According to a new study by the Yankee Group, 1 in 8 American plan on cutting back or completely ditching pay TV in 2010. I'm surprised the number isn't higher but the fact that it exists isn't. With the proliferation of online TV services such as iTunes and Netflix and the ever-increasing prices of cable and satellite services, who wants to pay $100 or $200 every month? Not me. Look for this number to be higher in 2011.
Anyone seriously concerned about acquiring swine flu or any other number of exotic diseases these days probably wonder about the cleanliness inherent in handling money--or say, Netflix discs. To test out the cleanliness of Netflix discs, which are handled by millions of people, KLTV.com sent a sample of six Netflix discs and sleeves to the pathology lab at the University of Texas Health Science Center of Tyler to put them under the microscope. Surprisingly, at least to myself, the four different types of bacteria found to be growing on the discs were nothing to be concerned about. Separate testing of the sleeves proved to be benign as well. To be fair, a sample of six discs is small, and doesn't mean every Netflix disc is clean. But I wonder if companies like Redbox or Blockbuster would fair as well?
Researcher foils movie theater pirates with colorful splotches of light
The threat of a hefty fine or a jail sentence is going to stop a movie pirate--you know, those enterprising thieves that lug video recording hardware into theaters and get it all on tape. Both threats rank as intangibles that can't register until they actually happen. Mess up a video recording--even threaten it--and that will register.
Isao Echizen of the National Institute of Informatics, in cooperation with Sharp, has invented a technology that places near-infrared LEDs behind the movie screen, sending light through little holes when the movie is playing. The human eye can't see them because the wavelength used is indistinguishable to the human eye. But playback that video recording, dear pirate, and you'll see really, really annoying red and green blotches all over the screen.
Sharp aims to commercialize this technology in 2-3 years, though by that time I'm sure pirates will have moved to something way more high-tech than camcorders for in-theater movie piracy.
The Washington Post has a great write-up about the evolution from the tube TV to the flatscreen--and why you can't even give away your tube TV once you upgrade.
Carroll offered his TV free on Craigslist and got some interest, but no solid taker. If nothing clicks for Carroll and Johnson, their options include the dump, which neither prefers, and Goodwill, which still accepts donations of TVs if they are digital-ready. Goodwill no longer takes models lacking a coaxial cable connection. And there is recycling. In Montgomery, where Johnson lives, the government pays e-Structors, an Elkridge company, 7.2 cents a pound to pick up clunker TVs and strip them for parts. The recession has driven commodity prices so low that the material inside the TV is worth less than the cost of recycling it.
Blockbuster OnDemand available through 2009 Samsung home theater hardware
I've long been calling for the death of Blockbuster, big cynic that I am and all. But a partnership announced today with Samsung is probably the best thing that's happened to the former video rental bigwig in a long time. And it could be a big step in proving my long-standing prediction wrong.
Blockbuster OnDemand, the company's streaming video service, will be integrated into Samsung's home theater products by this fall. As part of the agreement, Blockbuster OnDemand will be available through all 2009 Samsung HDTVs coming this fall, and have preferred placement on Samsung Blu-ray players.
Furthermore, Samsung Blu-ray products will be sold in Blockbuster's bricks-and-mortar stores as well as through Blockbuster online.
Blockbuster OnDemand allows users to rent or buy movies directly from Samsung products. It can be managed directly from the HDTV using nothing more than a remote. No PC integration or management is needed.
For those of you who have already bought early 2009 models, a firmware update will allow you to access Blockbuster OnDemand on Samsung LCDs and plasmas 650 and above, and LED HDTVs 7000 and above.
Although they've showed signs of slowing down lately, Verizon has been pushing its FiOS TV network across the United States at lightning speed. Just last week the company rolled out FiOS in all five boroughs of New York City, bringing 100 HD channels to citizens of the Big Apple. And while the fiber-based TV service is a huge threat to the American cable industry, it's facing a looming threat itself.
That threat would be CableLabs' tru2way platform which, Verizon says, isn't compatible with the FiOS network. In fact the threat is so large that Verizon is lobbying the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to "encourage the development of interactive video standards based on a low-cost, universally implementable interface" such as Ethernet so no one cable provider is at a disadvantage.
It might be too late now though; the six largest cable providers in the United States have already signed Memorandum's of Understanding pledging pledging support for the two-way open platform that allows cable subscribers to access VOD services and other interactive features without the need for a set-top box.
Verizon feels the tru2way platform is proprietary and built for traditional cable providers, putting them at a disadvantage. Plus technical standards aren't really standards unless they can apply to all cable providers, traditional or not. We don't think Verizon should worry too much. If the tru2way initiative does take off on a mass scale, it won't be for a couple more years of set-top boxes giving the company plenty of time to figure out its next move.
FiOS TV Coming To New York City Today, Web Vid Streaming On Its Way
After all kinds of hurdles and red tape, Verizon's FiOS TV is finally rolling out in New York City today. And it will be big, including a giant press event at Grand Central Station that will be webcast on the interwebs if you find yourself located somewhere else in the world. On July 16, Verizon was approved by the New York State Public Service Commission to provide FiOS TV service to all of New York's five boroughs, the final step in a long process that included fighting for approval from the New York Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications and the city's Franchise and Concession Review Committee. The first telecommunications company to offer broadband internet, telephone and TV service to all five boroughs, Verizon will finally bring some competition to Time Warner Cable who has dominated the New York telecommunications scene for some time now.
In related news, Verizon is also beta testing web video streaming via their own set-top boxes, initially partnering with the likes of YouTube, Blip.tv, Break.com, and Veoh. The test service uses Verizon's proprietary Media Manager PC software as an intermediary between the internet and the TV. All's you would do is select a video from the DVR and then the Media Manager software will transcode and stream the web content to your TV. The Media Manager PC software will also allow streaming of video podcasts and support RSS feeds of video sites for added convenience. So far things are looking good for an official release later this year or early next as part of Verizon's top-tiered package, though those who aren't subscribers right now can try it out.
Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-Verse Going Big For Beijing Olympics
Both Verizon and AT&T will bring the Beijing Olympics to multiple broadcasting platforms next month, granted permission by US exclusive-rights carrier NBC Universal to stream NBC Olympic coverage via mobile, IPTV and broadband. Verizon will offer coverage via its FiOS TV service through both live streaming and video-on-demand programming. They'll also offer two dedicated HD channels for soccer and basketball coverage. Mobile video fans will be able to view NBC daily highlights as well as up-to-date news and results on their mobile devices.
AT&T will air similar NBC content via their U-Verse service including both live streaming and video-on-demand content. U-Verse subscribers will also have access to NBC's Olympics Interactive, a dedicated channel on their TV's where they'll find live programming, news updates, multiple feeds and even bios of some of America's medal hopefuls. Internet video fanatics will have access to live streaming, on-demand video and interactive widgets courtesy of NBCOlympics.com. Probably thanks to their spot as an official Olympics sponsor and telecommunications provider, AT&T has exclusive rights to broadcast live Olympics coverage on its MediaFLO mobile video service 24/7. The dedicated channel is to be dubbed NBC Olympics 2Go.
Rumor has it that JVC is set to pull out of the Japanese LCD TV market to instead focus on the North America and Europe where the brand has seen greater success. Expected to be officially announced April 25 at its earnings call for the 2007 fiscal year, JVC has apparently made the decision after spending the last few years trounced by domestic competitors such as Panasonic and Samsung. The company, of which Panasonic-parent company Matsushita owns 36.8% is currently the 5th largest LCD TV manufacturer in Japan, but only holds a domestic market share of 3.1%, succumbing to the greater manufacturing powers of bigger brands.
Although JVC plans to continue serving the LCD TV needs of corporate and public sector clients in its home country, its decision to pull out of the consumer market definitely made investors happy yesterday as JVC share shot up nearly 12% following the announcement. The company, which supposedly lost $470.2 million last year, hopes to up their LCD TV sales to 1.1 million units in 2008, with 65% of that total contributed by overseas sales.
CSI Creator Anthony Zuiker On A Mission To Bring Viewers Back To TV
After losing 8 million viewers last year during one CSI premiere, Anthony Zuiker knew the internet would kill the hit series if he didn't act fast. One of the smarter TV execs, Zuiker decided to start engaging viewers on other platforms aside from the living room TV set, coming up with a model called Cross Blending Storytelling. Zuiker discussed the new viewer engagement model at the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas yesterday, part of his ultimate plan, he says, to bring eyeballs back to the TV. And preferably CSI.
Zuiker's new Cross Blending Storytelling approach involves moving the shows storyline across media boundaries from the "television to the Web to mobile to gaming and back to television", avoiding what he says will be the inevitable dominance of the laptop for TV viewing. Not only does Zuiker figure his method will bring viewers back to the tube, but the ability to monetize all four platforms will make up for any TV dollars lost. Somehow we don't think the monetization potential of the web and mobile is strong enough to make up for lost television dollars, but a proper use of the gaming medium definitely could.
Whether or not Zuiker can manage to turn the tides of evolution in the television world remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure-even he acknowledges the"days of just watching a show from 9-10 (p.m.) are over...it's all going to change."