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The battle for Internet TV : Part I

The battle for Internet TV : Part I

The battle for Internet TV : Part I

There has been lots of hype and lots of activity going on in the world of internet TV of late. But despite all the hype - it still seems to be moving slowly. Some numbers published by the Multimedia Research Group suggest there are 8m subscribers to Internet television services and this should rise to 50m by 2010. These numbers dont take into account free video download services or sites such as YouTube but actual service subscriptions from the likes of Digeo and Vudu. There are a plethora of these types of sites cropping up - some will be winners but many will undoubtedly end up as history lessons. But there is a lot to play for. Sony & Microsoft are betting heavily with their gaming consoles, with them being able to store hours of video content downloaded online. For example, in the US - Microsoft already offers around 2,300 hours of films and shows from 28 studio and television networks through its X-Box live platform. Sony is aiming to become the iTunes of video through its Bravia, PS3 and PSP consoles. But there is still plenty of politicking going on. Last month, NBC cancelled its deal with Apple's iTunes network for video content. NBC provided up to 30% of Apple's television content but has now signed a deal with Amazon's Unbox service. So, lots of activity but who is ultimately going to win? Sony & Microsoft have an advantage in so far as their boxes are already in many homes and plugged into the TV - having to buy yet another box is not exactly consumer friendly. The Netgear EVA8000 looks like a promising device but even I am reluctant to purchase yet another box to go with the Network Attached Storage, Squeezeboxes for Music, Games consoles for gaming and PC's for Internet surfing etc.. for a start my wife is annoyed with the plethora of remote controls in our home right now :-) So, will the PC become a staple of video consumption? Well, there is not many PC's are rigged up in living rooms right now and will they ever? PC's require input devices (keyboards, mice etc.) that don't work as well as a remote control for a normal TV. Again my wife wouldn't even attempt to use it that way - too much hassle for too little reward. Then there is the content itself to consider. High Definition is the future (all the LCD's and Plasma's are sporting stickers about it!) and that requires a LOT of data to be either downloaded / streamed and ultimately stored for viewing. I think it still has a way to run before we really know the answer. However, one group is definitely going to be one of the winners in the Internet video arena? Advertisers. If the platforms are built correctly you will end up with a position where advertisers will know what content you like, when you like to watch it and how you like to consume it. They will know what adverts you "skip" over and which ones you "watch". They will be able to target on a near 1-2-1 basis adverts that fit in with you and your viewing habits. One possible scenario being:- They know you are located in Leeds. They know you are interested in Top Gear (you watch it without fail every week). They know you are male between 18 & 30 (you did fill in the form when you signed up for the service didn't you?). Whats to stop them "seeding" adverts about the latest offer on Ford vehicles in the local area? eg. "Buy now and save 10% on the forecourt price!" or "Take a test drive within 7 days and win an MP3 player!" Personally I quite like the thought of only having to endure adverts that I'm interested in. Beats watching 3 minutes of stuff your never going to purchase :-) Next time I'll go into the technical difficulties of making all of this a reality. Dean

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