Friday, November 15, 2013

Streaming Media Could Add Another Competitor

The streaming media platform for renting and/or buying video content has quickly become a crowded space.  Of course, you have the big players, Apple, Amazon, Google, Hulu Plus, and Netflix.  Retailers like Walmart have Vudu and Target with "Target Ticket" want you to be both their brick and mortar and online source for video consumption.  And of course tons of free streaming video sites as well.  So access to online movies and TV shows for rental and purchase is abundant.  Yet, there is talk of a new entrant.

Cable operator Comcast wants to extend its on demand library of content to streaming and offer its own streaming service for rental and purchase with "plans to start selling movies for download and streaming through the cable operator's set-top boxes and its Xfinity TV website, according to people with knowledge of the plan...The initial offering will include a range of titles from several Hollywood studios that include new releases, older movies and some TV shows, one of the sources said."  Its one advantage, you already have a set top box in the home so no need to buy an Apple TV, blu-ray player, Roku box, TiVo, gaming system, tablet, laptop or other to watch their videos.  Unfortunately for cable operators, most households have more than one of these other boxes.

The article states that this new entrant would "offer a new path for Hollywood studios to generate revenue", but I wonder if cable operators are too late to the game.  Comcast may be considering it, but the other cable operators most likely haven't discussed.  With multiple boxes fighting for the TV shelf and already offering streaming media to compete with cable's on demand services, that window is already wide open.  Certainly adding a new bidder to the streaming rental and download space creates more competition and likely higher bidding for exclusive content, it does not, as the author contends, open a new distribution window.  Still, it is a space that cable operators must enter if they plan to compete with OTT platforms.  

I can see the potential of cable operators offering free download movies to triple play customers, high rental customers, and other incentives to encourage consumers to remain loyal to their cable operator.  A cable streaming service offers great marketing potential when competition is only getting fiercer.  So Comcast Cable and others, what are you waiting for?

Xbox One or PS4

We have a major decision going on in my family.  What gaming system do we get.  As neither is backwards compatible with its predecessor, there is no legacy allegiance to worry about.  And trust me, we have played with them all, Wii, Playstation, Xbox 360.  But with PS4 release today and the Xbox One next week, the urge to buy has been plaguing my son. 

Both are expensive systems, neither are perfect, but he wrestles nightly with which platform to get.  For me, the decision seems an easier one and that is to wait.  Why?  Like any release of a new system, software bugs exist and best to not be the guinea pig.  Also, both platforms have limited content choice for games as neither can use older games.  In fact, I might give an extra push and lean more toward the company that recognizes the ownership of games in their prior system and offers free downloadable versions or discounts for online game upgrades.  And lastly, while my son may want to lead the pack, the social elements of each platform rely on friends also on the platform.  I think he is best to learn which platforms his friends are leaning as well before purchasing a new system. 

There has already been a run on pre-orders of both systems.  Game Stop, Best Buy and others are opening at midnight for an early jump on sales.  And with the holidays peaking around the corner, a new gaming platform and its games make for great gifts.   But what is the rush.  The old platforms are still here and many will stay want to play those old PS3 and Xbox 360 games.  And who knows what discounts might await him in January.  But I can only suggest.  For gamers, young and old, the appeal of new platform, the both in many years for Sony and Microsoft, brings more power and storage, as well as better graphics.  The force may be too great for them to ignore or avoid.