Intel is ready to crack internet TV

The Verge has a great piece on the potential for Intel to succeed in their latest digital home initiative…

The fact that Intel doesn’t by and large work in media could be a handicap, but if you stop to reconsider, it potentially gives Intel a huge advantage. Think about it: how was Google ever going to make a deal with Viacom when Viacom was suing Google? How were companies like Google or Yahoo built on selling advertising ever going to meaningfully share data and revenue with other companies built on advertising like TV networks? How were Sony or Samsung ever going to create a smart TV platform large enough to compete with cable when their businesses depended on selling giant multithousand-dollar screens that were only updated every few years? How would Apple, or Microsoft, or Amazon, or Netflix create new deals for live TV with networks when they already had huge businesses in selling digital video in completely different formats? Intel has no conflicts of interest with television; it has no strategy taxes. All it has are years of R&D into hardware for the connected home, a solid history of developing hardware standards and prototypes, and many, many chips built for graphics-intensive, generally stationary devices that badly need somewhere to go.

This has long been an area of interest for me and I hope they succeed here because the industry needs a good kick in the ass.

Standardizing the Second Screen Experience


I love hearing that there’s a new industry standard being sorted by YouTube and Netflix to promote a more open second screen experience. Right now it’s a bit of a mess and you either go all in with Apple (AppleTV + Airplay + iOS) which only works in certain instances – though absolutely works, or you’ve got a set of considerably more limited options. The DIAL Protocol could really offer a very new opportunity for enhanced viewing and app utilization in the living room which is very exciting.

But there are other areas where DIAL actually goes beyond AirPlay’s capabilities. First, the obvious: AirPlay can’t launch any apps on your Apple TV. DIAL will also be able to detect whether an app is installed, and redirect a user to a smart TV’s app store in case it’s missing. Also cool: DIAL will be able to launch web apps on your TV, if the device supports it, which should add a whole lot of new functionality to connected devices.via GigaOm.

Even more interesting is that it’s apparently already out in market, though quietly and waiting to be awakened … I’m surprised there wasn’t more (or any) noise at CES this year … Sony, Samsung, GoogleTV, YouTube and Netflix are a strong start.

Aereo CEO on Bundles and Fees


More power to Aereo … I’ve played with a demo account and it works quite well. Tempting even.

Ad Age: So broadcasters shouldn’t have dual revenue streams, like cable channels?

Mr. Kanojia: I don’t know their business at all. All I know is the current paradigm is this: They have [broadcast] spectrum. They are required to program in the public interest and to offer it widely for free. You are allowed to have an antenna. There is no prohibition on where you have it; it can be on your roof, your window or 50 feet away; in my computer or in the cloud. Tell me what the dispute is? Because you didn’t see it coming? That is really what it is.

Ad Age: But since fees are so important to broadcast now, why shouldn’t they fight it?

Mr. Kanojia: Technology catches up. When the VCR came out there was the same hyperbole: It’s going to kill television. They made billions. It spawned a whole industry of home video. These technologies [Aereo] are single-cast, they know where you are. I think they are just ignoring that technologies like these are immensely helpful in attracting younger audiences and are helpful in creating new ad models.

via Advertising Age

Roku and TWC


Time Warner Cable is going to let you use a Roku to access your cable subscription. While this isn’t fully decoupled service it’s still pretty awesome for Roku owners. Being able to do everything through a single box – that’s not your crappy cable box – would be excellent.

“The availability of a service like TWC TV on an open platform represents significant milestones for both Time Warner Cable and Roku as well as for the industry overall,” said Anthony Wood, Roku’s founder and CEO. Unfortunately, there are some restrictions to just how “open” that experience is. Like the TWC TV apps for iOS, Android, and the desktop, compatible Roku hardware will need to be running on a subscriber’s home network to access live TV; you won’t be able to stream your favorite channels remotely. And while over 300 stations will be available, you’ll obviously be limited according to whatever’s included in your cable package. via The Verge

HBO’s new deal, means more of the same

Speaking of TV … In what’s being seen as a very strategic maneuver, HBO has re-upped it’s contract with Universal to ensure it maintains exclusive access to the content – through 2022!

So what does this likely mean for us, the consumer? I’d say more of the same. No way to access HBO beyond extending your MSO relationship. Our household isn’t quite ready to cut the cord, though we certainly find plenty “over the top.”

I suppose things would be radically different if we didn’t have to authenticate first on things like the XBox where Cablevision has yet to cut a deal. We can connect the ESPN application which is quite solid, but there’s no way to add in additional content really beyond the usual sources like Netflix etc and that’s not replacing even the moderately poor TV the family enjoys. Without being able to watch Bravo, I’m never convincing the wife there are alternatives.

Samsung’s Likely Big Year

MG Siegler has solid POV on the potential for Samsung this year. I don’t normally quote this much, but for context …

Not only is it bigger than Apple from a revenue standpoint, it’s almost twice as large as the three other “horsemen” combined ($190 billion versus what should be about $100 billion for Amazon, Facebook, and Google in 2012). And unlike Amazon and Facebook which make little or no profit, Samsung is hugely profitable. $12 billion in profit for 2011 should move closer to $20 billion in 2012. That’s not a ton compared to Apple ($55 billion in profit in 2012), but it should be roughly twice as much profit as Google pulls in for the year.

But let’s forget the money and go back to Android. Samsung is so important and deserves a place with the other horsemen because it is the most important piece of the Android ecosystem beyond Google. And it seems that the company is at least exploring the possibility of taking a step back from that ecosystem, or hedging its bet. That could be the story of 2013.

Imagine Samsung, with 40 to 50 percent of the Android market, breaking away to focus on Tizen. Or perhaps more realistically, imagine Samsung forking Android for its own purposes while exploring the Tizen possibilities. Not only can the company afford to do it, there may be several incentives to do so.

Amazon is closing in on its own phone running a forked version of Android in a similar manner to its Kindle Fire tablets. The first iterations of that tablet weren’t great, but they’re getting better. And because it now has its own forked Android app store, Amazon is going to be in control of the entire ecosystem. Samsung has no such control if it remains a loyal Android partner.

Maybe it’s okay with that, but Samsung must be looking at how profitable Apple is as a result of its total control. Shitty mobile skins only give the illusion of control, Samsung needs to control the full stack. And given its position of power, the company has the leverage to do that if it chooses to.

And it’s not just an offensive imperative, it’s a defensive one too. Google continues to say the right things publicly about maintaining distance from its Motorola unit with regard to Android. Of course, it says this with the Google X phone project well underway. A true Google phone.

Perhaps it’s a project meant less to scare Samsung and more to fight back against Google’s true bane: its carrier partners. Or maybe it’s Google hedging against Samsung’s position of power. It doesn’t matter. The Google/Samsung relationship is starting to show signs of strain, and they’re only going to get more pronounced — exhibit A.

Beyond mobile devices, the hot topic for 2013 is the future of television. Most of this is focused around Apple with a little bit reserved for Google’s TV projects. But it’s once again Samsung that is already the leader in the space. Sure, it’s the old school (shitty margin) television space, but why doesn’t anyone think that Samsung can translate its success in smartphones here as well? It simply hasn’t really tried yet.

Perhaps that’s another part of the Tizen equation. Or maybe a forked Android will find its way here as well. But Samsung has a huge head start on Apple, Google and everyone else.  via TechCrunch.

Bloomberg’s report on Samsung’s desire to launch Tizen-based handsets to push away from Android is definitely interesting.  The initial product is apparently going to NTT Docomo in Japan which means we’ll have to wait here in the US.  Should Samsung decide to release a Tizen varient of the Galaxy IV later this year, most (Samsung) consumers would probably consider it the next generation Galaxy rather than focus on the operating system.  If Samsung can successfully migrate their existing apps and deliver against some of the core Google bits they are going to have a winning hand.  This is far from simple or a sure thing …

The future of TV is a big deal. While everyone is waiting for Apple to reveal their solution, Samsung already has massive scale, huge profits to accomodate risk (like Apple) and an existing ecosystem of devices along with a brewing selection of branded apps.  Now, it’s been pointed out more than a few times, that the current Smart TV market is a complicated mess and it’s also likely to be massively expensive to get the ala carte services we all want.

This week CES will reveal some likely candidates … let’s hope they aren’t just based on speeds and feeds … we need some connected systems here to make it all work and work well.

McBain: the Movie

According to Metafilter, someone realized that the Simpons were hiding the McBain movie in parts throughout the series.  That same someone then edited it all together into a single movie.

None more awesome …

Cord Cutting … not happening any time too soon

Gizmodo has an excellent piece covering the challenges of cord cutting for mainstream consumers based on a research project conducted by Hill Holiday over the holidays.

The biggest takeaway for me is just how much we techies take for granted about how TV works.  Sure there’s a bunch of crap on most of the time, but the relative mindless companionship TV offers offsets this quite nicely.  I don’t mean that in a negative way either.  People are accustomed to tuning in to tune out.

An Experiment In Cord Cutting from Hill Holliday on Vimeo.

Online TV Viewers Tolerate More Ads (and get paid)

The only thingI want to know is how much the panel gets paid to endure 16 MINUTES of ads during a 30 Minute show. Who are these people? I’m sure the groups were considered a great success …

Viewers of 30-minute TBS sitcoms like “Meet the Browns” watched, on average, 40 percent of the episode if there was one minute of ads and 37 percent of the episode if there were 16 minutes of ads. Viewers of hourlong TNT shows like “Memphis Beat” watched 59 percent of the episode if there were one minute 15 seconds of ads, and 49 percent of the episode if there was 20 minutes of ads.

via Online TV Show Viewers Tolerate More Ads, Turner Says –

Why Google TV?

I get it. I’ve been living the converged life for years. GoogleTV looks like a simpler version of boxee and seems to have a less than considered UI compared to AppleTV. It has search of course, but how are you typing that in? What about web addresses? Hunt and peck typing is a giant pain from 10 feet away.

Our house is completely wired. We have a media server for video – accessible from any screen. We have multiple HD DVR boxes which are centrally located and can be selected from any of our universal remotes. An AppleTV is also centrally located and is used for streaming music and the occasional movie rental. On rare occasions I flip over to boxee to steam a TED video but that’s rare.

My wife and kids use the media server and the DVR. If we rent a movie I usually take care of it and there has been limited if any interest in online content. There’s no perspective that anything is missing and no real interest in finding more. We are satisfied. I doubt we are the only household like this …

For supplementary online content the primary option is the iPad. It’s always around and available. GoogleTV like quite a few other solutions is solving a problem people don’t have. I’m sure we will all benefit from more targeted TV ads if that sales process works and is cost effective, but the reach is going to be quite limited for a while … Probably a long while too. Apps and widgets for TV are all still trying to be sold… people are not buying new TVs, adding set top boxes or lining up to get them.

Am I missing some secret sauce here?

Cablevision – ABC = No Oscars and Millions of Pissed Consumers

We’ve officially lost ABC on Cablevision today.  Thanks Disney.  Aside from the Oscar blackout tonight, which upsets my wife more than anything, we’ll lose access to Lost as well the only other show we care about on ABC.

The question I have for ABC is this … If it’s really about the money, how are you able to justify the efficacy of the ads sold for the Oscars with such a substantial portion of the NY Metro removed?  Charging for what’s available for free over the air (if we all hadn’t switched to digital) is ridiculous and you should be ashamed.

Cablevision drops Scripps Networks

We just noticed that both Food Network and HGTV were showing blanks on the cable guide and it seems just like TWC and Fox, that Cablevision and Scripps are not able to reach an agreement on the value of the station. My wife loves HGTV and we do also watch a bit of Food Network (Diners, Drive throughs and Dives anyone?). Even though we don’t spend hours a day watching TV, it’s really annoying to see channels just vaporize. Scripps has set up pages for both Food and HGTV to provide info and make sure you can take the appropriate action to try and get the stations back.

Cablevision usually does the right thing and provides excellent service (in general). It would be good to see things sorted out …

UPDATE This is now resolved and the channels are back!

IO Shortcuts

Cablevision just launched a cool new interactive layer to their digital cable service … It’s not exactly FiOS widgets, but still cool to see some innovation here.


I have not had a chance to try this yet, but look forward to seeing how it works.

This is what’s happening now …

This is what’s happening now …

Sprint’s launched a new campaign and is getting some good buzz on twitter because it mentions twitter.  I think the ad is a serious miss. But first why not watch it for yourself…

online casino

Pretty cool animation style, potentially interesting factoids – but for whom?  Most of what happens though is more visually interesting to the average person than actually meaningful or more importantly informative.

TV advertising is generally considered highly efficient because of it’s potential reach, but it’s also incredibly wasteful because there’s no real way to focus the message effectively at that scale. In the case of this piece, I’m wondering how many people even understand what they are seeing. The premise here is gobs of activity on our amazingly capable network.  If you get that and based on the frequency it’s running you’ll get a few chances to pick up on it, you might also realize Sprint is saying they apparently are able to and more importantly are actively scanning customer content.

The best part though is the end when they claim to be America’s most dependable 3G network bringing you the first wireless (in case you were expecting there to be a wired) 4G network.  This is when the magic happens … all the content from the screen – and there’s a lot of it – zooms through the PalmPre screen which is NOT called out by name or that it is coming soon.  The transition from 4G to PalmPre suggests the Pre is going to be a 4G device which is simply false.  I’m a geek.  I get it.  Most people will not and will instead be left (if they get any of this commerical) that there’s a new 4G cool thing coming.  Good luck buying that phone!

Let’s recap –

  • expensive to produce, expensive to run
  • limited audience understanding
  • negative brand connotations
  • false associations with an upcoming major product


World’s Fastest Broadband – And Not Here of Course

We can’t possibly get 100Mbps at home soon enough! Video seems like the obvious service in what we use today, but just imagine if everyone had such a fast connection! There’s sure to be new applications …

Cable executives have given several reasons for why many cable systems in the United States are going very slowly in upgrading to Docsis 3. There’s little competition in areas not served by Verizon’s FiOS system, which soon will offer 50 Mbps service. And some argue there isn’t that much demand for super-high speed.

Mr. Fries added another: Fear. Other cable operators, he said, are concerned that not only will prices fall, but that the super-fast service will encourage customers to watch video on the Web and drop their cable service.

The industry is worried that by offering 100 Mbps, they are opening Pandora’s box, he said. Everyone will be able to get video on the Internet, and then competition will bring the price for the broadband down from $80 to $60 to $40.

via World’s Fastest Broadband at $20 per Home – Bits Blog –

When Cablevision rolls out 50Mbps later this year, I will be very tempted though the cost will be double what I currently pay for 30Mbps. Seems like a steep upgrade tax to speed up the recoup on investment.

The entertainment business just doesn’t get it

Let’s face it. It’s easy to acquire video content these days regardless of whether you subscribe to a particular tier from your cable company or even whether you live in the country. Regardless of this the content companies still do not offer a legit path to offer content direct to consumer on a broad enough scale and so piracy continues. The same basic practices occur across media whether it’s movies, music or even books. For some reason the media business still feels the need to limit who gets to see, hear or read something rather than simply enable access to content given that it’s all bits and has been for a very long time.

It’s this type of mentality that has clearly driven Hulu’s content partners to demand that Hulu prevent Boxee from distributing shows across the Boxee platform.  This is an ignornat decision based on old media thinking end of story.  When you consider that Boxee offers Hulu as is – with commercials as they were originally sold, it’s clear this is simply based on believing that the content can be controlled through the old methods.

Boxee is a free software product available to download and install on your (Mac, Windows or Linux) PC or AppleTV and has yet to charge anything more than your time to install it.  Content passes directly to you on the platform and screen of your choice and though instead of using your web browser to surf across a bunch of web sites, you get a clean 10′ UI which keeps things really simple.  Boxee also adds a social layer which lets you share what you’ve viewed or heard and even make recommendations directly to your friends.

Given that network television content remains “free” and culturally we still tend to gather among friends online or at work and socialize about the shows we watch, it’s ludicrous for the media companies to want to stop something that actually enables shared enjoyment of the very content they are trying to promote.  Hulu and Boxee together are just another outlet / channel / option for people to consume the content they want.  An important detail which I’m sure will be lost on the TV creation and distribution world is that while Hulu is working to make it from niche to mass, Boxee is still early in the technology adopter territory which makes it ripe for influential discussion and most importantly spreading the word – whether good or bad.  Ironically, when tech savvy consumers get burned or blocked on one route there always seems to be another which was there all along … still free, without commerical interruption and easily viewable on any platform.

Voom’s going boom

As a cablevision subscriber I’ve been enjoying the additional HD channels provided by Voom. MojoHD was a particular favorite and it recently (and quietly) shut down. When I visited the network’s site I found this:


Via NewTeeVee, I see Voom is going down for the count … though as a concession it seems Cablevision will be replacing the stations and retaining the number of HD channels offered which is excellent news.

A Rainbow spokesperson confirmed that Voom’s domestic operation was being closed, but declined to comment further, or discuss how many employees will lose their jobs. But those staffers reportedly won’t have to leave for 60 days.

Cablevision will replace the 15 Voom networks with other HD channels, with that transition most likely coming in late January.

“We will replace these channels with other quality HD programming and there will be no reduction in the number of high-definition channels available to our iO TV customers,” a Cablevision spokesman said. “We currently offer 68 HD channels without any additional equipment or programming fees, unlike our competitors, and expect our HD lineup to continue to expand in the coming months.” [MultiChannel News]

Verizon offers FiOS TV in NYC… but where?

Verizon is making some noise today with the apparent release of FiOS TV, though when I checked their site for two different addresses (Grammery / Union Square and Hell’s Kitchen) I only see coming soon. So, who can actually get this?

The packages and services they will be carrying actually look great with 100HD channels and a networked DVR … I just don’t believe it’s actually available yet.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,