What happens when the lines blur between broadcast TV, cable, and Internet content? Is this what IPTV was supposed to be?

CNET hosted a roundtable of experts to address such questions and tackle the ever increasing collisions between video content online when the TV is also an Internet connected device. The roundtable included the prolific AMC’s Script to Screen and Mashable blogger Christina Warren as well as Boxee CEO, Avner Ronen.

During the roundtable discussion, both Warren and Ronen weighed in on everything from format wars, to limitations to content today, to controlling parties for content, to the viability of dropping your cable TV bill in favor of just a broadband bill. Of particular note, Warren detailed how her mother is consuming content via Tivo and online today but goes on to describe how this will likely evolve in the household to include if not converge on an iPad.

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The live online streaming of the roundtable was followed up with placement of a video archive within just a few minutes after the live feed concluded. True to the topics covered, the CNET video embedded below is actually available in a variety of video formats suitable for internet enabled TV viewing or download to a mobile device.

Let that sink in for a moment…

When the topic “can you truly cut the cable” was raised, an the amusing point was made by CNET host Rafe Needleman. With respect to content availability, Needleman indicated he’d rather not pay two bills for the same content. Considering the mantra of TV Everywhere, perhaps there is something to be said for a simpler way to pay for what media is actually consumed at a price commensurate with the experience.

Sports content is an area that Ronen says Boxee will continue to pursue as will his competitors in the device market. Ronen went on to highlight that the Internet enables a better fan experience than broadcast TV provides today. His comments lead one wonder how long before every inch of the modern playing field is an interactive opportunity in waiting.

As iPad Day is at hand, the topic of iPad and where it fits came up as well. While a great many pundits are falling all over themselves regarding iPad and the lack of Adobe Flash support, Warren was quick to point out a likely fallacy in such objections: TV quality video content is often delivered in a Flash container while underneath it’s already in H.264 format. One need only open YouTube on an Adobe Flash bereft iPhone or iPod Touch to see her point.

And now a question for the Telecompetitor community:

Do you think the broadband strategy you have in place today will support the vision of the future outlined by Ronen and Warren in the video above?

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15 thoughts on “The Blurring Lines of OTT, IPTV

  1. Depends on what you mean by strategy. We're doing FTTH, so I think we'll be fine. The real question is how to make money on this. Will $40/month for broadband provide enough roi if everyone wants cable via the Internet. No. So we need to do triple play over that pipe to get arpu up enough to make the investment worth it. The real question is, can you charge a video subscription for Internet delivered video?

    1. Tim I would definitely agree that FTTH is sound strategy. For those still trying to make a go of it with copper and EoC (bonding)… I view that as deferring to the second half — and who knows what the score will be by then.

      As long as a provider is ready to take on the granularity afforded by price commensurate with the experience — why not explore a video subscription further? Why not charge for the experience of instantly available archived content vs. having to wait for it? Why not have a provisioning system in place that anticipates different uses of broadband to make the ARPU align with ROI?

      1. Nice ideas, BUT you have to market and sell a service, not just have the technical capability to provide it. Will average consumers understand those products, much less buy them?

        1. Hmm… my comment was cut off a bit. My third paragraph was that by partnering with a CDN an RLEC could create a better experience for a subscriber within their market as content moves from SD to HD to whatever is next. Right now SD with OTT is strictly best effort. So, the CDN involvement would mean the difference between the small screen and the bigger screen experience.

          This would mean marketing and selling a tier of access where a subscriber is guaranteed access to the best performing CDN. This tier is about a download that takes seconds vs. minutes vs. hours or that the streaming rates are better than their basic broadband tier would allow (for the window of the viewing). Tiered broadband at $10, $20, $30 break points might not be as attractive as the $6.50 per CDN package price point for example.

          Again, I'm thinking in terms of big screen experience vs. hand held devices and burst vs. sustained activity. Plus there is the benefit that a CDN inside the CO/headend is not going to affect the Internet egress costs since this stays within the access layer.

          As for live sports and events — I'd love to see the solutions come down in price (cost basis).

  2. I'm just looking forward to the end of "channels" as a concept (and that's all that's left, really). With a DVR, I get pretty close to "what I want when I want it", but if I was able to do that by interacting with a remote content provider, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I'm pretty sick of the cable companies concept of "channel packages" and straight refusal to do a-la-carte pricing.

    Netflix and iTunes selling specific episodes of specific shows is the way of the future, and by the time cable companies wake up to that fact it'll be too late. They've got the chance to make it seamless and low cost (to them) and they're squandering it by putting buggy DVRs in peoples houses and charging for channels nobody watches.

    I'm also looking forward to the end of the (hard object) format wars. The (digital container) format wars are far from over.

    1. To be fair, it's not the 'cable companies' (at least not the small ones) who are forcing "channel packages." It's the media conglomerates (aka 'the programmers") like Disney/ESPN, Time Warner, etc. that force these channel packages (and also refuse a la carte) on cable companies and ultimately, consumers.

      1. I think the stat mentioned in the video above was ~10% of cable content was available online through legitimate means. Which begs the question about the other 90%… which might sound familiar to those of us that have seen the deluge of MPAA and RIAA takedown requests at ISPs over illicit [1] content.

        [1] The MPAA/RIAA version of illicit vs. the BBC version of illicit was amusing to me at least http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/3475146/Chi

      2. I can dig the Media Conglomerates (like Time Warner, who is also my cable company), saying "You want this 'channel' you have to buy these other 'channels'", but does that extend to (essentially) forcing it on the consumer, too? (and yes, I put channel in jerk quotes because channels as a concept/organizational tool are trending towards useless). So the large media companies get to say "If the end consumer buys the Disney Channel, they have to get ABC family, too, and you can pass the charges along."

        Really? That just seems… bizarre. Retrograde, even. I see per-channel pricing as a step towards per-show pricing (which I don't see as a bad thing), and this content provider based top down enforcement of channel bundling just forces people into getting it elsewhere for free.

        And makes both the content providers and broadcasters lose in the process.

        1. It absolutely does extend to forcing it on the consumer. Cable companies pay a per subscriber fee for each channel, many of which are tied together as you noted with ABC Family, etc. BTW Time Warner Cable is no longer a part of Time Warner – it was spun off as a separate company last year.

  3. I believe you will see the convergence of OTT & IPTV (Cable, Satellite) coming from the service providers thru hybrid IPTV/OTT (Cable/OTT or Satellite/OTT) Set-top Boxes for the vast majority of users because the service providers will offer their customers:

    1) A single consolidated bill for all their services (Phone, Internet, TV, Mobile, etc)
    2) Provide customer service to customer's homes & replace/update devices (CE companies won't make house calls nor would consumers want them to if they need help installing/repair equipment)

    1. On point 2) the thought of "The Box Guy" having to work on something in my house is pretty frightening. 🙂

      Do you think that Geek Squad-like companies will be on the rise to make sense of things for consumers or will the devices overall improve to avoid blinking 12:00 scenarios and become more TiVo like?

      1. My opinion is that boxes and the software will improve dramatically over the next couple of years with things like virtual cable cards that be updated remotely versus providing new hardware.

        Also as service providers use current in home boxes (game consoles, blu-ray players) to extend their TV offering some kind of servicing companies will evolve to meet the demand from the customer versus me shipping my XBox 360 back and being out of those services until I receive a new device.

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