Another quick look at some things going on in online video recently including broadcasters not online embracing online video but mobile video as well yet still struggling to find their exact place in the new age of digital media and trying desperately to maintain their iron grip over their content.
NetFlix Opens Streaming-only Service
We all knew it was coming and you've probably heard by now (it's fairly popular news), NetFlix is now offering a streaming-only subscription package. It costs $7.99 a month and with it comes price increases for the 'hard copy' plans. The one and two DVD plans (number of DVDs you can have simultaneously) will get a $1 bump. Meanwhile the three disc plan gets a $3 bump to $19.99. That could prove to be the downfall of that plan and perhaps push people to streaming. For NetFlix, it makes sense. Think of all the overhead they'll save in postage, processing, storage and replenishment. If I were the big financial cheese there I would want to push people away from actual disc rentals as well. I smell some layoffs coming in the near future there, bummer.
FilmOn Fights for Life
You might remember I wrote about Ivi some time back, a service which takes television signals and re-broadcasts online via some loophole they profess gives them the right to do just that. FilmOn is a similar service. FilmOn is a London-based company that is rapidly expanding into international waters that have put it at odds with major broadcasters already.
FilmOn, and Ivi, offer freely-broadcast, over-the-air signals streamed via their specific applications. FilmOn is focused more on iOS devices while Ivi took to the PC. FilmOn has been around for a couple years and is giving away streams of major U.S. broadcast networks as of a month ago and is now limiting streams to certain areas.
Perhaps if Ivi and FilmOn teamed up a la Marvel comics, they might have enough strength to survive. But only time will tell. It all depends on the arguments, legality and finally, a judge's interpretation of the law, which is the weakest link it seems.
Showtime Shuns NetFlix, Not Worried about Online TV
Showtime CEO Matt Blank was recently quoted as saying they're not interested in NetFlix as it weakens the current distribution model. He's not too worried about people cutting the coax cable in favor of streaming TV but did say they're interested in cutting deals with game console makers (Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo).
It's obviously all about the Benjamins at Showtime because he was also quoted as saying he prefers distributors who are paying more for their content and "selling it in a way that we think is appropriate to the brand and what we hope to do with the brand in the future." I think that's executive speak for 'expensively and archaically.' Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Canadian Cinema Opens Streaming Service
I agree, it's odd. But Cineplex Entertainment, who still believes the best way to see a film is on the big screen, is starting to offers online streaming of new DVD and Blu-ray-based films on release day (disc release day not theater release day). The service will offer video-on-demand and download-to-own options. That's obviously not going to cut into their ticket sales as most films hit on disc 6 months or so after their theatrical release. But it does go to show that just about everyone seems to see some value in online video in one form or another. Source: Reuters
Twelve Broadcast Team Targets Mobile TV
Free, live, mobile TV? That's the promise of Mobile Content Venture who says they will roll out the service in 20 metro areas late 2011. The broadcasters will update existing TV stations in NYC, LA, San Fran, and Chicago along with sixteen other markets to a standard digital TV service which will let them expand to specially equipped mobile devices. They'll be using ATSC (Advanced Television System Committee) which is backed by the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC).
What's the difference between this and services like FLO TV? This will not generate new content for mobiles but take standard broadcast TV and port it over along with advertising. So you can watch the local News no matter where you are so long as you've got the hardware.
MCV includes Fox, NBC, ION, Cox Media, Gannett, Hearst and several others and will reach up to 40% of the population when it launches.
According to CIO.com
The MCV said its members would broadcast news, entertainment and sports programming, including at least two free, ad-supported channels in each market. To receive these shows, consumers will need a device equipped to receive the signals, which will be encrypted, MCV said. The MCV is working with manufacturers to make such devices available in the second half of 2011.
Anyone remember when broadcasters wanted the government to force mobile phone makers to include TV tuners earlier this year? This seems like a far better approach to it all.
That's a Wrap
Even though Showtime seems like they are shunning digital distribution, it's really just NetFlix that they're avoiding as they do have a video download shop at Sho.com (which links to Amazon, iTunes, Blockbuster and CinemaNow). Meanwhile, everyone else appears to be scrambling to cement their place in online video and TV. Broadcasters are obviously trying to maintain the status quo against services like FilmOn and Ivi long enough so that they can get their dinosaur-sized companies moving in the online direction full-bore. Once they have their own online services I bet they'll all start licensing out to every online streaming TV player there is.
The question is, what will the online TV landscape look like next year? NetFlix is coming on strong now, not just film-focused, Hulu wants an IPO but seems to be getting screwed by its content providers at every turn and online streaming of standard TV looks to be an up and coming trend.
What it means for all of us is more places to advertise, more competition and a potentially massive shift in ad revenue to online. Broadcasters are obviously trying to keep as many advertisers on board as they can until they're up to speed online.