable or telco TV plus a Netflix or Blockbuster + Movielink service is probably your best bet right now. But lest ye be sitting in your living room bemoaning the state of your set-top set-up, let me offer up a bit of context on why building the perfect box is so hard.
There’s the leased set-top model used by cable operators. In an effort to make those set-tops as cheap and efficient as possible, a lot of constraints are applied. There can’t be too much storage or processing power, too many added features or too much open access for modification that could muck up the service for everyone. Not an ideal situation, but on the other hand, these operators bring DVR to the masses.
There’s the retail model, which is owned by TiVo. People who have TiVo tend to love TiVo, but relatively few people have it because of the price. Plus, there’s the issue of plugging TiVo into your cable or telco network. Either you need a separate set-top from your service provider or you need a CableCARD. CableCARD certification is a serious technical challenge (more than I think most people realize) and it still doesn’t provide access to two-way services like video-on-demand and switched digital video.
Finally there’s the Internet model. All those media extenders that made big news early in the year, and P2P services like Joost (the box here being your computer). Here the problem is both content and bandwidth. Not enough appealing, timely content to keep people happy, and/or not enough bandwidth to keep content flowing efficiently.
So what’s on the horizon? Continue Reading…
I don’t read much in hard copy anymore, but I did leaf through the print version of PC World while on the beach last weekend. One article caught my attention as much for what it didn’t say as for what it did report. The piece, Early IPTV Uses Only a Little of Its Fat Pipe, missed a few critical points. And having made my own share of mistakes and errors of omission in the blogging business, I thought I’d make some amends by adding in information where I do have a little knowledge.
First, the IPTV story profiles AT&T and Verizon, but it does so without making the distinction that AT&T delivers all-IP TV, while Verizon uses RF with an IP return path. Essentially Verizon has chosen to use IP only for certain interactive services, and actually more closely emulates a cable network architecture than AT&T’s offering.