stories about: "moviebeam"
Thu, Mar 5th 2009 2:24am
One tech idea that simply won't go away is the set-top box for streaming movies. It's been tried plenty of times before (Netflix, Vudu, Akimbo, Moviebeam, and more) with little success, thanks to technical problems, poor content, bad business models, or some combination of all of them. Each iteration takes a slightly different tack, but the end result usually ends up the same: the dedicated set-top boxes go out with a whimper. Now, there's yet another one coming out, called ZillionTV, with its own take on things. It's the same basic idea: you hook the box up to your TV and your broadband connection, then use it to stream video content. The business model's a little different, though: it will be sold in partnership with ISPs, and users will be able to choose between pay-per-view content without ads, and ad-supported video, including both films and network TV shows. The usual bugbears seem to apply, including worries about the streaming quality and lack of a wide range of content. The ad-supported model, which will be based on targeting ads to users by tracking their viewing habits and other data, is interesting, though TiVo was playing around in a similar space a few years ago and their efforts seem to have gone quiet. What's a bit odd, though, is that the company says the box will cost $100, because "consumers didn't respond as well to free." That's puzzling -- especially if the company really hopes to make its money from advertising. In any case, we definitely won't hold our breath to see if ZillionTV can succeed where so many others have failed.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 6th 2007 6:21pm
from the how-much-money-was-wasted-on-that? dept
Back in 2003, Disney's brilliant idea to "compete" with TiVo and Netflix was to start MovieBeam. Just the fact that Disney felt it needed to compete with TiVo and Netflix shows you how backwards the thinking was at the point. Moviebeam was a terrible idea from the start. People were expected to buy (yet another) expensive set top box from Disney, which would basically be a very limited DVR. The hard drive would come packed with about 100 movies, and each week some would disappear and others would magically "beam" into the box. Despite the fact that you already had to pay for the box, you still had to pay each time you wanted to watch a movie -- and, you were only given a 24-hour time period in which to watch that movie. Two years into the program (with only a few small test markets) Disney shut down the program. At the time, we figured it was gone for good, but somehow, some VCs and Cisco were convinced to pony up $50 million to bring this idea back to life as a spinoff from Disney. Yet, when the offering was relaunched (with a few small improvements) people still didn't care. Earlier this year, the company was basically sold off for next to nothing, and now the company has announced that it's shutting down operations next week. Who knows, though, maybe it'll rise from the dead again, so that it can fail a few more times.