Thursday, September 21. 2006
A thought on all the hoo ha regarding YouTube's content and the rights etc.
Video Webcasters are here to stay, this is just the beginning - YouTube is the video equivalent of Napster 1.0…and clearly they are aware of what happened there.
There is a raft of stuff on YouTube like for eg videos of old bands of the 70’s. Sure this stuff is copyrighted, but the holders aren’t publishing anything that you can buy - you can watch it on YouTube however.
Interesting...what is the commercial loss to the rights holder of a person watching something they could not buy anyway.
Seems to me that in a Long Tail, Web Video World a “use it or lose it” sort of approach to rights may emerge in reality.
It will be there anyway, and there is no reason to not make it commercially available if it exists as production and marketing costs are hardly an issue on the Web.
Shocking concept to the established order of things, but the reality is this sort of content will be out there anyway - what will keep it revenue enhancing will be to make it available at a reasonable price.
This could be a next evolution of the User Produced Content model - let people have access to old back catalogue material, let them do the repurposing, give them a small share of the revenue for their trouble and sell it at a fair price.
The alternative is probably that they will do it anyway, and nobody makes any money.
Wednesday, September 20. 2006
Over the next 5 or so years, the impact of Interactive, big bandwidth Broadband IP will define a new type of Web format. The Text and Audio media industries, with lower bandwidth, have already started to feel the impact what with Blog and Pod proliferation and the advertising they are hijacking, and it would be naïve to think that video will not be next.
The “Broadcast Website” will then move to centre stage and be the conduit by which video and audio media is self provisioned, searched, selected, distributed, consumed and discussed over whatever device the user chooses, where they choose, and when they choose.
This is quite a shift in the role of the website.
The evolution of the lower bandwidth on-line Audio world is a leading indicator of many of the trends that will occur in the video broadcasting world. Take pop music for eg. The iTunes model showed that unbundled music, priced reasonably, and served at high enough quality was actually attractive enough for most customers to forgo pirated music.
In fact, the iTunes value chain exhibits many of the Web 2.0 principles, with the exception of not being an Open system - Users can input their own graphics and playlists, search the database for songs, upload and assemble their own content add metadata such as ratings to them, see what others are also listening to, chat to other users, and consume on the move. It is a pay per listen model, but sponsorship models and ad clips are also being used now by others. Pandora is using social networking to unprecedented levels to define personalised music channels. And every step you take, they’ll be watching you…analytics are everywhere.
Roll this forward into a Video WebWorld......
For starters, YouTube is the new Napster, Apple is trying to do for video what it did for music, and Web 1.0 groovers such as Yahoo, MSN et al now look like the Old Guard caught napping. There is truly nothing new under the sun....
But don't just look at the Media websites......a broadband, video capable web changes it for Everything. Cars, Clothes, Travel - anything where the Experience is important - had better get Video capable fast. Even "dull" industries like banking, insurance an so on will need to be video savvy.
I suspect that these websites will also be consumed via the TV soon, it is a small step to connect the Laptop to the TV - IPTV or no IPTV (I'm consuming YouTube on my TV now - check out the MyPCTV articles on this site). These services are potentially going to look a lot more like TV channels, and will need some of their capabilities like EPGs to function properly.
How will the Quadruple play impact the video website...I don't know about you but I have yet to feel the urge to call the vendor on eBay, and I am no way interested in being called by the punters if I'm flogging something! Email will do nicely thank you.
However I can imagine a more formal organisation will have to attach interactive capability to its sales support and customer service. I do think the relationship may well be video rather than VoIP as such. And another the expected level of interactivity will be high. There is a small company I know that has used webcams and broadband so that customers coming in to stores can put damaged products on the store webcam for experts back at base to assess what needs to be done to repair/replace the product. Small innovations like these will transform the expected customer relationship experience. And what happens when we all have webcams at home?
I think the Video Web 2.0 will be a very, very interesting place.
Tuesday, September 19. 2006
We found some videos of Tom Lehrer on YouTube - you really cannot buy this stuff - I liked the old stuff, the kids explored the whole gamut of machinima work done set to Lehrer's music. (The Anime Elements Song is too funny).
This was interesting - consuming PC based video art on a TV with good hi fi is a quite different experience.
This weekend I started to bring the iPaq 5555 into play as a way of controlling the system remotely, a lot of potential but still a fairly expensive device for a rough cut approach to home IP media - the best option still seems to be the use of remote keyboard controlling the PC and some form of TV remote interface.
What is becoming clear is that there is a real opportunity for an EPG / Remote Control / Surf Aid function.
What is also becoming clear is that with development this approach, in my opinion, will be a fairly credible "good enough" that IPTV has to deal with. Recent moves by Microsoft, Apple and Google make me more convinced.
And the evidence supports it - this research from AOL on user habits is worth repeating:
Amateur/Podcast Videos and Sports have the same ratings...yet traditional media pays stupid money for sports rights and the alternative is near free - this is a no brainer way to attack Old Media
And this is not an IPTV play, this is a MyPCTV play.
And maybe the Telcos are wondering about IPTV too...AT&T has just started Mobitv for laptops...20 channels, switching this stuff over to a big screen is but a heartbeat. (Appears not to work with Mozilla Firefox though...is this how IE gets back in the game?)
Friday, September 15. 2006
Just looking at all the areas that Social Networking is now being applied to made me start to think about how one might be able to predict in some way which type of Net is relevant to any one application.
The roots of social networking come from deep in the human experience, we are programmed to respond strongly to what people we trust think and do. There is also some evidence that, in large enough - and heterogenous enough groups (this bit is often forgotten in Wisdom of Crowds discussions) - we are fairly good at finding an optimal path.
Thus Social nets have been used for a long time (probably since Man could speak) to get advice and recommendations of products, services and life decisions. Even in the early pre Netscape 'Net many of the earliest applications were social nets (we called them bulletin boards and listservers in the Days of Text) to find like minded individuals, find new music and even get advice on which consumer goodies we should fill our houses with.
Cometh the Web, cometh the man - Jeff Bezos's Amazon.com set the benchmark and introduced ratings, recommendations and reviewers for category after category of consumer gizmos. Moving from email to web chat services allowed a lot more informal, real time chat experience (timely as emails were increasingly been seen as legally binding texts).
What we are now seeing in the "Web 2.0" explosion though is Social Network being used for flogging nearly anything you can think of. Are they flogging a dead horse though - will they work? After all, even Amazon is not a "social network" pure play per se.
Its interesting to think about when we are most influenced by our social networks, on reflection I think there are 4 main issues where we reach for our social networks for at the moment:
- Issues where information is very poor or unclear, so the best decision is still largely guesswork. This has probably been the original driver of social networking, under the "Wisdom of Crowds" logic.
- Issues to do with socialisation / communication - what must I do to "fit in" (Fashion, Celeb Gossip, certain branded goods), and how do I communicate with people of like interest / mind. The early pre-Web social network plays (listservers, later e-groups) and later web based plays such as Friends Reunited and the various Chat Groups are all clustered around this area.
- Issues to do with choices when information available is very subjective - ie things to do with intangibles. Media Arts - Music, Book and Film recommendation based social proto-nets - were on the 'Net even before Netscape arrived, and Pandora and Last-fm continue that trend today.
- Issues where possible choice is huge and needs winnowing. The sheer amount of choice we have today in the OECD exacerbates this. The aspect that plays into this is whether we are a "Satisficer" - will buy the 80/20 "good enough" product - or a "Maximiser", where only the best will do. (Find out what you are here)
This leads me to think some sort of grid can be drawn up, if you can imagine on the X axis is the intangibility of the "thing", on the Y its impact on the life of the selector. I've had a go at this below in a Social Net Matrix:
Low Intangibility/Low Impact decisions are, I suspect, only really suitable for social networks if this solves a fairly trivial problem more efficiently (or with more entertainment) than anything else. I suspect that this area is very vulnerable to for eg search and fact based review plays that can organise data efficiently. Low value consumer goods seem to me to be in this space.
Low Impact/ High Intangibility decisions I think are probably very good uses of social nets especially if there is some fashion/ social status impact to the decision. Major threats will come from plays that make the decision space more tangible, so requiring less "wisdom of crowds".
High Impact/ Low Intangibility decisions will use social nets more for reassurance, but I suspect a lot of the decison making will come from analysis of a fact base (eg car reliability, camera performance features etc) plus opinions of other users to make sure.
High Intangible/ High Impact decisions will use social nets both for navigating intangibles and seeking reassurance - financial services, housing and some other life decisions such as mate finding feature strongly here. Precisely because they are high impact some form of social networking will be used, and a premium will be on ensuring that the social network recommendation is from similar people.
Postscript: Since I wrote this I have done a bit more work on Social Nets, and I can also identify 3 other vectors they develop on:
- Level of engagement - some nets just require you to put in your data and they then aggregate this deliver this as a part of the wisdom of crowds to others (eg music selection), whereas others rely on you interacting with other people to create the content value.
- Time Shifting - some nets are time shifted (like email groups), others are real time (like chat rooms), these probably have different ideal uses - and users.
- Level of Network Intimacy - it is not always useful to know what others are doing, what you may want to know is what "others like me" are doing - but that requires a higher level of disclosure. Thus some types of services will require higher levels of intimacy between users to get the full benefits.
MyPCTV continues to take the world by storm...well, this family anyway
(For the uninitiated, MyPCTV is my laptop PC hooked up to my TV and playing YouTube videos and music stations...a hugely expensive piece of technology that has consumed about £30 so far in new gear. We have 4 PC's around the house so configured, hanging off about 3 Mb of broadband dsl, one connects to a flat screen TV that takes VGA)
Extensive audience research (ie me and the kids) shows that:
(i) If the content is relevant - and it is, because we choose it - we are not that bothered about picture quality.
(ii) If you hook the PC headphone output up to the Hi Fi that is very cool, the Audio from most stations is pretty good
(iii) A keyboard that you can operate from the sofa is also very cool - you can get PC remotes to control a PC, I saw them at IBC - but a wireless keyboard will do fine....and the keyboard allows you to use the TV like a PC as well.
(iv) What you start to want is some form of intelligent EPG for YouTube......the audio stations are already pretty good
Next step is to dig the 10 year old PC out the attic and fire it up as a Linux media server so I can get my laptop back....
US Broadcaster NBC has started NBBC, essentially a b2b exchange market for the company’s affiliates and other partners, who can go to NBBC and find video to post on their own sites, and also post video to the exchange.
This is what the site says about how it works:
Upload: Licensors place content on the >nbbc platform
Monetize: Video is paired with advertisements
Distribute: Web publishers access content and advertisement
(or supply their own ad)
Connect: Consumers view content and advertising revenue is shared
So its funded by Advertising, idea is that affiliates etc will be able to select either (i) an NBBC video player for full service, (ii) one (or more?) channel/s to display or (iii) individual video files for their sites. Ads are initially served pre-roll, going to mid-roll as longer videos are included, and other types of advertising will appear. Some ads will be served centrally, local sites can also insert local ads
So, its the good old TV free-to-air model for the New TV World.
NBBC says that their service is different out because all players make money and have full control over what video runs on what sites. The system allows partner sites to upload video to NBBC's library, determine which other sites they want to receive their video, as well as tag the video and promote back to their own site. All video will run in an NBBC-created video player.
They claim that while everyone is getting into video, not everyone knows how to get that video into local markets. It’s the network of affiliate TV stations and their accompanying websites will help them do just that, they believe.
The whole area is hotting up.......as well as this there is Apple's play, and Viacom just announced a video syndication partnership with Google. In this play Google enables other Web sites to place clips of MTV Networks programming on their Websites and Viacom (with ads of course...). Google and the site owners share the ad revenue. CNN has also started a YouTube like service for uploaded video., and AOL and Microsoft are also making plays.
The "traditional" value chain is well known - get content at a good price, allow people to search it easily, add a social network or two, get a free ride over broadband, sell an iconic consumer device, ram in the ads and get teh analystics going at full speed.....but with all these players emerging it begs some interesting questions:
- Will people really load up on lots of unique kit from everyone who is trying to reproduce the iTunes model - will they take service through new consumer gizmos, or a Set Top Box, or just endgame it to the broadband PC?
- Will advertising be compelling enough? One of the big questions is the level of Ad interactivity here, nearly all the research shows that people like ads if they are targeted and relevant, and that increases the value significantly. It will be interesting to see how they achieve the profiling and analysis
Thursday, September 14. 2006
Broadstuff is the Weblog for the Broadsight (website here) team where we comment on all the happenings in the overall broadband media 2.0 world.
We consult in the overall space of online media, our clients range from large Telecoms services to innovative startups, from finance to e-government. Our work ranges from front end business feasibility studies through to back end business redesign and system implementation.
Work we have done includes IPTV, WebTV, Interactive advertising, Mobile advertising, Social Media, new interactive media devices, Digital Multimedia Aggregation services, and more....
There is some amount (some - hah!) of hype in the overall Broadband Media / Web TV / Web 2.0 environment right now, our aim is to give a structured, thoughtful and sometimes slightly less than reverent commentary based on our real experience.
The authors are:
Alan Patrick is a founder of Broadsight. In the past few years he has worked in and helped to start a number of innovative New Media companies. Prior to this he has both consulted with, and been a senior manager at leading global multimedia companies. He has worked with such as the BBC, British Telecom, AOL Time Warner, Vodafone, ntl and UPC. He has worked in the US, Europe, South Africa and the Far East.
David Short is a founder of Broadsight. He has worked in the broadcasting and IT industries for the last 20 years. He has extensive experience implementing new solutions using both digital TV and broadband technology. Most of his recent work has involved using emerging technology to provide new business solutions.
Lately Dave Winer has been writing about "Rivers of News" where Dave is seeing a "River" of RSS feeds of information flowing past him. Dave apparently recently got a blackberry and has found the data heirarchy hard to navigate (e.g. on BBC , NYTimes, Digg etc). He found he liked the side-scroll button which enables him to quickly move up and down an email or webpage, so using his OPML editor Dave developed a number of “mobile” rivers which he could view on his Blackberry and unlike most RSS aggregators the river is not structured into folders.
Dave's view, as I understand it, is that our minds are great pattern finding engines, give us the whole river (it used to be called a data stream in the Old Days, inflation eh) of data and we will find what we want more efficiently than any other system we know.
Thats all fine in theory, but as any human computer interface person will tell you (never mind all those employees facing 200+ emails a day already), we do tend to drown after a certain volume of data washes over us.
There is a sense of deja vu in all this, anyone remember the pre-web internet (Web 0.0?) and those streams of alt.net and later eGroup emails…a waterfall of data, never mind a river! Thats why we invented threading, hated people who didn’t keep up heading title discipline and started using folders.
In other words we soon started breaking the river down into streams, (or channels if you are a TV media head).
It is really not that different in RSS...arrives in a slightly more convenient way but the "river of news" still flows into my Cesspool of Unread Stuff.
We do a lot of work in the broadcasting / cable space, and they know that the EPG (electronic Programme Guide) is critical. The value in multichannel media has always been as much in the EPG as in the content.
I suspect we are going to have to learn that in Web 2.0 too....fast. So, lets think about what an EPG might look like in Web 2.0. There are a few problems.
- Firstly, the content is mainly user-producer defined - so metadata discipline is still pretty darn poor, which makes pro-active searching for relevant stuff fairly hard.
- Secondly, social network rating/recommendation is all very well but it takes time, and as we saw at Digg recently it can be perverted by the vocal (textal?) minority
- Thirdly, RSS EPGs will increasingly be expected to interwork on mobiles, TVs and probably Nintendo DS's in the near future.
So, a solution has to:
(i) Ensure that some form of discipline exists in the folksonomy, plus probably have a user preset capability to decide on priorities, and also some form of intelligent search of incoming.
(ii) dynamically configure itself to the rating/recommendation status of the social network filter
(iii) be simple enough to use like a TV EPG is - all these small devices are pretty hard to use in anyu compex interaction.
Wednesday, September 13. 2006
I was at IBC in Amsterdam, saw all the high tech wonders and marvels. Just about everyone is now an IPTV company or pretending to be, and there was booth after both showing complex diagrams and costly gear.
Friday, September 8. 2006
Today Apple patented a " converged handheld thingy to do stuff with multimedia" (check out The Register's article on http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/09/07/apple_handheld_thing_patent/)
To quote The Register
"In the submission, published today, Apple says that the invention is a way of operating a handheld device with limited buttons that includes two or more functions including PDA, mobile phone, music player, camera, video player, game player, "handtop" (whatever that is), net terminal, GPS and remote control.
There's aren't many new phones that don't include most of these features, leading to speculation that Apple has come up with a new smartphone user interface. But can it add anything really new?
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