Current to go Public

current tv ipoAl Gore may not have created the Internet but he is Chairman and one of the co-founders of Current Media, parent company of Current TV. Now, he and his colleagues are getting ready to take it public.

Current TV was founded in 2002 and launched in 2005 as a 24/7 cable and satellite TV network focused on news and information. The channel and its affiliated website differ from traditional programming in that they rely heavily on user/audience participation.  Relying on what they’ve named “Viewer Created Content” (VC2), approximately a third of Current TV’s on air broadcasts comes from non-fiction submissions.  It’s news from pop culture to politics from young adults, in their own perspective.

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HBO Programming Comes Online, Sort of.

Time Warner’s HBO unit has created some of the most original programming on television over the past decade but efforts to make the programming available online have been snagged in the webs of legal contracts. As a subscription service, HBO’s distribution agreements with cable and satellite providers stand in the way.  That remains a problem but Tuesday, HBO is set to try again. 

Their new service, called “HBO on Broadband” will provide access to about 400 hours of programming a month.  The full library of HBO content will not be available.  Also, only existing subscribers to HBO’s TV programming will be able to participate.

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Sony Shortcomings: Dear Howard, What about the Customers?

listenAsk a politician and they’ll tell you, consistency in policy and staying on point is essential. Stick to the Message.  If you flip flop from pro to con, then con to pro, credibility will disappear.  Without credibility, there’s little trust.  Without trust there’s won’t be a favorable vote.    In retail, similar maxims apply.  There’s the famous “the customer is always right.” There’s also the old “K.I.S.S.” principle: “keep it simple.”  You can confuse your customer with too many changes, or too many choices.  That’s bad marketing.  Better practice is to offer them value, offer them what they ask for; what they want or need.  Do that and they’ll probably purchase your product.  Don’t and the sale is going to be difficult to close.   

Lately, it seems more and more like Sony (especially the gaming division) has gotten off point, or keeps forgetting the message.  Since launching the PS3 gaming platform in November 2006, they’ve made multiple marketing mistakes and repeatedly juggled their lineup and pricing models to adjust.  I can recall at least three changes in the console’s first year on the market.  Now they’re at it again.

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Comcast’s 2008 Vision: On Demand Video is King

Microsoft opened the Consumer Electronics Show with the boast that their Xbox Live on-demand platform would soon offer more than double the number of titles available on demand from Cable and Satellite providers.  Not to be out done, Comcast, the nation’s largest cable TV provider (and 2nd largest broadband service provider) used the trade show stage as opportunity to issue a reply.

During another keynote, CEO Brian Roberts unveiled several content initiatives Comcast has planned for 2008. Click to Read More

Microsoft TV: The Next Developments

msft tvIn addition to Bill Gates keynote, Microsoft launched the Consumer Electronics Show Sunday evening with four Television related press releases and product announcements. 

• MGM & Disney/ABC on Xbox Live
Headlining the list was Microsoft’s announcement that, Xbox Live, their internet platform for delivering video on demand through the game console, will soon offer an on-demand library of content double that available through cable and satellite services.   

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Streamed Flix from Netflix

nflx set top boxIn October’s 3rd quarter earnings conference call, Netflix’ CEO Reed Hastings spent a few minutes talking to analysts about the slowly converging worlds of video distribution.  In those comments he expressed three long term goals: “one, to expand the content [they] offer online; two, to make it inexpensive and easy for consumers to view that content on the television; and three, to understand what the financial model for the hybrid service will be in the long term.”  Today, Netflix took a step toward realizing goal number two.

Late Wednesday the DVD-by-mail rental service announced a partnership to bring movies straight to the TV over the Internet.  The new service, which will not be available before June, expands on Netflix’ year old “Watch Instantly” functionality by removing the requirement to watch streams through a computer.

The service will rely initially on hardware manufactured and sold by South Korean electronics giant, LG.   Using a dedicated set top box, or equivalent functionality bundled into a DVD player or other hardware Click to Read More

Looking back and looking ahead: Microsoft TV Group

microsoft tvAdvertising may be nearer the core of Microsoft’s future plans but that doesn’t mean they’re shying away from other software and entertainment endeavors. Television and PC convergence has been a focus in Redmond for more than a decade.   Many signs suggest that attention not only remains, but is growing.  Looking beyond the obvious Xbox 360 and Xbox Live related activities, a quietly executed recent reorganization, seems another hint.

According to a recent article from CNET’s, in October, Microsoft rolled several television focus areas in to a single group.   Named the Connected TV group, the newly formed organization houses HD DVD efforts, Media Center software and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) efforts.   Under the larger umbrella of the Entertainment and Devices division, the group is led by the IPTV Group’s previous directors.

Combining groups theoretically increases efficiency and collaboration.  The timing suggests there is a high probability Microsoft will unveil product or make announcements relating to the group at the Consumer Electronics show this January in Las Vegas.

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