Get Ready for Cable Wars

This is a really interesting article that highlights the disruptive nature of online content. We’re going to see more of this as the web continues to mainstream as a video distribution platform that upends broadcast and cable broadband.

During the negotiations, Time Warner Cable threatened to make it easier for its subscribers to connect laptop computers to their televisions so that Viacom shows could stream directly onto subscribers’ televisions. The cable company also argued that it shouldn’t have to pay more to distribute shows that Viacom made available free in other media. At one point, it looked as if Viacom might have escalated by trying to block Time Warner Cable broadband subscribers from accessing its Web sites to see its shows.

[From Opinion: Consumer Choice Saves ‘Dora’ –]

Blu-ray Format Struggles

Here’s the problem, I can keep my old DVD player (which upconverts and actually has a pretty nice presentation) while using iTunes or Netflix’s download service to bring HD movies to my laptop which can then play through to my display. I don’t need a Blu-ray player to get HD video for movies.

“The Blu-ray format is in jeopardy simply because the advent of downloadable HD movies is so close,” said Roger L. Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates. a research and consulting company. “Streaming video from the Internet and other means of direct digital delivery are going to put optical formats out of business entirely over the next few years.”

[From Blu-ray Format Struggles With Uncertain Prospects –]

I wrote a post in 2006 making the same point that downloadable movies would prevent Blu ray from ever achieving critical mass. Through pricing, say in the sub $150 range, it is entirely possible that Blu ray could shift DVD buyers to Blu ray as a substitution buy because you can still play DVD discs in a Blu ray player, but broadly speaking Blu ray will never have the market impact that VHS to DVD did.

Movie studios have been selling extended play capabilities with DVD and now with Blu ray but the fact of the matter is that consumers pop in a disc to watch a movie and only a small percentage of consumers actually ever take advantage of the extras. Nonetheless, as NewTeeVee pointed out, this could be great content to tie viewers in with a complimentary online experience… download Indiana Jones #43 from Hulu and get linked to the Paramount sponsored website with all of the extras.

Blu ray isn’t DOA, as I wrote back in 2006, when looked at from the standpoint of market adoption, but the aspirations of Sony and the other movie studios to have a breakout replacement for DVD that would accelerate movie purchases in the retail channel and at the same time provide them with a strong DRM enabled format (let’s not forget that is one of the strategic objectives that the movie industry had with Blu ray, frustrate global DVD piracy), well then Blu ray is certainly a disappointment.