Archive for the ‘Internet TV’ Category

ChannelLauncher [UPDATE]

[UPDATE] We’ve rebranded ChannelShift to ChannelLauncher. Turns out that it wasn’t obvious to our (potential)

customers just exactly what the hell we do for them. Using ChannelLauncher makes that a whole lot easier and it’s a

much smoother conversation to have when your brand name reflects what your product does. Fortunately we made the decision before it became a crisis and we based it on customer feedback as well. There were other things that fed into this decision but never assume that people will “just know” what you do. It’s always going to be obvious to you what your product does and how great it is. But when people are scratching their heads before you’re even off the first phone call with them, it’s time to reconsider.

A lot has been going on in the streaming video space over the past 12 months. A “rumored” TV from Apple is on the way, UI updates for the existing AppleTV as well as GoogleTV, Boxee and an upcoming one from Roku. Intel announcesthat they’re entering the streaming video platform arena, Ubuntu launches UbuntuTV and HULU is mid-season for one of it’s exclusive shows. With that inmind, we’re working to bring more great content to SmartTVs, Roku, Boxee, and other platforms. Since so much is happening so quickly, we’ve put up Tumblr [and Pinterest] accounts that will have the latest news and announcements about what’s coming to ChannelShift and how people can get the most out of Internet TV. Honestly, aside from Netflix and HULU, there’s not a lot of really awesome stuff out there, but that’s why this market is poised to explode over the next couple of years.

The Most Daring of Ideas

In March, Paul Graham wrote a post about the top 7 most daring startup ideas. At number 4 was “Internet Drama” which discussed how video content delivery will be changing consumer’s viewing habits. He also identified two ways that this was likely to play out – either Netflix, HULU or a similar platform will continue to aggregate content from studios or a platform will provide streaming a-la-carte programming along with out of the box subscription services. The latter is exactly what ChannelShift does for video content providers. In my opinion, video distributed over Netflix or HULU builds the brands of the aggregators, not the content producers. It also makes it difficult to grow an audience and recognize increased revenue as a result. So what’s needed is a platform that allows video content with high production value (i.e. not cats swinging from a fan) to get to mobile, tablet, IPTV and ConnectedTV’s quickly and through a subscription payment method to consumers. Precisely what we’ve built with ChannelShift.

When I started the company a year ago I had no idea that it would be called the most daring of ideas. What I did see was the need for a company that focused specifically on what was happening in streaming technology and that could make it simple and profitable for companies to get access to it. So to me, it’s only  a daring idea if you don’t break it down into smaller pieces and then start knocking them out. Face your most daring ideas head-on, I promise you it’s the most rewarding of accomplishments.

Digital Hollywood 2011

I’m attending Digital Hollywood LA in Marina Del Rey. Although the weather has been chilly (I call it cold) the sessions have been eye opening. I came out here thinking I’d be a pariah – the IPTV guy in the middle of the status-quo. What I found instead was essentially everyone looking for way to increase distribution, support advertising and better target consumers with that advertising. I came also out here to discover what the entertainment industry really thought of the disruption taking place in Internet TV thinking that most would be looking to extend the existing model. That was a bad assumption. Instead, the disruption is being embraced head-on. There are of course the questions revolving around how to monetize the platforms but nobody is really fighting the shift and the conference really feels like “how do we deal with the end of cable?” Almost every session I’ve been in has been about multi-screen distribution across mobile, tablet and Smart TVs. I’m getting ready to head into the third day most of the sessions I’m attending revolve around internet video and TV 2.0 programming. The trip out here has been well worth it. I’ve met several potential strategic partners that I’ll be following up with in the next week. What was unexpected however was the unintentional discovery of a potential competitor. By piecing together bits of other conversations I’ve found that a leading brand is probably creating a platform for indi-producers and is quietly booting people off their parent platform. Not quite what we’re doing with our platform but I see this as validation that the industry is moving away from typical cable distribution and towards internet TV. With this development, combined with the rest of the discussions I’ve been having with people, I’m more convinced than ever that we’re on the right track with our platform development.

And now… off to more sessions.

Glenn Beck, GBTV, and the Future of Internet TV Programming

Say what you will about Glenn Beck but he is paving the way for a lot of other shows to jump to Internet TV. Think of it this way: the music industry was flipped on it’s ass because we had to buy entire albums or CD’s when we really only wanted 1-2 tracks. As a consumer, buying my media this way is ludicrous, I only want to pay for what I want to watch. Today the cable operators drive money through advertising and subscriber fees. Of that, maybe 40% gets back to the content creators. See the parallels with the music industry here?

This morning I re-read the 9/12 through 9/18 edition of Bloomberg Businessweek’s article about Glenn Beck Bets Big on GBTV. One of the major challenges is filling out the content space with quality programming. That’s not cheap and can run about $25k per episode for 1970′s programming. $25,000 for reruns. How much of that goes back to the people that created or acted in the show? Probably very little. But there’s actually a cheaper and more effective way to go about this. The intent is to accomplish two things here: 1) Fill out the day with more programming  2) Make that programming unique and interesting enough to attract more viewers.

Who creates unique and interesting content? High school students, college students and indie studios. Usually underfunded and fighting for space on YouTube, Vimeo or Ustream, hoping to go viral or at least gain some notoriety.  There’s definitely unique story lines, things we haven’t seen before on cable TV because the studios just won’t take a flyer on an unproven producer or writer. The costs are just too high for a studio to do that. But the economics of Internet TV are different, you don’t have to pay the network, studio, local stations and all the other people in between the story and the viewer.

So here’s the plan… Create a competition that awards 10 shows $25,000 each in financing. That cash allows the creators to really begin to produce their story lines. Give them enough funding to add actors, stunt people, creatives, writers, special effects, whatever is needed to really produce what most people consider a TV quality experience. How to pick the top 10? That’s a little tougher but should attract an audience (aka, subscribers). First, how much programming needs to be filled out? Of 24 hours, 6 are dedicated to GBTV. The most anyone can reasonably shoot, edit, and produce is probably 30 minutes a week if they’re going to class or have day jobs. At 30 minutes each you need 36 programs per day, 252 programs per week. Contract with 252 creators that over a 3 month period they will produce one 30 minute program each week for 12 weeks with zero dollars in funding. If they miss the production schedule they get dropped from the competition. At the end of the three months the top 10 shows, based on consumer votes, get $25,000 to re-shoot, re-edit and re-publish their shows and to really tell a more in-depth and complete season. Do the same thing for the next three months, and the next. In a year you’ve got 40 shows and you did it for $1,000,000.

Think it’s a crazy idea? The dry run for this has already happened, it’s Kiefer Sutherland’s “The Confession” which ran on HULU for 10 episodes. It was well produced, had a great story and two great actors. And it was never seen on cable TV. That’s where Internet TV has to go in order to attract a mass audience. Which it can do, we just need to foster it along. So in the end, I pay for Glenn Beck but I a whole lot of new programs to watch. Oh, and there’s yet another reality show wrapped up in all of this which seems to attract a lot of viewers still.

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