ITV Player Comes To Roku

Roku LogoUntil today, the big absentee from Roku‘s line-up of catch-up services in the UK was ITV and its regional partners STV and UTV in Scotland and Northern Ireland. At #2 in terrestrial broadcasting behind the BBC, it was a fairly glaring omission, especially as Channel 4 and Five have been on-board for ages. Now UK Roku viewers can use ITV Player to catch-up with the last 30 days of ITV’s content across ITV, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV with programmes such as Britain’s Got TalentCoronation Street and The Americans in addition to coverage of this summer’s World Cup and Tour de France sporting events. Hurrah!

Dyyno Video Content Management

Dyyno is one of the new wave of companies that are working with modern video content providers to help help them best monetize their online shows.  Today’s market of video podcasts and IPTV is growing quickly and and makers can have a tough time figuring out how best to distribute, and get paid, for everything they are producing.

Dyyno recently unveiled their support for a whole different round of devices outside of just PC and Mac.  They are now bringing their technology to smart TV’s, iPad’s, and Android devices.  Their list of worldwide content partners is growing quickly and now includes such names as:

Roku
Caribcast
Flix Universe
IPWorldTv
Many more

If you are currently producing video content, or looking to get into this market, then check out the video below to see how this software can help you out, and also visit Dyyno for more info.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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PlayPlay

XBox Turning into Over the Top TV Solution? XBox Live TV Coming…

Xbox TV partners

Xbox TV partners

I watch over a lot in the Over the Top Television space. Internet TV, IPTV, whatever you want to call it, it’s a great way to get watchable content without having a full cable lineup.

Last week, Steve Ballmer announced their TV initiative over XBox Live. Over 40 providers have signed up for this venture, including Comcast, HBO, BBC, Rodgers on Demand (Canada), Televisa (Mexico), and other countries including Germany and Italy (20 in all). Best part, if you already have an XBox 360, you have the hardware to do this.

“Today’s announcement is a major step toward realizing our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “Combining the world’s leading TV and entertainment providers with the power of Kinect for Xbox 360 and the intelligence of Bing voice search will make TV and entertainment more personal, social and effortless.” – Press Release

Add to conventional TV line-up the on-line video providers like Crackle, YouTube, Zune and more. Then there is audio content from Last.fm and iHeartRadio. Finally, Social networks like Twitter and Facebook to round off the service.

The Game System that Became More

Whereas companies like Roku that integrated smaller games like Angry Birds, XBox won’t have that problem. It’s a game system over a TV content distributor. You can play Gears of War, Tweet about it, then watch a video on how to play Gears of War (or another show).

Unified Dashboard in XBox Live

With the unified dashboard (looking similar to the Zune software), you can browse your shows, play the games, work your social networks and more. You will connect to the Comcast Xfinity service to get all that service has to offer.

Getting Rid of the Remote with Kinect

This might be the best part about the XBox TV. By using voice controls and your Kinect, you can gesture to a channel, play, pause and move on. It might get harry if you have more than one person wanting to watch different shows. Still, could you imagine a world without a remote control?

It won’t all be free, though.

Right now, to get HBO Go, you need to have a cable subscription with HBO. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon – especially with channels like HuluPlus. Of course, that is just like many of the OTT systems out there. Pay for a subscription and get the content.

Once again, there could be conflict if you have multiple family members where one wants to play a game and the other wants to watch a movie. So this might not replace a cable box or DVR just yet.

The Xbox Live TV service is expected to come out before the holiday season. The announcement comes before then so you can plan purchasing an XBox 360 or Kinect system for your loved ones to connect up quick. While the OTT solution is more pricey than a Roku or Apple TV, it does do more than just watch video, view pictures or listen to music. It also has some great game titles. It also has a new way to browse through your content.

Kylo A Browser Made for TV

The Kylo Browser was created by Hillcrest Labs. to be used specifically with large screen TV’s. One of the main problems with traditional browsers like Internet Explorer or Firefox is they are not made for a large screen where the viewer is 10 feet or more away. Their fonts are too small and the icons are hard to hit. The Kylo Browser has large fonts and icons which are easier to see from the couch. It also has an on-screen keyboard, so you don’t have to sit with a keyboard on your lap.

The home screen of the Kylo Browser reminds me of a typical cable guide. The difference is that instead of channels you get the icon for Web sites. Hillcrest Labs also developed the technology behind motion-sensing. They used this technology to create The Loop Pointer which is designed specifically to work with a browser on a TV.  The Loop Pointer has four buttons and a scroll wheel and is design to work in the air. Hillcrest Labs has license the motion-sensing technology to major entertainment manufacture, such as Sony, Kodak, Samsung and more.

Although the Loop Pointer is designed to work with the Kylo, you can use any mouse your want. As the line between the TV and the computer continues to blur, we will probably see more and more browsers and devices like Kylo and the Loop Pointer being developed and sold.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News.

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Igugu Internet TV

Mario Cisneros talks about Igugu TV (www.igugu.com), a hardware and software combination that turns your existing Windows-based computer into a TV set top box enabling you to easily get over-the-top television content from your computer to your flat panel television.

Igugu has three kit offerings, including $99 dollars for the remote control unit and software, $129 for the remote control unit, software, and miscellaneous wiring kit, and $249 for a wireless version.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Lookee TV Desktop WiFi Internet TV & Radio Player

Ted Aguirre talks about the three models of Lookee TV (www.lookeetv.com), a table-top model, a portable model, and a set-top box model that connects to a TV. Lookee TV devices retail for about $150 and are available right now. Lookee TV receives over 30,000 streaming radio stations and over 1,000 streaming TV channels. The company maintains its own strategically-located international content servers. All the content carried on the Lookee TV devices is free. Lookee TV devices are especially useful for international travelers who want to watch foreign television content or listen to streaming radio from other countries.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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What Can netTALK TV Deliver?

The netTALK company, known in the past for low-cost phone service, has unveiled it’s netTALK TV at CES.  And they are making some big claims for it, which, if delivered, would be a huge deal in the media market.  They claim:

an ultra-low cost digital TV solution to address an over-priced, underwhelming cable TV market

They want to replace your cable company with a la carte channels provided through netTALK.  That’s something that people have talking about for a while now – the ability pick and choose only those channels you want and not have pay for a package that contains a bunch channels you will never watch.

It will work by combining with existing DUO, a product that provides telephone service of an internet connection.  When the two devices are combined they provide both telephone and TV over you internet connection.  The box provides standard and high-definition TV with HDMI Out, S Video Out, Composite Video, Ethernet and WiFi.

They are shooting for Q3 2011 release and no prices are available yet.  But, I have some serious questions about how they plan to pull this off.  There seems to be lots of promises and little about details.  Content deals with the TV networks seem far-fetched at this point.  They are only marginally more interested in a-la-carte than cable providers are.  After these big network companies own multiple channels and they know that some of them are unpopular, but they force providers to carry all of them or risk losing the big ones that users want.  So, we shall see what is delivered later this year.

HuluPlus Activated on Roku for $7.99 – Should Netflix be Scared?

Roku

Roku Player

Editors Note – As Blake pointed out, there is a 1 DVD + online movie plan for $8.99.

The wait is over…

Roku announced today that Hulu Plus is now available to watch as an application. You can try the service free for one week, but thereafter, for $7.99 a month, you can watch network television run shows within 12 hours of airing. You can also watch movies and other content that Hulu is publishing.

The $7.99 price also means it undercuts Netflix’s 2 DVD + streaming price by half. Netflix does offer 1 DVD and online movie subscription only for $8.99. Still, Netflix’s big advantage is their movies and TV shows come without commercial interruption and won’t edit for content.

The $17 combination might be a great duo to finally cut that cable TV cord.

Hulu Plus

Hulu Plus

Hulu Plus will start to show up on other platforms, like PS3 and XBox360 very soon. Of course, you can get it on your computer right now.

First Thoughts: Like I said in the review, Hulu Plus does have commercials. However, I can catch up on season shows like Glee and Grey’s Anatomy.

The one thing I am not too keen with Roku is their cataloging system. It would be nice to have a keyboard and a search option. However, I can go on the computer, type in the show I want to watch, then queue it up to play on the Roku.

I was really hoping the TV show “Sons of Anarchy” would be more up to date. However, restrictions only allow it to be seen via the computer. In fact, there are a few shows that are “Web Only”.

If I back out of a show, then go back in, I start from the beginning. Forwarding back to the spot I was at is a little choppy.

On the other hand, Netflix has their own limitations. If you want to watch the Starz channel, you have to switch over to a computer with Internet Explorer installed. Their search is almost non-existent. Once again, you can go to the computer to put shows in your queue, then watch on Roku.

At $59.99, the Roku is the cheapest option for IPTV. With $7.99 for Hulu Plus and $14.99 for Netflix, you might be able to justify cutting the cable cord and beef up your internet connection.  Not to mention the original programming from independent content creators.

Is IVI.TV Legal?

Recently, on the Geek News central Podcast, #610, Todd introduced us to ivi.tv, and also asked if it was legal.  I was intrigued by the prospect, being someone who dumps his DirecTV subscription between football seasons.  So, I decided to take a longer look at both it’s capability and it’s legality, and here is what I have found.

The simplest answer is that we don’t know.  Apparently it’s going to be up to a court to decide.

But, before I get into all of that, let me explain exactly what IVI is doing.

It’s compatible with all three major platforms – Windows, Mac, and Linux.  They have keyboard controls and hotkey options, and there’s a free 30 day trial.  After the trial it’s $4.99 per month and an additional $0.99 for DVR capability.

Their broadcasts are, currently, limited.  They are mirroring certain channels in 2 markets – New York City and Seattle.  Their website states that they plan to enter other markets, but there’s no mention of which ones they are looking at.  The channels are, mostly standard broadcast at this point  – CBS, NBC, Fox, and ABC; along with cable networks such as The CW, Universal Sports, and Univision.

When I say they are mirroring, I mean they are literally rebroadcasting these channels 24-7.  There is a guide on their website that you can page through to see what is on all of the available channels.

That’s the basics of how it works.  Now let’s get to the important part – the legality issues.

In a nutshell, IVI.TV says they are legal (per the CEO) and the broadcast community says they are not.  That sounds simple, since in the past, these types of disputes have been overwhelmingly in favor of the content producers.  But, in this case, it’s the copyright act itself that may be in dispute.

The monthly fee, which IVI charges, goes towards paying the networks.  And, here’s what the IVI CEO had to say:

“The Copyright Act expressly authorizes secondary transmissions of works embodied in primary transmissions.  For example, the Copyright Act expressly the secondary transmission of an original television broadcast where the secondary is subject to a statutory license. Under Section 111 of the Copyright Act, statutory licensing fees are paid periodically to the Register of Copyrights in accordance with an established scale and schedule. Section 111 further provides that the secondary transmission of an over-the-air primary transmission is not an infringement of copyrights in the works contained in the primary transmission.”

The NAB disagrees, and has filed suit No one has sued ivi. IVI are suing the broadcasters preemptively.  For now, IVI will continue to broadcast and wait for the matter to be sorted out by the courts.  I have my doubts about it’s legality, but if they pay the broadcasters/networks then it may be an interesting battle.  After all, they are selling their shows through such places as iTunes and Amazon, as well as offering them for free streaming on their own websites and such places as Hulu.  The money may talk.  I guess we’ll see, but it could take quite a while.

UPDATE: I received this email after this article posted.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) attacked ivi TV today in response to its Complaint for Declaratory Judgment of Copyright Noninfringement filed yesterday in Federal Court. Unfortunately, they had no relevant legal claims to make other than to attempt to smear ivi TV’s innovative approach, which aims to help content owners recognize new revenue streams and increase broadcast viewership. This is clearly a David v. Goliath attempt to crush technology and consumers’ choice.

Please contact me via reply email if you wish to set up an interview with the CEO. Thank you!

Best, Hal

*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*

*_ivi TV Statement In Response to NAB_*

Seattle (September 21, 2010) — ivi TV issed a statement of facts today in response to NAB’s earlier statements regarding ivi TV’s recent Complaint filed in Federal Court.

Commenting on the development, ivi TV CEO Todd Weaver said:

“We understand the NAB’s point of view and welcome this opportunity to enlighten them.  ivi TV (ivi, Inc.,) filed a lawsuit, because we were wrongly accused of copyright infringement, an accusation disruptive to our business. We needed resolution of these issues right away. We believe the copyright claims are unsubstantiated and are really just camouflage for trying to stifle innovation and competition. Furthermore, we pay broadcasters in accordance with the law, just like cable.

This is not about copyright, this is about competition.  Congress created the compulsory licensing scheme for cable systems, to distribute broadcast content to the masses. We intend to increase viewer numbers and would welcome opportunities to work with the Broadcasters.

Broadcasters fought against cable companies, then joined them. Broadcasters then fought against satellite companies, then joined them. Now it is our turn. History has a habit of repeating itself — and it is unfortunate they cannot learn from that and realize we strongly support broadcasters and their program suppliers helping them monetize, increase their eyeballs, and ultimately get paid.

The iCraveTV litigation referenced by the NAB is hardly precedential, as no decision on the merits was ever reached.  Further, it involved different circumstances, including augmenting broadcast content with advertisements.  ivi TV, on the other hand, is making the primary content available as is without any modification.”

Link to previous press release announcing the Complaint and copies of the Complaint together with supporting documents may be found here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/09/prweb4542434.htm

*About ivi*

ivi TV™ endeavors to make the world a better place by providing a high-quality viewing experience while offering consumers what they want in the way they want it, with more choices, less hardware, and higher standards than other modes of online content delivery. At the same time, ivi TV increases eyeballs for channels and advertisers, continuing and adding to the live television tradition in an innovative and sustainable manner. Consumers, broadcasters and advertisers alike will agree that live television, most notably sports and news programming, is here to stay. The solution is ivi TV. And the time is now. ivi, Inc., is based in Seattle. For more information, please visit http://www.ivi.tv <http://www.ivi.tv/>.

OTT And Paid Content

OTT, short for “over-the-top-television” is an up-and-coming acronym that we are all likely going to become familiar with in the near future, provided someone doesn’t come up with a different marketing name. The concept is simple – it’s TV that comes “over the top” of traditional channels on a cable system via the Internet delivered in digital packets. It can either be live streaming video, on-demand streaming video, or in the form of a pre-recorded on-demand podcast.

There are many aspects of over-the-top TV that have yet to be shaken out. Specifically, here in the early stages there are some still-murky areas when it comes to details of how advertising is going to work.

Things that we know about how OTT works successfully so far:

People are willing to pay for bundled on-demand professionally created OTT content in the form of Netflix on-demand streaming of movies, TV shows, and other content. The bundled Netflix price for all-you-can-eat on-demand streaming OTT offers the consumer a real value. In most cases, a great deal of marketing money and effort has been spent promoting the majority of individual movies and other content that are available on Netflix, so the consumer has a fairly high degree of familiarity with much of the on-demand streaming content they offer. These are essentially repurposed movies that are already on the shelf.

People are willing to watch on-demand streaming OTT of professionally-created content with embedded ads as demonstrated by the ongoing success of Hulu.Com. The consumer is likely already familiar with a portion of the content, but Hulu also allows the consumer to discover and explore previously unknown TV show content in an on-demand stream with embedded ads. These are essentially repurposed TV shows, some movies, and other content.

Live streaming OTT of live content is still catching on. The most successful live OTT content as typified by what Leo Laporte and company are generating still offers an on-demand podcast version that can be downloaded later. Currently, on-demand, after-the-fact podcast versions of live OTT generated content end up with many more downloads than people watching via live streams. Both live streaming OTT and the on-demand podcast versions can contain ads. For the ads to be effective in this format, they need to be relevant to the audience’s needs and desires. The old “shotgun” advertising approach does not work in this format. This specific type of content is closely associated with word-of-mouth promotion.

There are a few questions that remain to be answered. Will consumers pay for on-demand streaming of TV drama-type content they are unfamiliar with — in other words, will consumers pay to watch an on-demand stream of a new TV show drama, documentary or reality show? Using myself as a gage, I wouldn’t pay for individual on-demand episodes of a TV show or movie I wasn’t fairly familiar with. Promotion and word-of-mouth still has to take place.

If consumers will pay-per-view for an unfamiliar on-demand TV show, can the content still contain ads? I think the answer to this depends on the content and its perceived value – i.e., how well it is promoted, and the resulting perceived value that is generated in the potential consumer.

Once “Lost” was a hit TV show, would the fanatic fans have paid for on-demand streams of new episodes? Probably they would have, if they could have gotten them, say a week or so in advance of the actual broadcasts. “Lost” fans would have also put up with ads in the advance on-demand stream. They might have grumbled about it, but if that were the only way it was available in advance, many of them would have opened-up their wallets and paid the price monetarily and with their attention to the embedded ads in order to satisfy their “Lost” habit. Clearly, the producers of “Lost” – ahem – “lost out” on a time-sensitive revenue stream opportunity.

Bottom line, I believe it all revolves around the content and the real and perceived values that the content delivers.

I liked last season’s remake of the old “V” television series. If I could be assured the production values remained just as high, I might pay to subscribe in some manner. If the “V” series is picked up again by ABC next season, I would also pay to subscribe if I could get episodes via on-demand streaming before they were broadcast.

In the meantime, we are still dealing with the death-throws of the old broadcast model with its old appointment based viewing schedule combined with the old shotgun advertising approach. ABC broadcast TV affiliates would have had a cow if “Lost” episodes had been made available as a paid on-demand OTT stream before the episodes were actually broadcast via the network.

The final destination of OTT and when it ends up at that destination depends on what is right for the time. Both delivery infrastructure capabilities and consumer demand will make that determination.