Should You Pay For Content?

I was listening to a podcast where the hosts were chatting back and forth about the newly offered Hulu Plus, where for $10 dollars a month, you can get Hulu on a wide variety of devices including smart phones and over-the-top Internet TV boxes. Hulu is also offering a somewhat wider, but still incomplete back catalog archive of shows. One of the hosts was saying he wouldn’t pay for content, he wanted it “for free.”

Whether we realize it or not, we are all paying for content, either directly or indirectly. Even if we have only a TV antenna and watch only the local TV channels, we are still paying for content indirectly via advertising. When we buy consumer products of virtually any kind, part of what we pay goes for advertising, which pays for content creation.

If we are paying indirectly only, someone else is deciding for us as to the quality of the programming content. We can either consume that content or not, but we still pay as consumers buying products. We have very little indirect control over what gets put on the air. On the other hand, if we pay for content directly, then we have far greater control over the quality of the media we are consuming.

If Hulu can offer value for the money, then it will succeed What they have to do is figure out what people are willing to pay for. Perhaps that value revolves around putting highly-sought-after content on as many devices as possible. Perhaps it revolves around coming up with the absolute best back catalog of old TV shows. Imagine having instant streaming access to every TV show ever produced in every country in any language, and every movie ever produced anywhere in any language. Something like that would be well worth paying for. Imagine a site such as IMDB.Com that lists every movie and TV show ever made, except as a subscriber you could instantly stream it – now you’re talking. Hulu, anyone else out there – are you listening?

I personally would be willing to pay for a service such as Hulu, except for one small glitch. There are no back catalog shows on the site at the moment that really excite me. Network drama shows can sometimes be quite good, but my tastes are somewhat different.

When I had Dish Network, I was watching a few selected shows on only 3 channels – Discovery, TLC and History. I can get most of these shows if I really want them at some point via Netflix. To my way of thinking, Netflix is a much better value. Netflix has a far wider variety of content, plus they also offer the handy rental service of DVD’s and Blu-ray discs.

The verdict is currently out whether Hulu will be able to figure out what value it needs to best serve its customers. If people are paying Hulu money directly, then Hulu had better quickly figure out exactly what those customers want and do its best to deliver it to them.

Hey Hulu, here’s an idea to try. Offer first-run streaming movies, but do it the Hulu way. I would be willing to pay for a first run movie streaming for a nominal pay-per-view fee, say $5.99. Vudu is offering streaming first run movies, but you have to have a big fat Internet connection to be able to use Vudu. The Vudu service demands way more bandwidth than my Internet service can currently deliver.

Here’s yet another idea for Hulu – offer exclusive, Hulu-only content consisting of well-produced material revolving around the “Entertainment Tonight” type of concept. Do exclusive interviews of movie and TV stars. Do exclusive interviews of directors. Give people real value for their money. Make your customers want to not only see you succeed, but motivate them to help you succeed.

Do Paywalls Ever Make Sense?

PaywallThere was a recent article at Arstechnica.Com describing how The Times in the U.K. ended up cutting its web traffic in half by simply requiring registration so that viewers could read their articles. Prior to this, the articles on the site were freely available. The registration requirement is in anticipation of their future paywall plans.

I have to admit that I’m one of the people who left their site more than once when I clicked on a link and was presented with the registration requirement. I’ve done the same thing on other newspaper sites as well. Will people pay for online news?

At its essence, news is often glorified gossip.

There are plenty of successful paywall sites. Here are three sites that incorporate paywalls that I personally find worthwhile enough subscribe to: Netflix.Com,  Rushlimbaugh.Com and FHU.Com.

Netflix began life as a DVD rental service and most recently added a very popular streaming service as value-added subscriber benefit behind a paywall. The Netflix streaming service helped convince me to sign up and become a customer, as well as the availability of Blu-Ray discs. If Netflix had DVD’s only, I wouldn’t be a subscriber. Streaming and Blu-Ray make me willing to open my wallet.

Rushlimbaugh.Com puts the site’s massive and growing archive behind a paywall that includes access to the Rush Limbaugh podcast version of his radio show where they perform the courtesy of cutting out all of the network ads. Being able to receive the ad-free podcast of the daily Rush Limbaugh radio program is why I subscribe. I rarely sign into the site and go behind the paywall. I want the ad-free daily podcast, so I pay, even though I could get the program for free by listening on the radio.

FHU.Com also puts a massive and growing archive of radio programs, books and video behind a paywall. I want access to this material, and since it’s a charitable organization, I am willing to donate to gain access behind the paywall and support them.

I don’t envision myself ever paying for access to a newspaper website. I have never subscribed to a printed newspaper. I used to subscribe to a number of printed computer, stereo and photography magazines, but somehow that lost its appeal a number of years ago and I let the subscriptions run out.

For a paywall site to be successful, it must have something behind that wall that people want access to. They must offer something of value that revolves around the essence of what they do best.

CyberLink’s 3D Blu-ray PowerDVD CES 2010

CyberLink PowerDVD Ultra with 3D Blu-ray capability is expected in mid 2010. What this means to consumers is that you will be able to watch 3D movies on your laptops.

Personally I question how good that experience will be, only time will tell.
If you are in the market for a new PC, you may want to ask about the capability, especially in high end systems.

Interview by Andy McCaskey @

CES 2010 Content Sponsor: Try GotoAssist Express free for 30 days! The perfect IT Toolbox! For this special offer, visit

Why Blu-Ray is still doomed!

bluraylogoI know there are some good things about Blu-Ray, and have been impressed by the quality I have seen on Blu-Ray movies on a friends PS3.  Those of us skilled at pattern recognition will continue to avoid this doomed platform though.

With the recent announcement that Sony has dropped the UMD standard on the new release of the Playstation Portable (the PSP Go) we get to see yet another example of my oft repeated advice.

Never invest in a Sony controlled data storage medium!

Sony have tried to play in various storage markets before with completely Sony owned technology, and I cannot think of a single one where they eventually triumphed even when they started out technically superior.  To be fair to Sony I do not think they have specifically been bad at maintaining their technology it is simply harder for proprietary technology to keep up with open standards.  This is exagerated when you are working in an OEM environment where your customers are highly motivated to break your monopoly.

Sony used to be able to artificially extend their technologies by having really good equipment and bundling the technology in.  Now with Sony no longer having a quality edge on most of their conpetition it is harder to do.

Beta tape was much better than VHS but eventually was overtaken and disappeared.

DAT (Digital Audio Tape) was an alternative to CD’s which hung around for a long time in professional music circles but never took off in the consumer market.

AIT was a successor to DAT designed for the low end data backup market.  Despite being late to market it was making inroads on the similarly closed source DLT.  Then DLT was open sourced and wiped AIT out.

Minidisc never really made it outside of the Sony umbrella, and very little music was actually released on the format.  Once the other MP3 players moved from CD to hard drive or solid state minidisc died a quick death.

MemoryStick only survives by being the only option on many Sony products.  No other manufacturer uses the product and it is behind in capacity and more expensive.

The dark plastic “CDs” that PS1 games used to come on that even the PS2 struggled to read and ended life before the platform it was designed for.

Now UMD joins the pile of Sony data platforms defunct much quicker than any comparable open standard.  If you have bought content on a specific medium, I think it is reasonable to expect that you will be able to buy a new player for that content for at least the next decade, and that the cost of those players would go down over time.  This has generally be possible with any other standard in the past, but almost never with a Sony platform.

Blu Ray Pricing

I saw where Sony was dropping one of their Blu Ray players down to $300. This will obviously send other companies to slashing their prices as well. There are different opinions on what the price point is where Blu Ray will take over DVD sales. I don’t know if it is $199 or $149 or even as low as $99. One thing that will slow the conquest is the sluggish economy. I am not one of these people who always think the sky is falling but I recognize a slow down when I see it. I am not talking about any stats I see on the “news” or musings by experts. I am basing this totally on people I know in business and others I talk to on a regular basis about it. So a Blu Ray player is something that consumers can do without especially when most own a device that does the same thing but just not as good. Some would argue that people did not wait to buy a HDTV when they had a TV that did the same job just not as good as an HD model. But that boom was a while back when the overall economy was better and people watch a lot more TV than they do DVDs.

I’d like to have a Blu Ray DVD player but I have not even bought an up-converting player yet, even at super low prices. I just have not seen the need for one. We get Netflix so we watch about 3 DVDs per week. Obviously we view enough movies to warrant Blu Ray consumption which I believe is the same price for now on my movie service as standard DVDs. But I just can’t pull the trigger yet even though the picture quality Is phenomenal. With football season starting this weekend that will hold me over for a few more months as I will have plenty to view in HD without worrying about Blu Ray.

GNC-2007-10-05 #306

We have Cherie from the as the guest on the show for the first 15 minutes or so and then and really full show content with some soapbox time as well.

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Listener Links:
Sony Stupidity #1
Cable AlaCarte What If!
Sony Stupidity #2
RIAA Hates its customers
Comet Encke Video
Hepa Filter

Show Notes:
Feds Shut Off CA.Gov Web Sites
First Space Photo
Why Internet Explorer is so Bloated
iPhone Sales tied to Unlocking
RIAA Trial Verdict Bad News
Apple Fanatic
Jobs has sold out to the Telco’s
PGP Whole Disk Encryption Bypass
Sony BMG Head Lawyer makes America Hate Sony
Google Body Slams Verizon
Plastic Shell Shears
WordPress Automatic Update Plugin
Level 3 Slashes Prices
Internet Explorer 7 Update
China Blocks RSS Feeds
Podcaster Awards Coverage
AT&T Content Filtering
Japan Lunar Princess enters Moon Orbit
Leopard Shipping Date this Month
More money for Shuttle
Seven Patches for Patch Tuesday
Copy Protection Issues for Blu-Ray

GNC-2007-08-10 #292

Two major rants tonight: Realistic privacy expectations in new media and signing exclusive podcast advertising contracts. Plus, a lot of great tech news and information.

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Listener Links:
Dorthy iLife08 Video
Metric Conversions
Zune running iPhone Fake or Real
AMIE Street
NYT Lowers some Walls
Amazon Payment system for Developers
HDTV Worth Waiting For
Linspire – Indiana University — Listen to show
Flashlight that makes you throw up

Show Notes:
Spam Blogs
AOL will Kill Digg Clone
Google Deletes Own Blog as Spammer
MAC vs PC in Cost
Circuit City and No Refunds
Oklahoma Students Fight Back
Apple Strategy
iPhone Touch Screen Issues
Ford almost got my vision correct
Sprint + Nokia N800
iMac teardown
Apple Wireless Keyboard
Xbox 360 has HDMI
NASA Asteroid Buster mock up
Vonage Financials
Google Evil News Walled Garden
Be careful Jason!
Endeavor STS-118
Search Engine Privacy Improvements?
Big File Transfer
Hitachi Blu-ray Camcorder
Low Marks on Video Downloads
DRM Stripped from Netflix Movie Stream
Universal Music DRM Free Test

GNC-2007-07-09 #283

Regular show tonight with a guest appearance by my daughter Natalie lots of news as usual.

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My Ustream.TV Listing give it a rating is you get a chance

Listener Links:
Surface Demo
UMPC Reviews
ASUS 701
Microsoft UK Site hacked

Show Notes:
Sprint 1
Sprint 2
Sprint 3
Google Postini
Cell Phone Spying
RSS for TwitterGram
Trillan Astra
WOW Setup
Microsoft Bag
Southwest WiFi
Vista SP1
California Solar Farm
NYC Surveillance
Time & Odeo
Blu-Ray DRM
Bottled Water
Aussie Speed Trap Prank
NASA Lifeform
Apple Nano Based Phone
Open Source Template
iPhone Web Dev

GNC-2007-06-19 #277

Congrats to our two newsletter winners, listen to win tonight. Lots of great content tonight late start here but lots of past show feedback at the end of the show.

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Listener Links:
iPhone Battery Life
Image Technology
My DMOZ Replacement
Poducateme Website

Show Notes:
RIAA – MPAA New Lobby
NBC wants ISP’s to Spy
AT&T $10.00 DSL
Drugs in the Sewage
Email Search Warrant Required
Shuttle Repair and ISS Spacewalks
ISS Computers
Truss Installs
Newspaper Aggregation
Webcam Enhancer
Google Labs
Google Public policy
Shuttle Image
Top 10 Destroy Planet Earth
Blockbuster = Blu-ray
HDMI Switch
Nascar and AT&T
Zune Marketplace Expands
Safari Bashed by Windows Users
Car Buried for 50 Years
100 Legal Free Games
Mac Defrag
Fix Dead Pixels on LCD
Ten Photo Mistakes
Leopard PC Switching
Wash a Keyboard
WordPress Themes
33 Free TV Websites
Digg Effect on Shared Servers
Dell does the right thing!
iPhone not so Sweet
Google Gears of War :)
Ten Second Rule

GNC-2007-01-23 #236

Thanks for the new site Feedback and great show inputs. I talk a little about getting Clearwire here at the house to complement cable.

Upcoming Tech Podcast Round Table

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Listener Links:
MacWorld Photo
Cobert AT&T/Cingular Skit
Julie Amero

Show Notes:
Vista Limited Edition
Vista Content Protection got Slammed
WordPress 2.1
IE7 Loosing Ground
Blu-Ray DRM Cracked
Vista Owned
Windows Genuine
10 Steps
LG BH100 MultiPlayer
Flash Zune Q42007
Wi-Fi Antenna
Mobile Media Picks
DRM Free Music?
Perfomancing DOA
PDF Delivery via RSS
Top Sins of Vista
Computer or Spouse
Storm Worm on the move!
India Space Program
MPAA and Movie Ratings
Top Ten Worst Domains