DVD Insider #47

– IPTV – The New Content Opportunity
– Citizen Videographers
– Home-Wide Entertainment
– Getting Closer Personalizing Entertainment

Calrad HDTV Accessories

The Internet changed everything. It changed the way we work together. The way we work with friends and family. The way we get our news and information. It is slowly changing the way many of us will get our entertainment.

It also offers an opportunity for content developers – music and video – to express themselves, reach an audience interested in their content enough to buy it and perhaps even attract a large enough audience to make a living.

While it is true that the RIAA aggressively sues any site that even looks like people are sharing their content, they find it difficult to go after sites that promote and support independent musicians. The MPAA is closely watching the new video sites that are emerging to ensure none of their content isn’t shared on the open market.

Suddenly, hundreds of thousands of videographers around the globe are beginning to see that a new era is beginning that can get their stuff shown without having to grovel at Hollywood’s or the networks’ doors. Will they get Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane, Forest Gump, Top Gun, Friends or All in the Family rich and famous?

Probably not. But if you attract even 10+ fans in one million people on the planet to pay a buck or two to download your show or get hooked on your Inet series…that’s a pretty big number!

After all there are there are thousands of folks in the creative capitals of the world paying their union dues and busing tables waiting for a call from the production/distribution house so taking control of your own destiny isn’t such a bad thing.

Video over the Internet is here…just ask Viacom, Yahoo and others. Millions of video clips – online ads, show previews and other video content is being downloaded and viewed all of the time. Web video publishing tools are widely and economically available. If you don’t want to launch your own web video delivery, there are distributors like Brightcove, ManiaTV, ChannelBlast, Scripps, Blinkx and others available to handle the burden.

Since we’re an avid diver we got interested when we read about being able to watch segments on our PC from Eco-Nova and after visiting shipwreckcentral.com. If you can’t dive all the time, at least you can watch videos and even some live feeds of underwater exploration? Too cool!

Ok so maybe they will only attract three – four hundred thousand subscribers but multiply that by one – two dollars a month and that’s a decent chunk of change !!!

String together enough shows, movies and videos that are of interest to you and you could easily abandon your cable company and never miss missing a segment of Desperate Housewives or Lost.

Face it. T.S. Eliot was right when he said, “Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.”

You Aren’t Alone

Of course just as we have a mob of citizen journalists, every hack and weirdo with a camcorder will have the same idea of instant riches or will use the video-enabled Internet to make his/her political or apolitical statement.

But that is the marvel of IPTV. It may be bad but you won’t sit through 3-4 minutes of ads to watch a reality show. You can watch bad reality free of commercials.

With the global adoption of DVB (Digital Video Broadcast) standards for 95% of the global market (Figure 1), Intel and Microsoft are more than ready to serve a market that is just beginning.

The move is being streamlined by the wired and wireless organizations around the globe that are moving from dial-up to broadband connection which meet the needs of video downloads (Figure 2). Consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet for music downloads, photo exchange, information and even purchases. The FCC reported that in 2003 approximately 23 percent of the U.S. households had broadband capabilities in their homes and by 2008 broadband penetration would grow to 56.3 percent.

In Forrester Research’s study this year of CE and Internet access they found that Internet users watch just 12 hours of TV per week compared to 14 hours of those who are offline. Industry analysts are confident that these people using their connection for all of their entertainment as products become more widely available, easier to install/use and more economical.

That seems to be where Intel and Microsoft are placing their bets.

Real-world implementation and availability is only just beginning as services rollout and WLAN devices begin to appear (Figure 3). But the momentum and potential is undeniable. According to IDC we are already paying for many of these services-internet access, pay-TV service, content downloads – so bringing them together in a single source service is not a huge leap of faith.

According to Lyra Research nearly half of all TV viewing in a DVR household is time-shifted so that people watch their shows on their time already. It is relatively easy to see IPTV changing some of the viewing habits from timeshifted TV to niche programming to network-based DVR to my TV.

Thanks to digital media infrastructure initiatives such as UPnP (universal plug and play) and DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) the task of bringing the devices together is getting easier. We didn’t say easy but easier.

Households are making the transition because so much of their content – family and individual – is digital. Most people whether photos are taken with a digital camera or camphone store their photos (and view them) on their computer. They play individual and multi-player games on their systems. They store their family and personal videos on the PC. They download their music or listen to Internet radio.

Home Hubs

As a result the growth of media hubs and media servers (much to the delight of the hard drive folks) is forecast to increase more than 200 percent over the next five years. Rather than have duplicate copies on every system in the house, people want to centralize their content. To meet the demand every system manufacturer is offering converged device capabilities in one way, shape or form (Figure 4).

With a wired or wireless media hub they can store their content, play DVDs and videos, download content, record TV shows and movies and more. According to the Diffusion Group, home network penetration in the U.S. was 17 percent last year and will increase to more than 67 percent by 2010. Japan is close behind with 16 percent in 2004 but will surpass the U.S. with 76 percent penetration by 2010. Germany which only has about 2 percent home network penetration at the present which is expect to increase to 35 percent by 2010.

The stumbling blocks to acceptance and implementation isn’t the availability of the technology because people are worried about the compatibility and interoperability issues, are certain that there will be little or no after-sales support (surprise!) and the industry doesn’t make it easy to buy the right hardware/software. Every manufacturer offers the solution and when it comes to discussing how these solutions work with others it is laissez-faire!

Things are getting better but we still have a long way to go…

While people seem to be intent on their do-it-all devices like photo/Internet/IM/email/photo/video cellphones, folks aren’t abandoning their notebook computers. In fact demand is increasing to the point where sales have surpassed desktop systems. It is only natural then that they would want their all-content systems to enable them to tap into their TV programs.

Tuners that allow notebook users to tap into their favorite programs (Figure 5). Because high definition TV content is available through-the-air, firms like ADS Tech are planning to introduce TV tuners for notebooks this next year to give people quality viewing everywhere.

Over Protection

Playing nice with the huge content owners – Hollywood and the networks – all of the PC and CE manufacturers are stressing the importance of robust content protection (DRM software). The stuff works so well home and on-the-road devices can’t share the content. It may work so well in the future that their audiences simply ignore them for IPTV content which presently is providing “good enough” content protection.

Going back to our diving videos we discussed earlier, the content isn’t of interest to everyone in the world. While the kids like diving, it isn’t something that thrills the wife and in that truth not a lot of people we work with so making copies and sharing seems more work than it is worth. In fact if the sites attracted only three million viewers (note networks have long since dropped shows with ratings that low) the owners would probably be ecstatic!

Chip away three million here and three million in each state and province around the globe and you’re talking a serious drop-off in standard TV pabulum.

As industry analyst Rob Enderle recently pointed out blogs and citizen journalists have had a decided impact on news services. It’s a very real possibility that independent and personal/family video content that has little or no DRM could replace our standard entertainment fare.

It’s really going to suck if they get all the protection they want but no one comes to watch!!!

They really aren’t going to worry because even at $200, there are millions of folks around the globe who don’t see a reason to buy a PC or simply find them too difficult/too complicated to use.

But don’t worry…Vista is almost here.

DVD Insider #48

– The War of the Worlds
– Declining View of High Def
– Remember the Alamo
– The Book of Five Rings, The Art of War

Spielberg’s remake of H.G. Wells SciFi, The War of the Worlds, was a real thriller for some but you knew in the end Cruise and “we” would triumph.

If only the business world specifically the content world — could be that simple. But the moment content went digital the world changed. Blame Sony and Philips when they talked us into enjoying the benefits of the innocent looking CD.

Suddenly everyone wanted a piece of the action. Recently even the Tellywood (a name coined by Bob Frankenston of electronic spreadsheet fame) unions have demanded their share of mobile video action. They have no idea what it is but it smells like money…somewhere.

Over the past few years what started out as a simple skirmish for blue laser dominance has spread faster than global warming.

Seems as though consumers want more than the warlords had bargained for. People want their digital content at home and want to stream it throughout the house. They want their little music, audio and video players so they can be entertained on the train, in the plane, in class, in meetings.

Damn greedy people they want their content their way, when/where they want it…and they don’t expect to pay for it more than once (ok some expect it to be free).

The Importance of High Definition

The whole premise behind the blue laser firefight is that high definition video at home is only possible throwing more video pixels at your new HDTV set. But… Have you really seen HDTV? Is that much better?

Sure you’re a techie and you have but what about real people? Can they tell the difference? Go to any big box store and ask one of the clerks to show you HDTV and explain the difference to you…lotsa luck!!!

This year In-Stat estimates there will be more than 15.5 million HDTV sets in homes around the globe and by 2009 that number will jump to 52 million.


However, there are about 6.5 billion people (Figure 1) on this orb so 52 million looks pretty puny. In the U.S. there are nearly 80 million baby boomers (born 1946 – 1964) and 10,000 turn 50 every day (we’re just slightly North of that ourselves). Worldwide baby boomers plus the over 65 crowd is about 420 million prospective HDTV viewers.


These potential HDTV buyers have one thing in common. They have bad eyes!!!

Cripes we could tell them SD was HD and they couldn’t tell the difference. So what’s all the fuss about? Oh yes…the royalties.

Battle Lines Are Blurred

With all the action going on behind the curtains negotiating alliances, special deals, new battle plan restrictions and guidelines and hidden agendas; we watch “breathlessly” as the Blu-ray and HD DVD debaters tell us why they are superior and why they will win.

While BD burners are silently shipped to software producers in preparation for the huge demand (if you can call $1,000 for a player huge), the HD DVD combatants took their show on the road.

First stop?

A beachhead advance in San Antonio, TX. Now we have enjoyed visiting San Antonio and have the highest regard for most of Texas but a San Antonio kick-off?

Remember San Antonio’s history?

Right !!!

The Alamo !!!!

Probably not the most auspicious starting point.

While the tradeshow and news release hubris goes on giving the media something to report, only one thing stands between the prideful warriors and content delivery peace. It isn’t even a silly millimeter. It’s .5mm (Figure 2) or whether the content will be written near the surface of the disc or in the middle.

That difference is worth a lot of $$$$. It has divided communities, pit neighbor against neighbor, father against son. It is a big reason most folks will sit this out until the war has ended.

It only took seven years for today’s DVD technology introduced in 1996 — to reach mainstream adoption. Next generation was “announced” in 1998. It still looks like a two-year campaign before one reigns supreme. That’s fine with Tellywood. They still have a lot of strategic/tactical work to do to give people their content…without giving it to them.

Your vision of the perfect world is that you enjoy your content anywhere, anytime on anything (Figure 3). The Tellywood vision is a fortress around their content or airport security gates at both ends of your flight.

Want to watch the content at the theater? Buy a ticket? Want it in your living room? Buy a ticket? Want to watch it in two rooms? Two tickets? Video iPod? Back to the ticket counter?

The best Tellywood DRM (digital rights management) scenario is to keep the pirate flag (Figure 4) flying…forever! Even if it is a backup copy of legal content Tellywood’s objective is to protect the consumer from him/herself.

A few members of the music industry have taken a more enlightened route by saying you can make a few copies of your content but doing four (Figure 5), that’s crossing the line.

That’s a reasonable compromise…assuming it leaves nothing behind and does no harm!!!

After all you are bringing content into the most dangerous place in the world your home. Kids can destroy anything!

That frees up their mercenaries (lawyers) to focus all of their legal armament on the renegades who are pillaging the content countryside. Beats the heck out of today’s scorched earth approach.

Learn From History

If the BD and HD camps had known they were going to enter into an all-out conflict, they should have taken hints from two proven warriors.

Miyamoto Musashi’s The Book of Five Rings and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War have been the bibles of warriors (military, legal, business) for centuries. Musashi had a simple no-nonsense approach…cut down one’s opponents. His key to winning and he had to be pretty good because he died of old age was surprising the enemy, use innovative techniques, knowing the rhythm of the situation and acting appropriately.

Sun Tzu had a different philosophy…all war is based on deception. He felt that it was of supreme importance in conflict to attack the enemy’s strategy. He warned that strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory but tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

That has been translated, interpreted and used for almost every circumstance…including marriage!

While the BD camp has given up a little ground in the area of content protection/security. The HD camp is hailing it as a victory. But as Douglas MacArthur said, “We are not retreating we are just advancing in another direction.”

Will BD ultimately win and be the “standard of choice?”

Sure…probably. But ultimately you’ll see some of the components included as peace is made.

The BD folks after all are Samurai seasoned by technical battles.

Is BD better than HD?

Who cares?

Sony’s Beta format may have been better but Panasonic’s VHS format swept the lands. Panasonic’s PD and DVD-RAM technologies may have been better than DVD+/-RW but…

The PC and CE industry is littered with better technology.

As BD warlords make deals to win friends and enemies the royalties become less important than bragging rights. They have tasted victory and defeat.

That makes them formidable Samuri!

In the interest of clarity, we don’t wield a Katana or Wakizashi in either hand.

We see the battle’s conclusion in terms of George S. Patton’s observation, “Untutored courage is useless in the face of educated bullets.”

The BD camp’s battle plan for the high definition package media of tomorrow (Figure 6) will slip past next year. No one realistically sees it being significant until at least 2009-2010 (Figure 7).

SDTVs will have to be turned off. HDTVs turned on. There are a lot of Tellywood DRM skirmishes to be fought over the consumers’ use of their content.

How long will it take a 15-year-old to pick the chastity belt lock of Ms. Content and what will Tellywood do in response?

Between now and then, millions of baby boomers + will buy dirt cheap DVD burners and recorders along with very inexpensive DVD media to save family moments/memories, copy IPTV content, timeshift/archive their TV shows. They will watch all of this on their HDTV-ready sets through weaker and weaker eyes.

If the Tellywood DRM is too difficult to navigate they may stick with the free or simple DRM content to enjoy. Consumers may be so comfortable with their bad habits moving to high definition discs may be very SSSSLLLLOOOOWWWW.

Or as Wayne Dyer said, “Conflict cannot survive without your participation.”