Posts for 'Partnerships'

  • VideoNuze Podcast #199 - Lots of Potential for New Comcast-Twitter "See It" Tool

    I'm pleased to present the 199th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. In this week's edition we discuss the new "See It" tool announced in a partnership between Comcast/NBCU and Twitter.

    Beginning in November, certain tweets about TV shows will carry the "See It" button. When users click on it, they will be given choices to watch the program now on their mobile device, tune their Comcast X1 set-top to that channel to watch on TV, set their DVR or receive a reminder (more about how See It works here).

    Colin and I both like See It's potential to convert the "chatterfest" that now regularly occurs on Twitter around TV shows and live events (sports, award shows, etc.) into higher viewership. Tightly coupling social discovery and the opportunity to immediately watch is very compelling. If Twitter can show See It can actually driving viewership (note, still a big "if"), it would become a very important promotion tool for the TV industry.

    We also discuss how See It works with authentication/TV Everywhere, the critical role that Comcast's new IP-based X1 set-tops play in enabling See It, how the rest of the pay-TV industry might adopt See It, and the potential to spread See It to other social sites. See It's widespread adoption will require a lot of TV ecosystem support, but if its value is quickly proven, we believe that could happen.

    (Last - Colin and I will both be participating in BroadbandTV Con in Hollywood Nov. 4-6.  Come meet us! VideoNuze readers get $75 off conference registration using the code "VideoNuze." Colin will also be hosting a pre-conference workshop.)


    Click here to listen to the podcast (17 minutes, 19 seconds)




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  • Innovid and Cisco Partner for Second Screen Interactive, Contextual Video Ads

    Interactive video advertising provider Innovid, and technology giant Cisco have unveiled a new partnership today at IBC meant to deliver interactive, contextual video ads to second screens.

    As Innovid's CEO and co-founder Zvika Netter explained to me, the proof-of-concepts at IBC show how Innovid taps in, via API, to a Cisco-powered metadata stream associated with a pay-TV operator's services to TVs and second screen apps. The metadata allows Innovid to deliver interactive iRoll ads to the second screen apps that are synched with ads that are running on TV. A second proof-of-concept also shows this done by location. Second screen apps from pay-TV providers have become a key priority as part of their TV Everywhere initiatives.

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  • MSN News Partners With Newsy To Massively Scale Video Production

    MSN News is the latest high-profile news/information site to partner with Newsy for high-quality, short-form, customized video news clips. In a deal announced today, Newsy's editors will work collaboratively in real time with counterparts at MSN News to create and deliver up to 20 videos/day across categories including world, U.S. politics, science & technology, crime & justice and pop culture. Many videos are already live here and here. They will be distributed across all MSN News platforms.

    For Newsy, the MSN News deal is the latest in a string of partnership wins with big news/information sites. In March, Newsy landed a deal with Mashable to create customized videos, which followed other partnerships with AOL/Huffington Post and National Journal. In total, with the MSN News deal, Newsy is creating 200+ custom videos per week for partners, which is part of the 2,000+ videos it creates each month for its own web site, mobile apps and syndication partners such as 5Min, DBG, blinkx, Grab Networks, ClipSyndicate and others. Newsy videos generate over a billion views per year. Newsy uses multiple partner models including revenue sharing and straightforward fees.

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  • Visible Measures and VivaKi Launch CONTAGION, An Earned Media Planning Tool

    Getting a branded video to go hugely viral is like catching lightning in a bottle - it's hard to predict and very rare. But a viral video's huge branding benefits through free, or so-called "earned media" impressions, makes it extremely appealing.

    Now Visible Measures, which has been tracking video viewership across devices for years, and Publicis Groupe's VivaKi and Starcom MediaVest have developed a planning tool called CONTAGION that uses data to help brands and agencies actually plan for how viral a branded video campaign could be. CONTAGION is launching today for use by Publicis Groupe agencies for a year before becoming available to the broader market.

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  • NeuLion and Deluxe Team Up to Offer Branded Online Movie Stores [VIDEO]

    At the NABShow last week, NeuLion and Deluxe Digital Distribution announced a partnership creating the "NeuLion TVE Platform with Deluxe OnDemand" which enables customers to deliver branded online movie stores. Targeted customers include retailers, service providers and content owners who can tap into Deluxe's catalog of 50K movie and TV show titles.

    At NABShow I did a video interview with Chris Wagner, NeuLion's EVP and co-founder, who explains the deal and its potential.

    Watch the video

     
  • HealthiNation Adds to Fitness Library With PumpOne Deal

    HealthiNation, which produces and syndicates health and lifestyle video across multiple platforms, is getting a big boost to its library via an exclusive distribution deal with PumpOne, which has the largest collection of fitness and workout videos and images. PumpOne offers content such as step-by-step workout plans and hour-long exercise classes yoga, bootcamp and other areas.

    HealthiNation separately announced that Seth Solomons has joined its board of directors. Solomons is currently Global CEO of CRM365, a CRM agency that's part of Publicis' VivaKi unit, and is also the former global CMO of Digitas.

     
  • SundaySky - AOL StudioNow Partnership is a Great Example of Video Innovation

    A partnership announced yesterday between SundaySky and StudioNow is another great example of how video is being used to innovate traditional ways of doing business. For those not familiar with either company, SundaySky's technology platform, which I last wrote about here, creates real-time, personalized videos at scale using templates and data feeds, and StudioNow (which is part of AOL's Advertising.com division) offers distributed video production and syndication services.

    The partnership creates a new sales channel for SundaySky, while enhancing the range of services StudioNow can offer its clients. As SundaySky's president and CRO Jim Disco explained to me yesterday, the exciting part is how SundaySky's technology is being innovatively applied and the new value it creates for customers like real estate service provider ListingBook, which was also announced yesterday.

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  • Synacor and Grab Networks Partner to Increase TV Everywhere Content

    Synacor, which provides technology that powers over 40 pay-TV operators' online portals and TV Everywhere initiatives, has partnered with Grab Networks, a syndicator of online video with over 200 different video publishers. With the deal, Synacor's customers will be able to augment their content lineups from Grab's verticals such as Food and Drink, Home and Family, Travel, Health and Relationships. In addition to being available online, Grab's content is also compatible with mobile devices running iOS and Android.

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  • KODAK Gallery Launches Animoto's Video Slideshow Creator

    KODAK Gallery, which has 75 million users, has begun offering Animoto's video slideshow creator via an API, enabling users to build their own slideshows within the KODAK site. For those not familiar with Animoto (which recently raised $25 million), its service allows users to upload photos, short video clips and music which are then packaged into slick video slideshows. Animoto's CEO and co-founder Brad Jefferson gave me a quick overview of the partnership and a company update yesterday.

    The KODAK Gallery partnership (which was originally announced in last March and is Animoto's largest to date), addresses a key challenge for Animoto of how to attract new users to create video slideshows. As Brad explained, reducing the time required to seeing a slideshow or preview is a key objective, and since users have by definition already uploaded photos to the KODAK Gallery, they have a head-start. KODAK Gallery users just need to pick an album and a song and Animoto creates a 30-second slideshow preview which can be expanded into longer versions.

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  • Brainshark Partners With Brightcove To Publish Video Presentations

    Brainshark, which allows users to add voice, music, video and interactivity to PowerPoint and other documents transforming them into video presentations, announced this morning that these can now be "pushed to Brightcove" to achieve greater reach. Brainshark is primarily geared to business users for communications and viewing sessions are fully measurable. Brightcove, which has a large base of media customers, has also moved into non-media verticals such as small business, government, education, etc. The partnership is further proof that flexible, inexpensive tools are becoming available to businesses to help them increase their online video/media competencies.
     
  • Brightcove Partners With Akamai HD Network for Bundled Delivery

    Online video platform Brightcove is transitioning its bundled content delivery offering to the Akamai HD network, for which it will now be a value-added reseller. Jeff Whatcott, Brightcove's SVP of Marketing, explained to me last week that the decision was made in reaction to its customers'  delivery requirements becoming more complex.  Akamai HD's differentiators included improved economics, analytics, mobile delivery and global coverage among others.

    Though the deal isn't exclusive, it will involve Brightcove moving over all of its customers who have been using the bundled delivery offering from Limelight, Brightcove's prior delivery partner. Jeff estimates more than 80% of Brightcove's customers take advantage of bundled delivery, though from Brightcove's standpoint, the fees it derives from delivery are small relative to its software and platform fees. Going forward, Brightcove will continue working with Limelight and other CDNs with whom it has relationships.

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  • Clearleap and Roku Partner, Blurring Traditional Video Distribution Boundaries

    Clearleap, a web-based TV technology platform, and Roku, maker of the popular digital video player, are announcing a partnership this morning that blurs the boundaries between traditional and broadband-centric video distribution. The partnership enables incumbent Pay-TV providers to deliver premium content, including their own video-on-demand (VOD) libraries, plus supplemental online video, to their customers via Roku boxes. As a result, instead of Roku being thought of as one of the "over-the-top" disruptors of the existing video ecosystem, the Clearleap deal will help it - and other connected devices to follow - potentially find a role working with Pay-TV providers to extend their services.

    For industry analysts like me, the deal is a bit of a mind-bender; when I got a sneak preview of the implementation at the Cable Show in LA last month I had to ask more than once about the context and motivations of the parties involved. I refreshed my understanding earlier this week in phone calls with Braxton Jarratt, Clearleap's CEO and co-founder, and Jim Funk, Roku's VP of Business Development.

    Braxton explained that several of Clearleap's cable operator customers have acknowledged the expanding role of online video viewership (e.g. Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, MLB, etc.) via connected devices and are growing concerned that they pose a double negative: diminishing the importance of operators' own video services while also generating additional network traffic, but no incremental revenue upside (assuming the broadband user stays beneath their data cap and doesn't need to upgrade their service tier).

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  • ActiveVideo Networks Helping Blockbuster on Demand Deliver a Converged Experience

    Amid all of the attention Netflix has been receiving for embedding its streaming software in one consumer electronics device after another (the Wii just yesterday) and its recent Warner Bros. deal, it's been easy to overlook the fact that Blockbuster has been getting some online traction itself. One announcement at CES last week, by ActiveVideo Networks, caught my attention as it has the potential to leapfrog Blockbuster On Demand's user experience past Netflix's Watch Instantly.

    Much as I'm a big fan of Netflix's Watch Instantly streaming feature, one of its limitations is that the user experience is very segregated between computer and TV. You browse and search online for titles - just as you would for DVDs - and then when you've made your choices, they show up in your Instant Queue online and on your connected TV (via Roku, Blu-ray, Xbox or other device). While it's a perfectly functional approach, wouldn't it be nice if you could do the entire process of search, discovery, previewing, selection and viewing on the TV itself?

    That's the experience that ActiveVideo Networks' CloudTV will be helping Blockbuster on Demand deliver to its users. As ActiveVideo's CEO Jeff Miller explained to me yesterday, when deployed, the Blockbuster on Demand app (developed using ActiveVideo's JavaScript/HTML authoring kit), will give Blockbuster's users a web-like experience of search, discovery and previewing on their TVs, via connected devices. In addition, it will present viewing options - streaming, download-to-own and in-store rental (via an API it will even show current availability in selected stores).

    The requirements are that ActiveVideo's thin client has been integrated with the device, and that Blockbuster has its own deal with to distribute through the specific device manufacturer. Navigation is via the remote control using an on-screen keypad (see example screen shots below from last week's CES demos).

     

    To date, Blockbuster has announced CE device deals with Samsung, 2Wire, and through its deal with Sonic Solutions, the ecosystem of devices already working with Roxio CinemaNow, such as TiVo. For now, that's small in comparison to Netflix's constellation of device partners, but it's still early in the convergence game. Outside of CE devices - and in a case of somewhat strange bedfellows - Blockbuster is also focused on cable operators. It recently announced partnership deals with top 10 cable operators Suddenlink and Mediacom to enhance their VOD offerings.

    Similarly, ActiveVideo is also focused both on CE (currently through a partnership with middleware provider Videon Central) and on cable. It has deployed on set-top boxes with Cablevision and Oceanic Time Warner Cable in Hawaii, reaching an audience of 5 million homes. Content providers that have developed apps include Showtime, HSN and Fox, among others. No doubt ActiveVideo and Blockbuster will synch up their biz dev activities to proliferate the Blockbuster on Demand app as widely as possible.

    I have to admit that I haven't been paying too much attention to Blockbuster, as it has worked to re-position itself, aiming to close another 1,000 stores by the end of the year and installing more kiosks to compete with Redbox. Of course, it can ill afford to allow Netflix to get too far out in front of it in digital delivery as DVD rentals are poised to be supplanted by streaming down the road.

    But Blockbuster has an ubiquitous, if somewhat dated, brand that could be skillfully leveraged into the digital era, provided it has the right services in its arsenal. In this respect, the potential to bring a converged user experience between online and connected TVs is a meaningful differentiator. No initial joint customers have yet been announced by Blockbuster and ActiveVideo, though I expect that soon. And, as online video and TV continue to converge, ActiveVideo is likely to find itself in the middle of a lot of action. All of this is worth keeping an eye on.

    Update: Looks like I'm 1 step behind on Netflix's Xbox implementation. Apparently in Aug '09 it was updated to allow full browsing and search for the Watch Instantly catalog. I'm used to the Roku and Blu-ray experiences. Hat tip to Brian Fitzgerald for bringing to my attention.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

    (Note - ActiveVideo Networks is a VideoNuze sponsor)

     
  • Ooyala Expands Into Japan with NTT Partnership

    Online video platform provider Ooyala unveiled a partnership yesterday with NTT SMARTCONNECT that expands the company into Japan. Under the non-exclusive deal, the two companies will collaborate to create a localized and co-branded version of Ooyala's Backlot platform. Marketing and sales are set to begin in February.

    As part of the announcement Ooyala also provided some 2009 updates: contracted customers grew from 30 to 300, self-serve customers grew five-fold, the Ooyala player now delivers hundreds of millions of streams/mo to 50 million unique users/mo, it transcodes 60K hours of video/mo and the company now has 70+ employees.

    Ooyala also said that 50% of its customers are marketers, and outside of the traditional media space. The company cited Electronic Arts, for which it powers video on 30 different properties, General Mills and Cerner. The non-media focus parallels what Brightcove recently told me, that over half its business now comes from non-media customers (e.g. business, government and education).

    As I wrote recently, despite all the growth in the online video platform space, it's still relatively early days. To be in the top tier as the market matures will require providers to scale their operations, including international expansion and serving customers outside the core media market. It looks like Ooyala understands this as well.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
  • ActiveVideo and Videon Central Team to Bring Video Apps to CE Devices

    Another building block for delivering video applications to the home through broadband connections is being announced this morning by ActiveVideo Networks and Videon Central. The companies are unveiling a partnership in which AVN's client software will be embedded in Videon's middleware stack used in millions of CE devices. I talked to AVN's SVP of Marketing Edgar Villalpando and Videon's VP of Business Development Michael Daulerio last week to learn more.

    For those not familiar with AVN, it is a cloud-based provider of interactive video applications, with customers like Showtime, Fox Reality, HSN and others. AVN initially focused on delivering apps to service providers' set-top boxes, but has also expanded into the Internet-connected CE space. Videon provides middleware to semiconductor and CE manufacturers, driving user interface and navigation in various devices. As an example, its middleware can be found in over 2M Blu-ray players from Samsung, LG, Insignia and others.

    As Edgar and Michael explained, the goal of the partnership is to enable content providers and others to deliver up-to-date video apps to the growing universe of connected-CE homes. In some ways this is comparable to what Intel and Yahoo are doing with the Widget Channel and other industry initiatives.

    To understand how this works, think of a consumer who rents The Dark Knight Blu-ray disc. The disc itself has additional content like Director's cuts, etc. The problem is that the disc's content is fixed, whereas there's always new Dark Knight-related content being produced (e.g. branded entertainment, product-tie ins, games, user-generated content, etc.). Simply using a bumper to promote the Dark Knight's URL on the disc is a start, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of specific promotion. Given the amount of money now involved in ancillary revenue streams, Warner Bros, the Dark Knight's distributor, is highly motivated to drive stronger engagement.

    Once implemented, a Blu-ray player with AVN/Videon that's connected to the web allows additional video apps and targeted advertising to be presented seamlessly. The idea of joining offline and online media is a powerful draw for content providers trying to build larger franchises around specific titles. The apps are built with AVN's tools that use web standards like JavaScript and HTML. And with cloud-based delivery, storage needs are minimal and content updates can be frequent. Of course, this is not just restricted to Blu-ray players; Michael explained that Videon's middleware is being included in Internet-enabled TVs and other devices as well.

    There is much speculation about how convergence between broadband and TVs is going to unfold. A big sticking point is how the convergence device gets into the home and who pays for it - consumer, content provider or both. From my perspective, building blocks like AVN-Videon are important because they open up new revenue opportunities for content providers and others to help offset the cost of the device. I expect these kinds of initiatives throughout the ecosystem will only accelerate, bringing the convergence era ever closer.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
  • thePlatform Adds Partners to Its Framework Program

    thePlatform is announcing this morning that another 20 companies have joined its "Framework" partner program originally rolled out in Feb. '08. There are now over 80 companies participating.

    In its release, thePlatform notes that its "role is to make online video publishing a seamless process for our customers...." That's a commonly-shared goal among video platform companies, yet I continue to hear from various content providers that stitching together the various pieces they require into a total solution can be difficult. That's why these kinds of programs, where partner products are pre-integrated, add a lot of value for customers.

    Among the many companies thePlatform cites as new partners are quite a few I've written about previously on VideoNuze (click to see each write-up): Aspera, Azuki Systems, BrightRoll, EveryZing, Transpera, Visible Measures, YuMe and others.

    (Note: thePlatform is a VideoNuze sponsor)

     
  • Brightcove and Qik Partner

    Brightcove and Qik are announcing a partnership this morning that further fuses the broadband and mobile video worlds. Under the partnership Qik users will be able to distribute their mobile-recorded video through Brightcove players if they have a Brightcove account. For Brightcove customers the deal will enables mobile recording as a new source of video into their catalogs.

    Qik's client is one of a number of options for mobile video recording and uploading. As I wrote yesterday regarding the iPhone's new video recording capabilities, mobile video capture (and eventually full-featured editing) is poised to become a big activity, implying that few spontaneous significant live events will go unrecorded. We will see additional partnerships like Qik-Brightcove as mobile recording becomes a key source for content providers distributing video over both broadband and mobile.

     
  • Adap.tv Launches Player Partner Program

    The ad management company Adap.tv has taken the wraps off its new "Player Partner Program" this morning. Initial partners include Brightcove, thePlatform, Mogulus, VMIX, Twistage and Kaltura. All are now integrated with Adap.tv's "OneSource" ad management system.

    Yesterday, Dakota Sullivan, Adap.tv's VP of Marketing told me that though the company has been working with Brightcove and thePlatform informally to date, the new program will provide more structure to partners. Included are a central location on the Adap.tv web site for partners for promotional purposes along with other co-marketing and technology updates. No cash is changing hands with partners though, as Adap.tv tries to maintain neutrality.

    These types of partnership programs are springing up all around the broadband video ecosystem, as companies continue to carve out their specific niches, and seek to benefit from partners' marketing efforts in a resource-constrained environment. I expect we'll continue to see them get rolled out.

     
  • 6 Reasons Why the Disney-YouTube Deal Matters

    Late yesterday's announcement that Disney-ABC and ESPN would launch a number of ad-supported channels focused on short-form content was yet another meaningful step in broadband video's maturation process. Here are 6 reasons why I think the deal matters:

    1. It validates YouTube as a must-have promotional and distribution partner

    For many content providers it's long since become standard practice to distribute clips, and often full-length content, on YouTube. Yet aside from CBS, no broadcast TV network has seriously leveraged YouTube. That's been a key missed opportunity, as YouTube is simply too big to ignore. It's not just that YouTube notched 100M unique viewers in Feb. '09 according to comScore, it's that the site has achieved dramatically more market share momentum over the past 2 years than anyone else, increasing from 16.2% of all streams to 41% of all streams.

    Increasingly, YouTube is not the 800 pound gorilla of the broadband video market; it's the 8,000 pound gorilla. Disney has acknowledged what has long been tacitly understood - as a video content provider, it's impossible to succeed fully without a YouTube relationship.

    2. It creates a path for full-length Disney-ABC programming to appear on YouTube and elsewhere

    While this deal only contemplates short-form video, and more than likely, mostly promotional clips, it almost certainly creates a path for full-length episodes to appear as well, as the partners build trust in each other and learn how to monetize. Full-length content is most likely to come from ABC, not ESPN (the release pointedly states no long-form content from ESPN's linear networks is included) as part of a newly expanded distribution approach.

    For YouTube, which has been aggressively evolving from its UGC roots in its quest to generate revenues, the current clip deal alone is a big win; gaining distribution rights to full-length programs would be an even more significant step. Underscoring YouTube's flexibility, the current deal allows ESPN's player to be embedded, and for Disney-ABC to retain ad sales. YouTube's reported redesign, which places more emphasis on premium content, is yet another way it is getting its house in order for premium content deals.

    3. It opens up a new opportunity for original short-form video to flourish

    When you think about broadcast TV networks and studios, you immediately think of conventional long-form content. Yet all of these companies have been producing short-form content that either augments their broadcast programs, or is originally produced for broadband, as Disney's own Stage 9 is pursuing. The levels of success of this content have been all over the board.

    With YouTube as a formal partner, Disney can aggressively leverage it as its primary distribution platform, gaining more direct access to this vast audience. Facing unremitting market pressures on many fronts, broadcast TV networks themselves need to reinvent their business models. Short-form original content married to strong distribution from YouTube would be a whole new strategic opportunity.

    4. It puts pressure on Hulu and other aggregators

    It's hard not to see YouTube's gain as Hulu's - and other aggregators' - loss. For sure nothing's exclusive here, and as PaidContent has reported, discussions about Disney distributing full-length programs on Hulu (as well as YouTube) are also underway. But the Disney deal underscores something important that differentiates YouTube from Hulu: YouTube is both a massive promotional vehicle and a potential long-form distributor, while Hulu is really only the latter.

    YouTube's benefit derives from its first-mover status. Hulu has done a tremendous job building traffic and credibility in its short life, but it is still distant to YouTube in terms of reach. I continue to believe it is far easier for YouTube to evolve from its UGC roots to become also become a premium outlet than it is for Hulu - or anyone else - to ever compete with YouTube's reach.

    5. It raises threat warning to incumbent service providers by another notch

    It's also hard not to see the Disney deal moving YouTube's threat level to incumbent video service providers (cable/satellite/telco) up another notch. We discussed YouTube's importance to these companies at the Broadband Video Leadership Evening 2 weeks ago (video here), and I thought the panelists generally did not give YouTube much credit as it deserves.

    I continue to believe that of all the various "over-the-top" threats to the current world-order, YouTube is the most meaningful ad-supported one. It has massive audience, a potent monetization engine in Google's AdWords, and with the Disney deal, increased credibility with premium content providers. Especially for younger audiences, the YouTube brand means a lot more than any incumbent service provider's. If I were at Comcast, Verizon or DirecTV, I'd be keeping very close tabs on YouTube's evolution.

    6. It exposes the absurdity of the ongoing Viacom-Google litigation

    Two weeks ago at the Media Summit I listened to Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman describe the status of his company's $1 billion lawsuit against Google and YouTube. As he talked of mounds of data and reams of documentation being collected and reviewed, I found myself slumping in my chair, thinking about how well all the lawyers involved in the case must be doing, and yet how pointless it all seems.

    The old adage "2 wrongs don't make a right" fits this situation perfectly. There is no question that in the past YouTube was lax about enforcing copyright protection on its site and cavalier about how it responded publicly to the concerns of rights-holders. But it has made much progress with its Content ID system and a good faith effort to become a trusted partner. All of this is evidenced by the fact that Disney wouldn't even be talking to YouTube, much less cutting a deal, if it didn't view YouTube as reformed. While the media world is moving on, adapting itself to the new rules of video creation, promotion and distribution, Viacom continues to waste resources and executive attention pursuing this case. To be sure, Viacom has been plenty active on the digital front, but it is long overdue that these companies figure out how to resolve their differences and instead focus on how to work together to generate profits for themselves, not their lawyers.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
  • Blockbuster Follows Netflix Onto TiVo Boxes; Ho-Hum

    Blockbuster and TiVo have announced that Blockbuster OnDemand movies will be available on TiVo devices. Though I'm all for creating more choice for viewers to gain access to the content they seek, in this case I don't see the deal creating a ton of new value in the market, as it comes 6 months after Netflix and TiVo announced that Netflix's Watch Instantly service would be available on TiVo devices and nearly 2 years after Amazon and TiVo made Amazon's Unbox titles available for purchase and download to TiVo users. It looks like the main differentiator here is that Blockbuster will begin selling TiVos in their network of physical stores.

    The deal underscores the flurry of partnership activity now underway (which I think will accelerate) between aggregators/content providers and companies with some kind of device enabling broadband access to TVs. I believe the key to these deals actually succeeding rests on 2 main factors: the content offering some new consumer value (selection, price, convenience, exclusivity, etc.) and the access device gaining a sufficiently large footprint. Absent both of these, the new deals will likely find only limited success.

    Consumers now have no shortage of options to download or stream movies, meaning that announcements along the lines of Blockbuster-TiVo break little new ground. To me, a far more fertile area to create new consumer value is offering online access to cable networks' full-length programs. As I survey the landscape of how premium quality video content has or has not moved online, this is the category that has made the least progress so far. That's one of the reasons I think the recent Comcast/Time Warner Cable plans are so exciting.

    With these plans in the works, but no timetables yet announced, non-cable operators need to be thinking about how they too can gain select distribution rights. There's still a lot of new consumer value to be created in this space. Given lucrative existing affiliate deals between cable networks and cable/satellite/telco operators, I admit this won't be easy. However, Hulu's access to Comedy Central's "Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" does prove it's possible.

    We're well into the phase where premium video content is delivered to TVs via broadband. Those that bring distinctive content to large numbers of consumers as easily as possible will be the winners.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.