Thursday, September 6, 2007

Vudu Brings Movies to TV

Competition is especially fierce in the download to own or rent for movies. In addition to cable's VOD application to watch movies on demand, entrants like Netflix, Amazon, iTune, and now Vudu. So many choices, how will the consumer choose. I believe the following 8 factors will determine which company emerges the leader:

1. Quality of the content - essentially an HD format to match the popularity of the screen.
2. Ease of use - VERY User Friendly
3. Speed - how fast is the availability of the title and will it start immediately
4. Quantity across genres - not just the most popular, but all types from indie to blockbuster
5. Accessible menus and Ease of search - few clicks and offer recommendations
6. Non-disruptive advertising - enough said
7. Extras - DVD like stuff without the DVD - alternate endings, cut scenes, etc.
7. Ability to copy and share across platforms - TV, pc, iPod, Zune, PSP, etc.

The company that does the best job of delivering the above will emerge victorious.

Web to TV Convergence

Content and distribution are continuing to become a very important topic to me. The convergence of technologies and the choices that are being offered now allow content publishers to use new distribution strategies to reach users. One example, noted in the WSJ article cited is Kylin TV, which is offering Chinese programs via a high speed connection from Neulion to the TV set. Others, like Vudu, are offering access to movies to the TV also through a high speed connection. The long tail of programming choices continues to get longer.

On the other hand, Fox Business News went to the well, negotiating basic cable line-up carriage to gain large distribution access. Whether users switch from CNBC or Bloomberg to taste this new channel and decide to switch or stay loyal to the current business source awaits to be seen. In NY, NBC was able to renegotiate carriage of its properties - CNBC, USA, MSNBC, Sci Fi, and Bravo, to position their channels right next to each other on the teen numbers on the Time Warner NYC line-up. That's the Time Square of positions and must have cost a pretty penny! Pushed into the suburbs, A&E, History, and Discovery. The NBC family, as well as Fox Networks are most likely betting that technology will not change fast enough to enable the user to define their own unique channel line-up for their own home. Cable already allows you to set your favorite channels; hopefully these nets recoup their investment before cable enables the user to set up their line-up to their personal liking!

The ultimate winner remains the pipeline. Cable, and now Verizon FIOS, offer the cable line-up and the high speed line through it. Technology through the cable box or via a cableCARD through the TV set brings more entertainment to the TV screen. NBC is banking on all the distribution possibilities - thru the cable line-up, Amazon, and now Hula. It's all coming together and soon the home won't be able to tell where their programming is coming from, through the line-up or streamed from the web.

But be careful, companies like Comcast or Time Warner that own both the pipeline and content are assuring themselves vertical control of the industry, from content creation all the way to the end user.