June 25, 2009

Comcast, Time Warner, and TVEverywhere

Comcast and Time Warner jointly announced the "TV Everywhere" initiative - much to the very vocal derision of blogs, pundits, and digital heads everywhere :)

The root of the announcement is, of course, that premium programming content will be available online, at no incremental cost to consumers (what marketers like to call "free" :)).

Hard to see why this is a bad thing - but there are lots of big words, like "anti-competitive" and "anti-consumer", being bandied about, so let's try to deconstruct the questions being asked a bit. Note that opinions expressed here, as always, are strictly my own.

1) Should content producers allowed to charge for access to their content?
I think the answer to that is "yes". There are some fair questions about who they charge, and how, and is there pricing collusion, etc. - but I don't think anyone means to imply that advertising is the ONLY model that content producers should be able to use?

2) Doesn't "TV Everywhere" depart from the Hulu model?
So... broadcasters (NBC, ABC, Fox, et al) ALREADY make the content available for free (over-the-air) - and they monetize with advertising. The "Hulu model" was to take the same business model, and make it available online. I don't mean to parse semantics here, but... kinda sounds like the same idea here: make content available wherever consumers are, using a model that is already working for consumers. Like Hulu, this isn't a new business - its a new distribution channel.

Hmm - not sure I follow this one. "TV Everywhere" is not exclusive in any way - its simply a way for premium TV producers to get their content to consumers online, and helps identify those who are already paying for the content offline. If the content producers want to make their stuff free - well, it is their content; they're welcome to do so - not sure how this initiative impedes that idea. Yes, NBC, Fox, et al, already make their content available free to consumers (for a limited time window) - but also did so before Hulu.

The Internet is an "all bits are equal" data pipe into the home - and nothing about offering subscription video over the Internet with "TV Everywhere" changes that?

The irony, to me, of posts like Om Malik's (about the "inefficent business model" being propagated here, etc.) is that it sits on the site the same day as a post that reads "Is there a future for original web video shows?"....

There is a fair question here - will the price to consumers of content trend towards zero? And if it does, how will that impact quality (i.e. who's going to want to pay to make the good stuff)?

This program doesn't purport to answer that - mostly its just trying to get more people more convenient access to something they're already paying for.

How horrible! :)

June 1, 2009

MS Bing: The more things change...

Microsoft launched their new search engine (Bing) today. Its nice, though, as a friend on Twitter pointed out, it does have that "Microsoft smell".

For instance, Googlewhack has always been a fun past time (find a search term of two words or less, that resolves to one and only one result) - and its fairly tricky to do (check out the site for details) - on Google.

But with Bing.... not so hard! Turns out that searching for a competitve search engine (Google, Yahoo, AOL, etc). is a googlewhack, um, bingwhack.
I'm (pretty) sure that the algorithm is NOT based on that fact - but that it appears so is, well, so Microsoft smelling... try it yourself.


Cue John Hodgman Apple commercial....