All this in the last week only – my head hurts trying to track it all! In case you haven’t noticed TV and video being made easily available for commercial download over the internet is continuing unabated. Since its early beginnings in the last quarter of last year things are really starting to accelerate, on a daily basis and trying to keep up with the strategies and technologies at play is not easy. To bring you (and me, because in doing this blog it helps me focus on key issues like this) up to speed here is a collection of movements over the past week only!

The mightly online giant Google is now offering paid for downloads – although the opening selection is getting some criticism from Tech Dirt but they are planning offerings from CBS and NBA in the future (Fairfax). Of course a link to the store itself Google Video Store

Akimbo (the grandfather of IPTV – already) is now offering full feature downloads to its set-tops via MovieLink (linked to 6 of the major studios). Mercury News

In a similar area (IPTV) AOL teamed up with Brightcove a few weeks ago to allow AOL to enter into the broadband TV market. This is old news (early Dec) but the partnership also with IAC/InterActiveCorp is scheduled for launch sometime in the next few months allowing more independent video makers into the internet TV marketplace – but today AOL announced that they are buying Truveo, a specialised video search company. Australian IT reports on this. Covering the Brightcove initiative IMedia reports gives insight into the hardware strategy and an interview with a iTV veteran friend Tracy Swedlow from iTVT with the new CEO of Brightcove Jeremy Allaire with some good news for broadcasters…

[itvt]: While this is something that operators and carriers will have to adjust to, it will arguably be good news for broadcasters…
Allaire: Absolutely. Our worldview is that content rights holders are king in this new arena. They’re in a better position then they’ve ever been in because of the multiplicity of emerging platforms. It gives them so much leverage to be in control–and a core premise of our business is that content owners are now in control of their distribution in a way that they never have been. So we characterize what we’re doing not as a technology business. We’re not selling technology to people. We offer a distribution platform, but it’s one where the content owners are in total control.

Sky in the UK are jumping on the bandwagon and launching a broadband download service which also links to Microsofts Media Center – Sky broadband

Apple iTunes now updated off the back of Mr. Jobs keynote yesterday, offering even more content, Saturday Night Live clips, as well as more from SciFi channel, Disney and USA network. There is also rumours that BBC will be offering up to 40 daily news clips via ABC’s existing deal with Apple – link to NY Times

As mentioned in my previous post “Yahoo! The Program Maker” the other online giant are beginning creation of original TV shows designed specifically for broadband – link to SF Chronicle. I wonder if Google will also start to create/commission original content over the coming months! But as Herald Tribune reports the two battling it out head to head will mean viewers turning away from TV as they compete each service increment at a time. Yahoo Go is one example of a software innovation that allows personal and commercial content to be streamed from PC to TV, with a killer element for advertisers (ratings and measurement) – where are you broadcast TV? PVR’s will be a half way house too late (see final part of this post).

This software will allow viewers to use a TV set, not merely a computer screen, to see any of Yahoo’s offerings of video content – from music videos to original news reports – and the more than one million video clips in its video search service. It will offer a program guide, similar to those offered on digital cable services, but Yahoo’s version will include viewers’ ratings of shows.

The Yahoo! Go service is interesting from a personalize media blog perspective of course because now all your content (personal and otherwise) is made available across multiple platforms (pc, tv, mobile), cross-media. See how it works. I think Yahoo! are going the personal route while others fight the commercial domain out between them.

Google has started its mobile foray early in the year by creating deals with Motorola by having dedicated Google buttons – link to Yahoo! News. This is interesting of course when by all predictions mobile TV and video markets will grow to a nearly $1 bill industry over the next 3 years – link to TV Week.

One can see why a dedicated button to the worlds best mobile video search engine makes so much sense even at this early stage. Also part of Googles strategy is too partner with the most pervasive video codec, DivX, a few days ago. Yahoo! News (again – they must be watching closely).

To close, back to the half-way-house of personal video recorders in all of this. TiVo, ReplayTV and NDS’s version (Sky+ in the UK, IQ in Oz and DVR+ in the US) are perhaps realising unless they add true ‘wild’ (not walled garden) broadband capability to their DVR’s then the games over. As Yahoo! reports ‘The Incredible Shrinking TiVo” – allowing your PVR to capture broadcast and all of the suppliers above would certainly make an attractive proposition but…cat-out-of-bag methinks.

I will leave the final word to Jeremy Allaire again in the ITVT interview on the long term benefits of this democratised distribution we are all privileged to be at the dawning of:

Allaire: It’s hard to answer questions with such a long time horizon; but at the same time we can look back at the past 10 years and see how dramatic the impact of the Internet has been on world society. My own inspiration and effort around the Internet started in the very early 1990’s, built around the idea that this new network could combine media and communications in a fundamentally open way, and transform the fabric of society and the economy. We’re well on our way there, for sure. What’s exciting about the next 10 years is that a very deep foundation has been laid–these powerful media and communications tools are now part of the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people, and growing by leaps and bounds. To me, the most exciting thing to watch–and what I expect we’ll experience on a grand scale in the coming 10 to 20 years–is the true merging of global cultures, and the breaking down of international barriers that have long existed. Our systems of law and governance, which are already challenged by globalization, will come under deeper pressure. But I suspect the incredible and positive forces of open communications will ultimately yield a better world.

Open communication (OK not the last word then) – and open collaborative sharing of creative, personalized content, globally will make the world a better place – rather than the USA saturating the world with lowest common denominator, but excellently produced, TV programmes. Bring on the flames.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006

UPDATE: Yahoo! about to resurrect TV show the ‘Runner’ as an online-only TV show as reported by MediaPost