Blockbuster Takes Its PPV Streaming Movies To TiVo

from the lessons-learned dept

Blockbuster announced back in November that it would begin offering pay-per-view movie downloads, but its plan had a couple of major pitfalls: it required consumers to buy a proprietary box to be able to buy the downloads, and it didn't offer a very wide selection. It's cracked one of those, sort of, by making its OnDemand service available to TiVo users, who will now be able to access it alongside rival services from Netflix and CinemaNow. It's heartening to see that Blockbuster has realized the standalone box strategy isn't viable, even if others haven't figured it out. The lesson is pretty clear: if you're going to come out with a streaming service, you're going to fail if you force users to buy a proprietary box, and your only chance to succeed is by making it available on as many platforms as possible. That's not a guarantee, mind you, as there are still plenty of ways to screw things up, or to have things screwed up for you by movie studios.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 5:08am

    What's really awesome is that Tivo didn't enter into an exclusive relationship with either Blockbuster or Netflix and is having both services available. Competition is a good thing.

     

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  2.  
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    Dave (profile), Mar 26th, 2009 @ 5:33am

    Two dying brands.

    Aren't people dumping their TiVos in droves in favor of cable, satellite and fiber-TV DVRs right now? This looks like two dying brands teaming up to try and stave off irrelevance. I wish 'em luck, but I have my doubts that they'll get very far.

     

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  3.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 6:04am

    The real solution is a PC attached to your TV to do this sort of thing, but most people are not there. Good 1080i / 1080P video cards are still thin on the ground and a little too expensive, and the operating systems generally aren't up to the job. It won't be long however before a PC as a source for programming material is common, maybe 2 years.

    Teaming up with TiVO as individual cable and sat companies work to bring their own PVR products to market seems like a waste of time, perhaps a stopgap measure. Heck BellTV added a PVR option to my non-pvr receiver, just plug in an external usb drive and away you go. What pay hundreds for a TiVO device when they let me get it for the price of a USB drive?

     

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  4.  
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    It's too easy, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 6:11am

    rootkit

    Coming soon to your media center.

     

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  5.  
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    Ima Fish, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 6:14am

    Re: Two dying brands.

    From what I remember, Tivo holds some sort of patent on the DVR and is collecting licensing fees from everyone else. So basically, Tivo is surviving solely on a government granted monopoly. Sort of like corporate welfare.

     

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  6.  
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    Ima Fish, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 6:20am

    Re:

    "Good 1080i / 1080P video cards are still thin on the ground and a little too expensive"

    I agree with everything you wrote, except for the comment about video cards. It's quite common for a video card to do 1920x1080. In fact, I think you'd be hard press to find a card that could not do that resolution.

    There are no such cards sold at Newegg. And the smallest max resolution cards available at Newegg are 2048x1536.

     

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  7.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 7:11am

    Re: Re:

    They do the resolution, but they don't do the output. Outputting for your computer screen and outputting for movie playback on your big screen is slightly different.

    There are plenty of high resolution cards, but few of them can handle true 1080i or 1080p output, making them unsuitable to even replace your dvd / bluray player at this point. Most video cards up until maybe a year ago wouldn't have a real HD out, rather doing it with an s-video style output (not the same quality for the most part).

    Resolution isn't the issue - being able to take 1080P source material and play it back at 1080P without stretching, shrinking, or re-encoding is key.

     

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  8.  
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    hegemon13, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 7:18am

    Re:

    Why is that the real solution? Why would I want an over-powered, power-sucking, noisy PC next to my PC when I can have a silent, dedicated video player that will play back the content flawlessly using very little power? I have had a multimedia PC, and it was a pain in the ass because it came with all the pitfalls of an OS designed for mouse and keyboard. If anything went wrong with the video settings, I had to haul up a monitor to fix it. I know there are better front-ends now, but there are even better front-ends on dedicated video players designed specifically for that purpose.

    As far as your two-year prediction, you aren't saying anything that HTPC enthusiasts weren't claiming 2 years ago, and 2 years before that. The fact is, the average consumer just wants to push Power and hit Play. The majority of people see working with computers as a necessity, not an enjoyable task, and telling them they have to use a computer for their entertainment will make them cringe. Plus, the "green" movement is not going to like the idea at all, and given that "green" technologies are emerging as the next big wave, people are not going to flock in droves to purchase a 600-watt dual-core system to render their 1080p video when they can buy a 40-watt media player. Have you seen the WD TV player? It will render flawless 1080p video, and it is the size of a slightly-thick 2.5-inch portable external hard drive.

     

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  9.  
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    hegemon13, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You need to catch up on your technology. Many of the mid-level video cards, and almost all the high-end ones, now have HDMI ouput capable of 1080p. Heck, I have seen motherboards from ASUS and XFX that have onboard HDMI output capable of 1080p.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 7:42am

    If Blockbuster had hit the PS3, 360, and Wii before Netflix, they would have had a chance.

    Netflix is so far ahead and blockbuster is just trying to keep up. Netflix isn't even really competing with blockbuster now. They are concerned about premium offerings to compete with ad-supported content from sites like hulu.

    Take the Roku Box. It's an awesome hardware solution for Netflix. They've already added Amazon VOD and are supposed to add 8-10 more channels by the end of the year. Netflix has to be concerned about simplifying things so users can get content through them to stay ahead.

    Blockbuster has no way to enhance their service other than the physical stores. And that crowd is slowly being aged out.

     

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  11.  
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    Ima Fish, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 7:46am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You have no idea what you're talking about. A card that puts out a resolution of 1920x1080 at 60hz is 1080P. It's the exact same thing. Once again, 1080p means 1920x1080 progressive, which is 1920x1080@60hz. How could 1920x1080@60hz appear stretched out when it's the exact same resolution?!

    I have a PC connected to my 50" DLP 1080p television and it is set to 1920x1080 and Blu-ray movies, 1080p MKV files, and HD broadcast TV look perfect. Why? Because the content being played in their native resolutions!

    If you're talking about not having HDMI outputs, you can use a DVI to HDMI cable and get the exact same thing. That's what I use.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re:

    "Why would I want an over-powered, power-sucking, noisy PC"

    I've had a PC connected to my TV since 1999. If you PC is noisy, you've built it wrong.

    "when I can have a silent, dedicated video player"

    The problem with a dedicated video player is that it's limited. My PC can play anything. If you stick with dedicated players you're stuck to only what it offers or you buy yet another one.

    "The fact is, the average consumer just wants to push Power and hit Play."

    I have no doubt that HTPC's will not hit the mainstream because most people are ignorant about computers.

    "600-watt dual-core system to render their 1080p video"

    I have an ancient Shuttle PC with a 150 watt power supply that can render 1080p video. You have no idea what you're talking about. You're simply setting up straw horses to prove your point.

    You also do not understand that a PC with a 600 power supply does not necessarily and consistently use 600 watts. The wattage rating is the highest rating. It's the ceiling the power supply can reach if you're pushing your PC to the limit. When it's being used for mundane tasks such as watching a video, it's likely not using anywhere near it's full wattage.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Like most Home Theater hobbiests that I know, you think you guys are on the cutting edge of video technology. Really you are where computer tech was a few years ago. Just b/c you call it something different, doesn't make it different, HDMI will give the same picture as your standard DVI card. If you really want a high end video card to do your output, you can hook 4 TVs up to it each with it's own port. Paying extra for an HDMI output on a video card is just stupid.

     

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  14.  
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    Ima Fish, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Agreed, a DVI to HDMI cable is much cheaper than an HDMI equipped card. The only reason you might need a real HDMI card is to legitimately watch Blu-ray discs on your PC. What who wants to be legit? Me, I'm too legit to quit!

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It is a question encode / decode - and the reality that most people don't own computers with graphic cards that do 1920x1080 resolution. Yes, they sell them now, but most people would likely convert an older PC to do this sort of duty, so for now, most of them can't do it without making an investment in equipment. Depending on how it is done, your 1920x1080 may not be real, but may be an up-conversions done on the video card, etc. Your TV may also not entirely allow for a direct bit to bit conversion from DVI signals... and so on.

    Congrats to you for being at the forefront of new technology. Now you can wait 5 years for the rest of the public to catch up.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    hegemon13, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I know exactly what I am talking about. There are several standalone players, such as NMTs and the WD TV system that also play anything you throw at them. I currently use XBMC on an XBOX (in a cabinet to muffle the fan), which also plays everything I throw at it, but won't handle HD due to the processor speed.

    As far as the wattage, that was probably an exaggeration, but no matter what you are using, a computer is going to take substantially more power than one of the above-mentioned stand-alones (except, perhaps, for my old xbox). You also can't use an old, low-power PC for smooth 1080p. It requires a lot of processing power, and the PC will also cost more than any of the above-mentioned options. It is also going to be inherently noiser. The standalones mentioned above are all fanless. You must have, at minimum, a CPU fan and a PSU fan on a computer. Even if they are so-called silent fans, they are noisier than the fanless units.

    Also, it is not about users being ignorant. It's about convenience. I am perfectly comfortable with computers. I used an HTPC for a long time. I find XBMC and my DVD player to be FAR more convenient. I simply press the power button on the XBOX, and in seconds I have access to my entire media library in a clean, easy-to-browse interface. The simplicity of it is refreshing. Of course, even that is beyond what most home users want. They just want simplicity. Drop in a disc and push play, or choose a show from a list. They don't want unnecessary options and non-media-centric OS's to complicate the experience.

    Finally, I think that I may have overstated my case in my first post. I did not mean to assert that an HTPC is not an available option. I was objecting to Weird Harold's assertion that it was the only "real" solution. There are plenty of solutions out there, and an HTPC is not suitable for most users.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Bradley, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 10:07am

    .

    I would agree with this article somewhat. I don't think a proprietary box is the problem though. Blockbuster is just late to the game. They were late with their box and it didn't work well. From what I have been hearing, it still doesn't work very well.

    VUDU sells a proprietary box and they have been doing fine. Of course, they put the time and effort into quality and perfecting the box.

    Netflix is clearly leading in terms of viewership because they have a huge audience.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    reaperman0, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Once again, WH can't research anything and his lack of knowledge regarding computers is showing. DVI outputs (which all video cards have supported for at least a year or two, probably longer) is equivalent to HDMI. They even make cables that are DVI to HDMI. The only difference is that you would need a nice sound card as well, with a digital audio output to push your sound to your stereo, since you are only running video in this type of configuration.

    And i thought you knew everything about computers, including hacking/security techniques. You always go on and on about how "and IP address is like probable cause".

    Further proof that WH knows very little about PCs. No wonder he's all for the MAFIAA.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Who Still Uses Blockbuster?, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 10:21am

    Not Only Late To Game

    but censorship is a huge part of their business plan. Lots of movies are not available from Blockbuster.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "It is a question encode / decode - and the reality that most people don't own computers with graphic cards that do 1920x1080 resolution."

    You're so full of it. It would be very difficult to find a new computer that couldn't do that resolution.

    "Yes, they sell them now, but most people would likely convert an older PC to do this sort of duty,"

    No, most people would be smart enough to realize that very old, outdated equipment isn't the right choice for demanding applications like video. Congratulations on demonstrating that you are not that smart.

    "Congrats to you for being at the forefront of new technology. Now you can wait 5 years for the rest of the public to catch up."

    It doesn't take anything near "the forefront of new technology". Congratulations on being 10 years behind the times, but don't expect the public to wait up for you.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I know exactly what I am talking about."

    You may think you do, but the reality is different.

    "There are several standalone players, such as NMTs and the WD TV system that also play anything you throw at them."

    And that statement proves that you don't know what you're talking about. There are many video formats that those players won't play.

    What a running-off-at-the-mouth idiot.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Not Only Late To Game

    but censorship is a huge part of their business plan. Lots of movies are not available from Blockbuster.

    That probably means that they'll be rewarded with some kind of government help in the market then.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Once again, WH can't research anything and his lack of knowledge regarding computers is showing.

    It's not really his lack of knowledge on some particular topic that I find noteworthy, but his willingness to go popping off about stuff that he obviously doesn't know much about. And then to start just piling the BS on over it as if he really thinks no one can see through it. Well, it really takes a special kind of ignorance to do that repeatedly, over and over again the way Weird Harold does.

    This would be yet another thread to bookmark as evidence that WH is an idiot with a mouth full of bull that just doesn't know when to stop.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    hegemon13, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Grow up. You don't see me name-calling. Jackass. ;)

    Now, seriously, do you REALLY believe the average home user is EVER going to consider using an HTPC? No. Therefore, it is not the real solution. There are plenty of cons, namely that the OS is not designed for media playback, followed by several others that I mentioned.

    The standalone players I mentioned play enough formats to server nearly everyone, and the evolving firmwares are constantly expanding their compatibility. Sure, they don't handle DRM, but I'll be damned if I recommend DRM to my own worst enemy, so that is a moot point. But, even they are not mainstream. For the average user that buys their content, the "real" solution is a plug-and-play device that plays their streaming and/or physical-media content with the least complication.

    I agree that I would rather have an HTPC than many of the options on the market. However, it is not even marginally realistic to think they are going to take over a statistically significant portion of the market.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Now, seriously, do you REALLY believe the average home user is EVER going to consider using an HTPC?

    Strange, I don't recall having claimed that. I do, however, distinctly remember you making some completely unfounded statements demonstrating your ignorance of the matter.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 3:31pm

    Hahaha

    WH - what a dumbass

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    hegemon13, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 3:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wow, I had no idea that arguing against the market dominance of HTPCs within two years (read Weird Harold's post-he did make that claim) would bring out the bitterly angry sociopath in people. Relax, and keep using your beloved HTPC. No one is going to take it away from you. Even if Microsoft tries with their ridiculous DRM schemes, there will be countless Linux distros (some getting quite close to truly media-centric) to take their place.

    In the meantime, understand that standalone solutions ARE getting a lot better, and are much more likely to serve the needs of the average home user. With upgradeable, community-developed firmwares, these devices are likely to become just as flexible and future-proof (or really damn close) as an HTPC in the near future. (The WDTV already has 3 unofficial firmwares available that significantly expand its feature set. NMTs are quite expandable via their plugins.) To claim that an HTPC is the only "real" solution for home theater is silly. And to claim that an HTPC better serves the average user for Netflix viewing than being able to seamlessly access it in their DVR is equally silly. Again, if you didn't make these claims, then take a look at the post I was responding to before you jumped in with your rude, obnoxious comments.

    Again, I'm not saying you shouldn't have one, but just that there are solutions in the world that exist outside the scope of your tunnel vision.

    Next time, how about you hold off on the name-calling, personal bashing, general jackassery, especially on such a benign f*cking topic? (I realize I did not hold back here. You already breached that barrier.)

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 4:48pm

    TIVO sucks anyways

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wow, I had no idea that arguing against the market dominance of HTPCs within two years (read Weird Harold's post-he did make that claim) would bring out the bitterly angry sociopath in people.

    Believe it or not, disagreeing with you does not make one a sociopath. In fact, just the opposite. Especially when you're opening your mouth so wide to show your ignorance.

    Relax, and keep using your beloved HTPC. No one is going to take it away from you. Even if Microsoft tries with their ridiculous DRM schemes, there will be countless Linux distros (some getting quite close to truly media-centric) to take their place.

    Yikes! I never said anything about any of those things. You are really going off the deep end there if you think I did. Going off the deep end in a "losing touch with reality" kind of way. You better go check your meds now, I think you missed some. Seriously.

    Next time, how about you hold off on the name-calling, personal bashing, general jackassery, especially on such a benign f*cking topic? (I realize I did not hold back here. You already breached that barrier.)

    Oh, you have quite a reputation as a hypocrite using sockpuppets and foul language (you're not quite as anonymous as you think). Or is that just part of a multiple personality disorder?

     

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