The PR tune being danced by Netflix and the cable companies is so nice, it's almost nauseating. Neither side wants to step on the other's toes, so all the press we see is PR spokespeople assuring America that, yes, there is room for both operations and no, Netflix isn't cutting into cable's customer base. A new survey conducted by the Diffusion Group suggests that might not be entirely accurate; even though cable isn't losing too many customers to Netflix, the industry's definitely losing money thanks to digital streaming.
You can find Vudu on hundreds of devices, such as HDTVs, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, Sony's PlayStation 3 console, and the Boxee Box. In addition to all that, Vudu just announced that its entire catalog of content is now available directly on Vudu.com, accessible via your Web browser in a Flash-based player that will allow you to watch your rented or purchased flicks on your PC or CE device.
You could be forgiven if you've never heard of Amazon's Disc+ program. Basically, when you buy select movies on DVD or Blu-ray, you can get a downloadable copy made immediately available to you. The problem was selection. The feature was only available on about 300 movies when it launched last year. Today Amazon has announced a massive expansion of Disc+ to over 10,000 titles.
The process is automatic when a selected movie is purchased. The digital copy appears in the user's Amazon Video On Demand folder. So it isn't a free and clear copy that you can watch anywhere, but there are over 200 Amazon VOD compatible devices out there. Would this sort of feature make you more likely to buy from Amazon?
The FCC took a stand back in 2003 saying that Selectable Output Control (SoC) was unnecessary, and could harm consumers. But a recent petition from the MPAA has resulted in a partial waiver, allowing SoC to be implemented in certain circumstances. SoC is an anti-counterfeiting technology that would force digital content to be output only to an HDCP compliant HDMI port.
The FCC will allow SoC to be used only on "high value" content. Specifically, any digital content (i.e. video on demand or streaming) that is not available on DVD or Blu-ray at the time, can be protected with SoC for up to 90 days. The rationale for this is a bit confusing. The FCC statement says, "Consumers simply cannot expect to be able to access something that does not yet exist." In short, the FCC doesn't need to fully protect people with older TVs because the expectation of getting this high value content is not assumed.
What this comes down to is that for owners of older TVs without an HDMI, you may be denied access to some special content that is made available before an official DVD release. Those with newer TVs however, may be able to get pre-release access to upcoming movies. How do you feel about this? Is it a reasonable trade-off, or should the FCC have held firm?
Suppliers of video content--movie makers and television production studios--are still struggling to devise an economic model for the Internet age. As time goes by some content providers are become less reticent about embracing the possibilities the Internet offers, in particular video on demand (VOD). In a possibly positive sign a few content providers have taken the step of providing films or TV shows in digital form prior to their DVD release.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Showtime is selling episodes of the hit series Weeds online, while the DVD release remains weeks away. Sony Pictures is also in the act, making available its animated movie Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, available for “owners of some Sony TVs and other devices”, with the DVD release scheduled for January 5.
Jacqui Cheng, at Ars Technica, would like to see more aggressive action, like AMC does with Mad Men, releasing episodes closer to the actual airing date. But, given the trepidation with which content providers appear to hold any Internet involvement, these baby steps toward better access are an encouraging sign.
Amy Banse, president of Comcast Interactive Media, sat down with NewTeeVee Live for some interesting announcements and details about some of their future offerings. In particular, the fairly long interview, circled around Comcast’s “On Demand Online,” which will be released this December.
She talked about this new service in a way that we heard people talking about DMCA rights to purchased media. Banse explained that they wanted to offer subscribers a chance at accessing their content from anywhere while not undermining the subscriber business model.
As a Comcast subscriber, you can register three independent devices on your Comcast account through either Fancast or Comcast.net. Once the devices are registered to your subscription account, you’ll need to download a Move Networks powered player that will play all available content.
The content offerings appear to be very plentiful mostly due to Comcast’s business model of being able to maintain subscribers over the internet. Banse felt that having the On Demand Online service tied to the subscriber account there remained a level continuity for programmers and advertisers. Thus, many networks have opted into the new service.
The interview is long-winded but interesting at points. You can check it out after the jump.
On the surface, things aren't looking very bright for Vudu, the IP-based streaming movie service. The company laid off 15-20 percent of its workforce, including Patrick Cosson, former VP of marketing. And if that weren't enough, dealers have been complaining that Vudu stopped answering voicemails and would only provide tech support through email.
But not to worry, says Mark Donnigan, national channel manager for Vudu. According to Donnigan, most of the allegations are wrong or misleading. Donnigan claims that the layoffs were normal for a startup that has seen such rapid expansion, adding "we just have to figure out how to get back on track in terms of spending." And while dealers are complaining of email-only support, Donnigan insists that isn't the case.
CEPro has three pages worth of allegations and rebuttals, leaving it anyone's guess as to what's really going on behind closed doors. What's yours?
Vudu just announced the hiring of Chris Watts, former Ebay financial exec, as Vudu's new CFO.
"Chris is going to play a critical role in developing financial strategies as we extend our retail presence, deepen relationships with AV resellers across the country, and expand the functionality of VUDU’s e-commerce platform,” said Mark Jung, CEO of VUDU. “Chris brings deep experience in translating business strategy into financial and operating plans and that will be immensely valuable to our company going forward.”
This time last year, most of us would have predicted that Blu-ray and HD-DVD would still be going at it, but even with a victor now declared in the high definition format war, digital downloads and streaming content are ruling the roost, just as Michael Bay prophesized (minus the corporate conspiracy theory). Hoping to become king of the digital hill, Amazon.com is introducing a new online store of TV shows and movies.
What's that you say, Unbox isn't new? That's right, but this isn't Unbox. Amazon Video on Demand departs from the company's first attempt at offering a digital video download service, and this time around, customers will not be required to download special software to the watch programs they buy. And in another departure from Unbox, the new service will extend support beyond just Windows PCs and TiVo set-top boxes.
Find out what else Amazon Video on Demand brings to the table and when it will be available after the jump.