Posts tagged ‘Hulu’

A One-Channel TV

Got to thinking the other day about the last 10 foot problem, i.e. getting media from either your computer or the Internet to the TV. No shortage of available or announced solutions: TiVo, AppleTV, XBox, etc. Even Nintendo is apparently trialing a service in the U.K. to get the BBC’s iPlayer to your living room via your Wii console.

I’m still a bit puzzled about the underlying strategy for this, however. There’s obviously an attempt to differentiate each box, but I just can’t see how it might drive sales by itself. XBox delivers movies, AppleTV allows YouTube access, Wii incorporates iPlayer, DLink’s DivX adapter had Stage6 (sigh). I guess for a select few this might make sense, that the service tail might wag the electronics dog.

Me, I want it all. I want YouTube, Hulu, iPlayer, Veoh, as well as any video currently on my PC. Not to mention whatever hot new thing comes out tomorrow. But since nobody offers a consumer electronics solution to provide all these, I guess I’ll just….wait.

And wait.

After all, who would want to buy a TV that only receives a few channels?

Certainly, one could always hook up a PC to their TV directly. Or use a Media Center PC of some type that provides most/all of this. But that’s likely too much trouble (and technical savvy) for joe sixpack and sally soccer-mom.

Is it any wonder that there is no surefire convergence solution? It the holy grail here simply a browser on your TV?

Until that time, perhaps the PC still needs to be in the equation somehow. After all, everything on the internet is already accessible via the PC, including not-yet-dreamed up video sites and (this is important) easy billing solutions. Maybe trying too quickly to bypass the computer is a mistake. Maybe this is a two-phase process:

  1. First, something that allows easy, format-agnostic streaming of anything on or accessible by your PC.
  2. Evolution to a pure Internet TV (or a simple internet front end to the TV).

Why would I ever buy a box that didn’t do at least one of these things, unless it had another purpose (e.g. gaming, DVR)? The problem, of course, is that the industry is trying to manage the profit stream by linking boxes to services, cutting special content joint ventures, building new advertising paradigms, etc. That approach largely ignores the consumer.

Where would the television industry have been if RCA had cut a deal to deliver ABC content and local news, while Panasonic TVs showed only CBS and the weather?  What if Sony VCRs had only played movies from Disney and Sony?

Disclosure: I hold no position in any of the stocks mentioned here.

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April 21, 2008 at 10:36 am 2 comments

Joost Passin’ Through

Hey, it’s always nice to be right, even when it isn’t for exactly the reason I predicted. Lots of fodder recently, here and there, about how P2P video startup Joost is becoming increasingly irrelevant in the land of VeohHuluTube.

In addition to its P2P strategy not scaling, Joost’s software client ran slow on my machine, and apparently many folks resist having to download and install it. But going to a more mainstream web or browser-based presentation won’t save the company either. It makes them no more compelling than any of the other portals (remember that word?) angling to become video “on ramps”.

In fact, it seems to me that all of these sites–including the much lauded Hulu–are not where the money is. It’s the content, dude. Content owners now spray their wares onto any website it’ll stick to. Site owners have no leverage left, especially as the advertisements become more attached to the content and less to the site. How would ABC or CBS have ever differentiated themselves if you could have found the same shows on any channel you switched to?

Only the sites that provide something unique (social connectivity is the big one that springs to mind) have a chance. Joost seemed to have recognized that–with a built-in capability to chat with other viewers–but its technology and presentation prevented it from catching on. Now it’s probably too late.

March 24, 2008 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment

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