Oct 292009
 

col·labo·rate (kə lab′ə rāt′)
1. to work together, esp. in some literary, artistic, or scientific undertaking

Almost 13 years ago I recall evangelising to various groups of top BBC exec producers, writers & creatives that the internet is an important new medium. “Lets be clear” I would say “audiences will have unlimited choice not only to watch what they want, when they want but to create content themselves for each other. You will need to change your relationship with them and find ‘time’ for this new relationship, to make any kind of impact in their lives in the future”. Time is the operative word. Is there time to win audiences back? Do you have time to spend collaborating with them and creating meaningful vs flash-in the-pan viral, transmedia content? Is there time before you become mostly irrelevant? I am still saying the same things to today’s generation of producers.

Traditional providers – it’s very simple. You no longer control distribution or dictate what gets consumed. Apart from a few mass produced, live, appointment to view episodics, reality shows & hyped box office the rest is in competition with people-produced, personally relevant media & conversation.

TransocialmediaStoryMarketingStorm

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Nov 232005
 

Personalization, on-the-move. Reported by a few blogs and spotted by New Scientist it looks like the race has begun for location aware profiling – TiVo have put in a patent for “a mobile personalization system“. The patent synopsis

A multimedia mobile personalization system provides a remote control that detects a user’s electronic tag, e.g. an RFID tag. The remote control notifies a multimedia device of the user’s identity. The multimedia devices tailors it operations to the user’s preferences stored locally. Multimedia content such as broadcast or recorded television programs, music play lists, and the like could be sorted, displayed, or restricted, depending on the user identifier.

This is long overdue especially as TV-Anytime which I co-led (and who had TiVo in its ranks for a few years) talked about the importance of mobile profiles in its phase two work – why expect a hundred systems to learn your likes and dislikes when you could do it once and have compatibility. Indeed I wrote several articles and papers on it over the last 5 years, one here. But as in other very recent TiVo developments its TiVoToGo software (report by StarTribune) aimed at video iPod and PSP has got the backs up of the TV industry. Variety in it’s article “Peeved over TiVo” reports that TiVo who already has upset the TV industry for many years with their ad skipping capability have now upset them again because they are allowing viewers to easily capture TV programmes and get them mobile! Especially after the $1.99 per programme business model which looked set to start TV down a new road…

The pioneer of the digital video recording bizbiz called the move an “enhancement” of its TiVoToGo service, which allows users to transfer recorded shows to a PC. The new software, which will be released early next year, allows users to transfer these files to a portable player.
“We’re making it easy for consumers to enjoy the TV shows they want to watch right from their iPod or PSP,” said TiVo CEO and former NBC exec Tom Rogers. (snip)
The immediate impact of the service, which will be offered soon after the new year, would be to undercut ABC’s video-on-demand offering, through which users can buy episodes of “Lost” and other shows for $1.99 each to view on PCs or video iPods.
NBC and CBS recently began offering skeins on-demand for 99¢ through DirecTV and Comcast, respectively.

The boat is not yet tipped over but TiVo, Google and others are severly rocking it at the moment. Another article trying to capture the storms hitting the ‘video/tv’ industry at the moment is also captured in business week’s report End of TV article. Just like good journalism that thrives on good gossip generated by its TV stars on the way and then can’t wait to trash them to generate more readership, so TV seems to be the star at the moment. Everyone wants to toll it’s final bell, or at least be the first to suggest TV is over. I think just those who said film and radio was going to die in the late 40s, or how in early 2000’s VOD will kill off DVD film there may be some egg on faces. I for one suggest TV will simply evolve, become video delivered in a multitude of ways. TV will not die, simply the word we currently use for video delivered in a most inefficient way – schedule broadcast.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005

Nov 142005
 

Man and Mesquite Dunes ©Gary Hayes 2005It is starting to feel a little like one of those JFK “Everyone remembers what they were doing when…” moments. Suddenly TV is spreading across the cross-media universe like wild-fire. With TV companies moving their prized possessions onto broadband, mobile and various PVRs the Washington Post in its article “A Breakthrough Few Months for Portable TV” starts the retrospective – or alternatively a term I think coined by a BBC colleague a few years ago ‘prestalgia’.

The autumn of 2005 will doubtless be remembered as the time when all assumptions about the rules of television were thrown into the air and scattered, with no certainty about what happens when they land.
The most shocking event clearly was Apple’s deal with The Walt Disney Co. in October to make reruns of “Lost” and other programs available for downloading to iPods for $1.99. In less than three weeks, Apple said a million videos were sold.

It continues by pointing out that TV broadband sites are also starting to sprout up everywhere

That remains unanswered, but it hasn’t stopped an explosion of Internet channels or programming offerings this fall _ seemingly a new announcement every day.
Several of the MTV Networks have launched affiliated broadband sites. 50 Cent made a concert exclusively available on MTV Overdrive, VH1 started the VSpot stream, kids can watch cartoons on TurboNick and Comedy Central’s Motherload began operating Nov. 1.
NBC began offering a same-night replay of “Nightly News” online, the first network news broadcast to take that step. The Food Network starts a Web-only series with chef Dave Lieberman next week. HGTV debuted “My First Place,” a series about young people moving into their first homes, on the Web before TV. PBS made NerdTV, a series about high tech pioneers, available exclusively on the Internet.

As is usual when things get a little too ‘raucous’ there is always one party pooper and this one is Broadcasting and Cables article subtitled “Hold on—maybe the Internet giants won’t take over television”

Indeed, while the rush to air TV programs online has promotional value, it’s merely an elaborate experiment for now: Will people watch shows on their computer? Every veteran TV executive knows that any large-scale migration of a network’s best content would upset the delicate supply chain of station groups, syndicators and advertisers.
“I don’t think we’re in favor of any tool that decides to record our content, no matter what functionality,” says Albert Cheng, executive VP of digital media at Disney/ABC. “There needs to be acknowledgement of copyright laws.”
Also, networks worry about handing bullets to the enemy. They risk building Yahoo!, Google or Apple’s iTunes into online gatekeepers—the same sort they face in cable and DBS companies—and diluting networks’ leverage.

The New York Times though gets the party going again and also noted the cosmological (OK just TV spreading it’s wings) event. Its article Internet Service to Put Classic TV on Home Computer on Warner Brothers latest venture shows that the tidal wave may have begun already, this writer was kind of expecting a trickle of activity off the back of the Apple, NBC and CBS announcements reported in previous posts.

Warner Brothers is preparing a major new Internet service that will let fans watch full episodes from more than 100 old television series. The service, called In2TV, will be free, supported by advertising, and will start early next year. More than 4,800 episodes will be made available online in the first year. (snip)
Full-length TV shows on the In2TV service responds to that demand, particularly as more people hook their computers up to their television sets.

And like the BBC’s new IMP initiatives Warner Bros. Are reducing distribution costs by implementing existing peer-to-peer technologies

There is a catch. To use the technology, viewers will have to agree to participate in a special file-sharing network. This approach helps AOL reduce the cost of distributing-high quality video files by passing portions of the video files from one user’s computer to another. AOL says that since it will control the network, it can protect users from the sorts of viruses and spyware that infect other peer-to-peer systems.

To add even more excitement to the mix it looks like Interactive TV is sneaking in through this particular back door in the states. They have waited in the wings long enough behind the centre stage antics of the UK’s iTV industry so…

Other programs will be accompanied by interactive features that can be displayed side by side with the video, like trivia quizzes and video games related to the shows. One feature, to accompany “Welcome Back, Kotter,” will allow users to upload a picture of themselves (or a friend) and superimpose 1970’s hair styles and fashion, and send the pictures by e-mail to friends or use as icons on AOL’s instant-message system.

So remember what you were doing at the end of 2005 because the big changes are happening now. You will be able to reminisce when you are old and grey, sitting in your rocking chair as you tell your grandkids (or someone else’s grandkids) about the days when you used to have to watch your favourite TV programmes at certain times of the day – that you were there when the big switch over to broadband TV occurred (or video rather as TV will become a term less used in a few decades of course). These are strange, or rather expected times indeed.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005

Nov 082005
 

Dunes Death Valley ©Gary Hayes 2005Who would have thought it? After many years of rampant piracy of TV programmes and films the networks and content holders are starting to fight back. Who would have imagined such a scenario? So it comes as no surprise that CBS and NBC are moving to sell their prime time shows on demand for as little as 99c. Before we look at their models I often think when I see these reports, of an expression a friend in Santa Barbara, Patrick Gregston, used at a Super Distribution conference I produced earlier in the year

“the mountain top is gonna shrink and the foothills are gonna explode but we are pretty sure that those people that are on the mountain top are gonna buy all the best foothills too”

The sort of quote you come out with when you live in glorious Santa Barbara but extremely relevant as the mighty NBC starts to offer Battlestar Galactica (amongst others) for 99c for a week after it airs. As the business wire report points out today:

The way people are consuming content is changing,” said David Zaslav, President, NBC Universal Cable. “Through this agreement with DIRECTV, consumers will be able to watch top NBC content on demand for just $0.99, when they want, without commercials. It’s a huge sea change. This deal is the first of its kind and we value DIRECTV’s partnership in rolling it out.

So the new 100 hour NDS based Personal Video Recorder about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting West Coast USA public through DirecTV will act as a way to distribute these programmes – kind of thinking why wouldn’t they just ask the PVR to capture them on transmission – probably missing something here 😉 Given the use of Sky+ box office in the UK and IQ in Australia the jury is out on how sucessful a ‘order for later model’ will work, but selling the crown jewels this way may prove a winner.

The other giant of US broadcasting entering the fray is CBS who have teamed up with Comcast Cable to offer in January the same 99c model of watch major prime time programmes like CSI and Survivor when they want. The article from PR Newswire quotes:

“Video on demand has fundamentally changed the way people watch TV, and now for the first time the most popular prime-time CBS programming will be available to our customers,” said Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation. “CBS has taken a giant step forward in experimenting with prime-time video on demand. Comcast’s ON DEMAND service has been tremendously successful, with more than one billion program views so far this year.”

OK Pay-Per-Play Video-on-demand is as old as the ‘foot’ hills but this shift of ‘prime time’ on-demand starts to change the whole meaning of prime time. If viewers around the US can effectively get the most popular shows at any time and most importantly without adverts ;

within hours after they air, commercial free, for just 99 cents.

are they not destroying their own business model? If prime time becomes anytime the advertisers will pay less, surely? Perhaps this is the real shift. As enough consumers pay for iPod Video, PVR delivered content, cable on-demand content the advertisers may be completely cut-out of the equation over time. If prime content can be pre-financed by major distributors and sold direct to the viewer at which point do advertisers enter the distribution chain? No thinking about it advertisers will simply buy some of those foothills as well – what else would happen. Certainly the BBC started this ball rolling a couple of years ago with bitorrent distributed programming (I remember being at a momentous internal BBC presentation by Lawrence Lessig in 2003 when the penny dropped for quite a few BBC execs, hence the current BBC-on-demand, creative commons impetus. But back to the issue of advertising funded popular programming vs ppv models it comes down to two:
1 Cheaper on-demand content is full of ads
2 You pay more for less (sneaky on-screen graphics or product placement) or no ads

Whether or not on PVRs and on-demand cable you can skip them then comes down to a simple fact – if the ads are interesting to you, like an interesting programme you watch them – but all of this is another story for another long series of posts. Keep tuned in.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005

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