by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 6th 2012 8:25am
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 30th 2012 3:09am
time warner cable
Time Warner Cable Is Ready For A 'Conversation' About Rising Costs, But Not The One You Want To Have
from the choose-your-friends dept
So it's interesting to see that Time Warner Cable has set up a site, called Time Warner Cable Conversations, which they claim is a conversation with consumers about how to "fight rising costs." Except... they really only want the conversation to be about rising costs caused by what the TV networks charge to carry the channels. If you want to talk about fighting rising costs by arguing against broadband metering, well, too bad. The whole site is moderated and limited and it appears that only conversations about TV networks and such are allowed. That's not much of a "conversation" now, is it?
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jul 27th 2012 3:57pm
from the yet-again dept
Hell, even when they go on Twitter the Olympics can't do things right. There was a lot of buzz around the fact that NBC and Twitter teamed up to create an "Olympics" hub. Great (though some people are pointing out that NBC's own Twitter feed is now tweeting stories that it refuses to broadcast live). However, as Canada-based reporter Mathew Ingram discovered in trying to look up the Olympics Twitter hub, thanks to NBC Universal restrictions, Twitter is geoblocking access. To check it out, I visited the Olympics hub site from the US and saw this:
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Mar 21st 2012 8:16pm
from the is-this-about-piracy-or-fighting-competition dept
Public Knowledge has been fighting the FCC on this for a while and has an action page to let you send a note to the FCC about your concerns with this policy change. From all the indications and scuttlebutt around DC, it seems clear that the FCC has been leaning towards approving this waiver, though realizing that it would kill off an innovative product like Boxee has taken the commissioners by surprise.
Of course, this just highlights the dangers of having politicians make declarations that impact technologies -- especially when they appear to be wholly unfamiliar with the state of the art or the general trend lines of where the technology is heading. They make "simple" decisions without realizing the massive impact such decisions can have.
Boxee has ramped up its offensive against this effort by the cable companies, recently sending out an email urging supporters to voice their concerns with the FCC via the PK action page linked above:
Cable companies want to increase the cable bills of millions of Americans and to virtually eliminate competition from third party devices like Boxee. We want you to know because it will affect millions of people, non-Boxee and Boxee users alike, and we need your help to fight it.It should come as no surprise, of course, that cable companies are seeking to limit consumer choice and better control the market, and even less surprise that they're doing so by making "piracy" claims (next it'll be "for the children!") but that's no reason that the FCC has to simply roll over and break innovative devices and services like Boxee's.
For the past several months, Boxee has been forced into a legislative battle with cable companies. Right now, anyone can get basic tier cable. Attach your TV, computer, or Boxee Live TV tuner and everything just works. Cable companies want the federal government to end that, and to require every user to have ALL of their TVs attached to cable boxes. We’re concerned many users who have Live TV tuners and rely on basic cable will be hurt by this, but we’re also focused on how the issue goes far beyond Boxee.
Here are the effects of the rule:
1. It could more than DOUBLE the cost for the typical new basic cable subscriber.
2. If you have a TV that’s hooked up to cable without a box, you MUST rent a set top box for that TV.
3. If your computer’s TV tuner is connected to your cable connection without a box, it will no longer work unless it uses a CableCARD.
4. If you bought a DVR that does not include a CableCARD it will no longer work without an antenna. If you don’t get signal with the antenna, your DVR is now worthless.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 24th 2012 5:17pm
from the go-disrupt dept
MIPCube Lab is the only start-up competition to be tightly integrated into the TV industry and its future. It provides a global platform for start-ups to get feedback from the most powerful and innovative decision makers in the TV business and obtain funding from the finance community.Having seen the Midem Labs competition evolve and grow over the years, and seen lots of great companies present through there (including folks like Kickstarter and SoundCloud), these events can be really worthwhile for startups, so check it out.
by Derek Kerton
Tue, Feb 21st 2012 8:06pm
from the Temporal-Pre-crime dept
But having looked closely at the offerings at CES, and comparing them to the mobile phone industry, I don't believe that the entire concept of putting extensive intelligence into the TV is a wise one. The reason is mostly because of the temporal mismatch between the lifetime of a TV, and the lifetime of a mobile device, mobile OS, or mobile processor. You see, people want large screen TVs, and these are expensive investments. The main screen in most American homes runs around $1,100. And those screens are designed to have a half-life of around 60,000 hours of viewing. Now, it's not clear how long the average consumer will keep a 1080p TV bought in 2012, but I'd suppose that 10 years is not a ridiculous guess, so humor me and work with 10 years.
So if there is one component of the Smart TV that costs $1,100 and lasts most people about 10 years, does it make sense to mate it to the "smart" part? The cost of the "smartness" is fairly easy to estimate: A Roku box, Google TV box, or Apple TV box run around $70-$100, a Boxee box goes for around $200. So, the "smart" factor runs between $70 and $200 street price. But what is the life-cycle of the average "smart" device? For that, I look to the phone market, where people cycle their smartphones every two years. Apple fans line up at the store to replace their one or two year old 3GS for a 4G because of added features and function. On Android and iOS alike, the latest OS versions, features and apps only work on the latest hardware. Does anyone here have an old phone or smartphone sitting in a drawer? Yes? Do you want to do the same with your $1,100 TV investment? It's a given that a TV is not a smartphone, but for now we're asking them to do similar tasks: apps, streaming media, social updates, etc. The Internet performance of the TVs will become out of date like smartphones do. Tying relatively cheap, 2-3 year life-cycle smarts to an expensive 10 year product just doesn't make sense.
It seems the obvious solution is already here: keep the TV dumb, and provide a set-top box (STB) that has the smarts. The STB can thus be replaced cheaply, once out of date. Consumers can easily have more than one STB, not committing to any one company's ecosystem. Do people really want to buy their TV's by ecosystem? "Hey, I love this Sony's picture, price, and size...but I want an iCloud, so I'll buy this smaller TV instead."
Really, the Smart TV is just a sales vehicle dreamt up and promoted by the TV OEMs. They had a bang-up decade updating everyone to flat panels, then pushing the upgrade to 1080P. They've had less success with 3D, and are looking for the hook to make another upgrade worthwhile. For now, Smart is it. But I doubt customers are eager to jump on, given they can just buy a STB. Even those actively looking for a TV may resist if there is a price premium, given most Blu-ray players and many cable or telco STBs already provide smart features. The TV OEMs are going to have to bundle in the smarts for free, and hope that they can make money back on the content ecosystem. But will they enjoy ecosystem lock-in for 10 years, or less?
So far, the Smart TVs sold to market are too new to have suffered from the life-cycle mismatch. The earliest Smart TVs can still compete on level ground with the latest, since it's only been a year or so since they've been in shops. But it won't be long until we start hearing complaints from those customers that "I can't stream that resolution." or "Why can't I watch programs with that new MP4 codec?" or "That app doesn't work for me. Why can't I get the latest OS on my TV?" Some of those people will end up with a newer STB, and just obviate the smarts that had been built into their TV, much the same way most of us don't use the TV tuner that is bundled with our sets.
Ultimately, whatever the problem that Steve Jobs "cracked", or whatever smarts are provided by Sony, Google, LG, Samsung, etc. I think those smarts will be better placed in a STB (or tablet, or other smart device) than in a TV.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 19th 2012 8:48am
from the wait,-what? dept
The networks have embraced the idea — originally hatched by cable networks — of introducing initial episodes of their shows through other distribution outlets like YouTube before they have their premiere on their own schedules.Yes, the same YouTube that Viacom is still trying to sue out of existence. The same YouTube that supporters of PIPA and SOPA still insist is really a den of "piracy" from which Google unfairly profits.
So, here's a simple question: How much are these networks paying YouTube/Google for the use of YouTube's software, bandwidth and audience? Nothing? Damn those TV networks... just wanting all that stuff for free. But, more to the point, if laws like PIPA and SOPA were put in place a few years ago, the networks wouldn't even have a YouTube to do this. This is what's most stunning about all of this. They seem to think that they've come up with something brilliant and new here, when this is all that "pirates" were doing earlier: putting stuff online to make it accessible. When "pirates" do it, it's theft? And when companies do it, it's some brilliant marketing scheme? How's that work?
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jan 9th 2012 2:10pm
from the but,-of-course dept
The folks over at Media Matters decided to check in on this and have confirmed that the big TV news players have almost entirely ignored it, despite the widespread controversy found elsewhere in the mainstream press:
As the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) makes its way through Congress, most major television news outlets -- MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, CBS, and NBC -- have ignored the bill during their evening broadcasts. One network, CNN, devoted a single evening segment to it.The report does note that there have been articles online... but very few TV segments. It also discusses how much attention SOPA/PIPA is getting, concerning all the companies who have come out against it, the media coverage in the NY Times among other places, and the big GoDaddy flip-flop -- to highlight that this is a big story making waves.
Despite all of this, the response from American television news outlets has been to almost completely ignore the story during their evening programming. The lone exception was a segment on CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer in December, during which CNN parent company Time Warner's support for the legislation was not disclosed. (Though Fox News Channel has apparently not touched the story during evening programming, conservative/libertarian host Andrew Napolitano has run several segments vocally opposing SOPA on his program, which runs on the separate Fox Business Network.)It's postulated that perhaps the issue is the fact that SOPA/PIPA don't fall along easily scripted left vs. right lines:
The fight over SOPA does not fit into the usual left vs. right narrative that occupies so much of the political horserace coverage with which TV news outlets fill their schedules. The cosponsors of SOPA come from both sides of the aisle. Likewise, the most vocal opponents of SOPA in Congress are an ideologically diverse bunch, including Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Ron Paul (R-TX) and Darrel Issa (R-CA).Either that... or the corporate folks upstairs don't want to allow this to become an even bigger story.
Of course, as I was writing this up, Tim Cushing was writing up the same story (coordination, people, coordination!), with an alternate theory -- which makes sense too. So, everything below the line is his read on the situation:
Tim Cushing's analysis: Gray areas seldom make compelling news, especially when there's no political angle to take. Beyond that, I think the mainstream media silence is also explained by the outdated thought process that still believes that the Internet Is Not Real.
First and foremost, the evening news is generally a broad overview of the days' happenings. Not only do they not have the time to delve into an issue that mainly affects an "ethereal" service like the web, but they also (ignoring any corporate bias for the sake of argument) have no interest in doing so. The cliche that "if it bleeds, it leads" likely eliminates a war that involves a bloodless dismantling of the internet. The internet is generally trotted out only as an example of how things are bad (online bullying, etc.) or how things are cute/weird (any crossover meme that can be easily brought up, discussed and dismissed forever in less than 60 seconds).
Even though many news teams invite you to follow them on Twitter or Facebook, the connection seems to go no further than that. The percentage of the population that still relies on the evening news to get them caught up on the world is unlikely to care about legislation that affects the internet.
In essence, the internet is still treated like some sort of fad infested with tech-y nerds and thus can be safely ignored when dealing with Real Issues on the nightly news. This attitude is pervasive, both within content companies and among our representatives. The gatekeepers pushing the legislation need the internet as much as it claims it needs them, but they want their own internet, one closer in spirit to The Village than the Wild West.
Our legislators are still amused by their own lack of internet prowess, indicating that they still believe the web to be some sort of "outlier" whose opinions can be easily dismissed. It's a cognitive gap, but it explains why the mainstream TV news so willingly ignores SOPA and the building momentum of its opposition: it's just the internet. It can be either humored or feared, but never respected.
Thu, Jan 5th 2012 6:16am
from the and-make-it-easy dept
"The key element this year: the power of large groups of people to make use of the technology to start to say, "No!" to those who have sought to hold back progress."A heady concept, but one which I think will only prevail as technology marches forward. That said, I had a slightly different take as a result of a personal story that happened on Christmas Day. Like many of you, I made the trek with my girlfriend to my parent's house to exchange gifts, eat too much food, and sit around with my family and friends talking as the television sat in the background displaying football and basketball. As the night progressed, the food cooled, the board games became boring, and the way my family slings around red wine resulted in the urge to go home early in the evening. Since my girlfriend was kind enough to drive us home (sober, of course), I was free to do what I wanted in the passenger seat.
And what I wanted to do was watch sports. The tail end of the Bulls game was still on. The Bears game would shortly follow. Sports on radio never did much for me. I wanted to watch. So I yanked out my smart phone and checked out the NBA site, the NFL site, and the sites of our local television stations. What I found was what I expected: the local stations didn't offer any streaming of the games, but the NBA and NFL have their versions of mobile streaming packages which generally start right around the $50/season mark. This gets you access to their respective broadcasts (not the local ones).
Here's my question: why is any of this necessary? With that same smart phone, I could have gone to one of dozens of websites (evil, evil websites) that would simply stream the games I wanted directly to my device for free. More to the point, they'd stream the local broadcast that I wanted, complete with commercials. Why wouldn't the major sports leagues do the same thing? If advertising is still the major money-maker for professional sports (and, along with merchandise, it is), why wouldn't they want to increase their reach by offering their own free advertisement-laden stream? Coupled with location identifiers, I'd think the leagues could partner with local broadcasters to make sure that people were getting the same geographical broadcast they'd get watching at home. Again, the same commercials can be in place, so what's lost? Why charge me $50 a season to watch the game on my phone or tablet, but not levy that same charge for watching on my television? It's the ads that matter, isn't it?
It seems I'm not the only one with this kind of experience, either. VC Fred Wilson relates a similar tale, touching on the additional idiocy of navigating local blackouts of games with many of these league packages, all in the name of protecting the same local broadcasters whose numbers could be boosted by offering free streams of the game:
"Last night we were turned into "pirates" as the entertainment industry likes to call us. As 2011 turned into 2012, the executives at Time Warner Cable and MSG Network were unable to make a deal to keep MSG on Time Warner Cable. My son was fuming and so was I."But he wasn't fuming for long, as helpful Twitter followers showed him a plethora of sites where he could get the stream he wanted, for free, with none of that viewership resulting in revenue for the league or the broadcaster. Which is a shame, because if they wanted to, everyone could be making money off this stuff while enhancing the fan's experience with a better quality stream.
And so we get back to the start of this piece, in contrast to Mike's message of masses saying "no" to those who impede technological progress. Because in my case, driving home that blustery Christmas night, with only thoughts of Derrick Rose and Brian Urlacher in my head, I felt no urge to say "no". I only recognized one sentiment as I glanced over the league's packages for streaming and then turned to one of the evil, horrible, death-enducing sites that gave me the stream I wanted just in time to see Derrick Rose drive the lane and score the winning layup to beat the Lakers: I don't need their packages.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 13th 2011 7:08pm
Hulu's Owners Unable To Find Idiots Willing To Overpay To Take Hulu Off Their Hands Before They Kill It
from the tough-luck dept
So it comes as little surprise that Hulu has now announced that its owners are no longer trying to sell the company off. Instead, they'll focus on suffocating it from within. Well, that part wasn't mentioned, but watch what happens to Hulu execs over the next few months. I think it's likely that we're going to start seeing some departures of key people. Hulu was an amazingly well executed offering with a really capable team... but as we predicted, the fact that the only way it could really succeed was to cannibalize the business of its owners, almost certainly meant that Hulu would never be allowed to execute on the strategy it needed to become a massive player.
Of course, what the big TV companies still fail to recognize is that killing off Hulu doesn't stop the move to an a la cart, online driven world. It just means that when it comes, they will be even less relevant, and less able to capitalize on it.