Tag Archives: IPTV

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

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


*_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.

Choosing Influences

So now that I’ve cut the cord with Dish Network, I’ve started digging deeper into the instant streaming material available on Netflix. It seems that most of the programs I would have watched on Discovery, TLC or History – the three channels I watched 99% of the time — are available as season DVD sets streaming via Netflix.

There are also plenty of season DVD’s of television programs available for streaming that I don’t have any interest in. Now that I’ve cut my Dish Network subscription, I realize that I was paying dearly for their presence even though I had no interest in watching them.

The bottom line is that I can only watch one show at a time. Having 200 plus channels available simultaneously seemed exciting, but the reality is that at least 97% of whatever was on at any given point didn’t appeal to me in any way. It’s crap looking to influence whoever it can reach out and grab.

With audio podcast listening, it allows me to choose my own influences. The IPTV revolution brings that powerful ability to choose my influences to television.

This revelation shouldn’t surprise me, because I’ve been here before. Back in late 2004 when I discovered podcasting, it was exactly what I’d been looking for. I was suddenly able to pick and choose audio content and consume it on my own terms. I could listen to exactly what I wanted, when I wanted to listen to it. Suddenly, instead of being at the mercy of having to listen to what was mostly crap programming on radio stations I happened to be driving by, I was able to turn that huge amount of listening time I had while driving into a tremendous benefit.

Broadcast television has been traditionally viewed as mindless entertainment. Like audio programming, television programming can easily be used in the same beneficial ways. Now that I’m forced to choose what to watch, I realize that what I choose to spend time watching will be much more personally beneficial.

Broadcast television is potentially detrimental and there’s no question in my mind that much of it is hypnotic. If a TV screen is present and turned on most people can’t help but periodically stare at it, even if the sound is turned down.

It has only been a bit over 24 hours since I cancelled my Dish Network subscription, and I’m already over the emotional separation. Who needs all of those less-than-useless channels?

Some of the Lesser Known Internet Video Sources

Since I cut the cable (well, actually the satellite) recently, I have prided myself on finding things to watch (legally) online.  This has lead to something of a quest for bookmarks to add to my Media Center PC.  I also thought that showing what I have found might be of interest to others thinking of doing the same thing.  Although, I must admit, when football season rolls around I WILL be reconnecting (C’mon you MUST have noticed my Firefox theme in the screenshots).

Everyone is familiar with most of the major sources for online video – You Tube, Hulu, Netflix and all of the network sites such as ABC and Comedy Central.  But there are many more sites on the web that fly under the radar of most surfers.  So, I thought I’d take you on a quick tour of three  that I have found.


Crackle is Sony Pictures’ website.  They have many full-length movies, as well as clips of others.  There are also various full-length TV episodes and even some web “originals”.  The video quality is excellent and there is a full-screen option.


Clicker also contains Movies, TV shows and Web Originals as well as throwing in music videos.  To borrow from their own words:

“Clicker is the complete guide to Internet Television. Our mission is to make it simple for you to find the right show, right now. Classic Cinema Online.”

Again, video quality is excellent and full-screen is available.

Classic Cinema Online

Classic Cinema Online is, honestly, not really my cup of tea.  But, there are many of you out there who love the old classic movies and I didn’t want to leave anyone out in this first installment of “TV without the cable”.

This site has hundreds of the old classic movies.  Many of the best ones, actually.  It even includes silent films.  There is supposedly chat, so you can talk to to other people while watching the same movie.  But, I can’t say I have tried, so I will leave that up to you.

Hope everyone found a site here they like, and please post your own finds in the comments.  I am always looking for new sources.

Nuu Media Player IPTV – CES 2010

The NUU Media Player that we found tucked away at CES pretty much blew away my entire team. This IPTV device will have content channels like Hulu, YouTube, Facebook, Boxee, BBC while their website does not yet have a lot of information I was pretty impressed by this media player and cannot wait to get my hands on one.

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Popbox IPTV Media Portal CES 2010

Popbox is bringing to market a new IPTV Media Portal that will bring choice to consumers in content that they can consume on their  home television set. Every device that is brought to the market that gives consumers a choice on how they consume online content empowers content creators to bring new content online worthy of your viewing time. I personally will be ordering one of these devices as soon as they are available to the market place.

CES 2010 Content Sponsor: Try GotoAssist Express free for 30 days! For this special offer, visit GotoAssist.com/techpodcasts