This week The Verge are running a large feature on the future of TV, and the war for distribution of content. Articles include reviews of current VOD hardware, often dragged down by patchy software, to visionary interviews by CEO’s claiming to want to democratise, but surely aiming to be the next Rupert Murdoch.
My thoughts are that nobody has cracked it yet, and I believe this is down to software engineers not being lovers of TV. When I watch a show on Apple TV, the show finishes and it takes me back to the synopses of the episode I just watched, instead of pushing me to the next ep, you realise this is software written by someone with no love for bingeing on TV for hours on end.
When you can’t actually navigate 4OD on a PS3 properly with the bluetooth remote, it reminds you that the person who coded the app never sat back and tried to watch two episodes of Peep Show in a row.
Even the idea of throwing youtube to your TV with the new app via airplay mirroring can’t be done for more than a few minutes without your iPhone reaching epic new temperature highs.
What I’m saying is that software engineers at the big players need a dose of reality. They need to sit down with the common man and observe his TV watching habits. They only need tweaking. The best interface I have come across is Netflix on a PS3. You get the basic information, if you don’t touch the remote it will keep loading up episode after episode, and it does what all good interfaces do, puts as few layers as possible between you and your favourite programs.
Stop trying to complicate things, more people will buy your product, and one day very soon we will look back at the quaint 30 year period where we all fitted satellites to the side of our houses to access 500 channels.
As a side note, I think there is enough interest in the future of television to start a dedicated website. What say you, Joshua Topolsky?
Don’t miss the War for TV on The Verge right now.
Ironically, it started with Apple removing their old, old Youtube app from the iPhone, in the hope of ridding Google and their information gathering ways from iOS.
The problem was, everybody immediately went to the app store and downloaded Google’s shiny new Youtube app, and if their experience was anything like mine discovered a whole new world of delights.
I subscribed to a few channels, added email notifications for when new shows have been uploaded to the feed. and I tell you, it really works. The way in which Google have funded some channels has allowed for some high quality, compelling content.
and that segues neatly into today’s news that ABC will be airing a show that started as a Youtube funded original production. Recipe Rehab is cooking show that will expand to 30 mins for broadcast.
Everyday Health Inc., which launched the healthy-cooking series “Recipe Rehab” in April on its YouTube “channel,” said it is making longer, 30-minute episodes of the show, which will appear on nearly all stations affiliated with Walt Disney Co.’s ABC.
Although Google will be losing the exclusivity of this show, they can be proud that their funding has led to a wider audience watching some quite niche content.
The Guardian has a story about the return of Breaking Bad, and how to avoid spoilers should you choose not to watch it live:
Sometime around mid-May, when television aficionados had to choose between Game of Thrones and Mad Men – two very different shows whose viewers made for a surprisingly overlapping Venn diagram – the conversation briefly became less about the shows themselves and more about how we were watching them. What were you watching live, and what were you streaming later? Did you have an HBO Go login (or, be honest, borrow a friend’s)? Did you stream, did you pay, did you Torrent, did you YouTube? Did you spread it out over the following week? Sunday night television was and is a feast, and it’s up to us how we order the courses.
One day all English speaking territories will watch the debut of a new AMC drama on an AMC app on your smart TV at the same time, and the worldwide ratings will be published proudly the next morning by the broadcaster. One day.
An unexpected story from Paid content about Hulu co-producing the fourth series of The Thick of It with the BBC.
“We’re really excited to give U.S. audiences a chance to catch up with all previous episodes, and as series co-producers for season four, we are proud to make full seasons of this distinctive and smart show available exclusively to Hulu viewers,” said Hulu Senior VP of Content Andy Forssell, in a statement.
With this deal, Netflix involved in the production of Arrested Development and Amazon Studios commissioning content specifically for their video services (and maybe Lovefilm?), the content pipeline futures are looking rosy for the biggest video on demand players.
Now TV (“powered” by Sky) launches tomorrow. The service offers contract free TV through almost any device you can think of.
A few commentators have reported that it is BskyB’s answer to Lovefilm and Netflix, but I think that is an oversimplication.
While it will compete with those services, under a brand name that doesn’t come with any baggage, so allowing Sky to try some new things (lower prices? No.), I believe Sky’s main driver for this service will be to eventually migrate people from their non-HD satellite services.
It must be pretty pricey keeping satellites in orbit for people to watch The Food Network, when there is the alternative of using other providers broadband bandwidth. This service will eventually allow them to charge a slightly lower price, while allowing them to one day relieve themselves of the massive infrastructure costs behind satellite television.
£15 for the movie pass is a tough sell although I imagine that the price will fall in time, but the proposition looks good for a number of demographics in the UK. It will be interesting to see the take up.
Hunter Walk over at Google has a fantastic theory about where viewers are finding the hours in the day to watch Netflix and Youtube.
People watch five hours of TV a day, and you can generally break it down into three categories. The first category is must-see TV, which makes up hour one. Then there’s “nice to see” TV, which makes up hours two and three. And then there’s basically filler — people just sort of hanging out with the TV on, but not really totally engaged.
For now, YouTube and Netflix are focused on hours four and five, just chipping away at the fringes of what people watch. And they’re apparently succeeding, as anyone looking at their growth metrics will be able to recognize. It’s when they start getting into hours two and three that the whole thing gets really interesting.
The article I have taken this from goes on to theorise that Netflix and Youtube among others are like the cable industry in the 80’s, primed to make an original programming swoop and take up more viewing time. My only problem with this, as always, is discovery. People won’t watch new content in a vacuum, and besides word of mouth, these platforms don’t have the marketing budgets to draw people in. I know this will change in time, it’s just a matter of when.
The long delayed Youview launched yesterday to a mixed reaction on both sides of the atlantic. Here in the UK the price of the box was questioned, and I have to say (without knowing component prices) that it would have been far better for all concerned if they had managed to get it to retail for under £200.
Over in the US the timing was questioned, and whether it was still relevant in the era of the Smart TV, and the $99/£99 boxes that do all the catchup you desire.
Personally I think it’s late, nothing can be done about that, but there is a world outside the tech blogosphere that doesn’t know it was coming, so it’s not late to them. This large set of consumers don’t want to pay monthly for TV, but they would like an easier way of watching yesterdays/last weeks/last years shows.
I haven’t seen the Youview EPG/Guide up close, but I’m assuming it does that at the very least, and as the price comes down I imagine they will have a replacement for Freeview.
The UK is great adopting tech like this if the proposition is right, so let’s hope the marketing team at Youview don’t mess up what could be a fantastic platform for the future for British Television.
Great bit of research showing what people get up to on their tablets while they are watching TV at home.
The data isn’t terribly surprising: email is the top activity, men check sports scores more than women, women are slightly more interested in deals and coupons, and younger users are more inclined to use social media while watching TV. (Unfortunately, the data doesn’t break down the amount of social activity that’s tied to the broadcast — that would be a great study to do.)
It doesn’t say how many people are watching a different program on their tablet device!