Apple TV Take 2 – Not So Much – Choice

I’ve been chewing on the whole Apple TV take 2 thing for a few days now. Despite my Fanboy status, still completely and totally underwhelmed. Here’s why:

  • Netflix on demand but nobody else (Amazon, Vudu, etc.). I can get more choices cheaper with Roku (and won’t always pay $4.99 a stream). Heck there are $99 Blu-ray players with more functionality and you at least get a Blu-ray player (and $1.49 viewings from your local Redbox).
  • Speaking of cheaper with Roku, I can also get a lot more with that little box as well. Have you seen their continuing channel list? Throw in the possibilities Media Fly allows for and the Apple TV is 1/10th the box.
  • Of course I can’t get Hulu or anything like that with Roku but with the coming Boxee box (yes, twice as much) and the recent Plex Announcements (wow, didn’t see what coming), I will continue to watch Hulu on my big screen – despite what the EULAs say.
  • Missed opportunity. Apple TV should have her own app store – it’s as simple as that. Now, for those telling me “it’s coming” I simply ask – and where will those apps be stored – the cloud? Nope. Not in this release of the box.
  • The whole “amateur hour” dig really got to me. Instead of “people want to watch television and Hollywood Movies” (heaven forbid an Indie, Steve) how about “People want to watch what they want to watch and we’re gonna make it easy.

I know Ed Dale and others tell me this is just step 1 but I’m not seeing it. For a company who wants to “think different” it just smacks of a company rushing to get something on the shelves in time for Christmas.

Your take – fanboy or otherwise?

Weekend Roundup: Breaking Eggs Edition

As I’ve chewed on / had a few days to think about the Hulu Plus announcement, I am both amazed at what a bad idea it is, on some many levels. I guessed I’ve moved from questions to lethargy. I tweeted yesterday that I thought Hulu was trying to make an omelet without breaking eggs on this one and was failing miserably. Still feel that way.

Here are a few other thoughts from people smarter than me (although I’d love to hear from Boxee or Roku right now):

There is also a lot of talk online about how you have to pay for the higher level of access to the PS3 or Xbox versions while paying for the access but I’m pretty sure the zillion or so Xbox users watching Netflix on their gold accounts have gotten over that pretty quickly.

I’m frustrated because it is a very very very weak attempt at bridging the gap, almost so weak that one might ask if it was designed to fail. I’ve said from the beginning that I think Hulu was designed to fail since day one and although the Hulu Plus announcement did surprise me, I can’t help but wonder if I’m still right.

What do you think?

Hulu Plus – Here Are My Questions

Update #1: Just found out / realized that the Hulu Plus stuff is “broadcast only” – meaning you won’t see any cable content on there. Yes, stuff like Burn Notice and Caprica ain’t gonna happen, even with commercials. Yes, the CEO seems scared that people might think this is a cable killer.

Update #2: Boxee ain’t the only one not on the list. No Android or Google TV either. No Roku. Silly.

I’ve been saying for a long time that I never thought a “paid/premium” version of Hulu was in the cards. Somebody somewhere has smelled some coffee (they woke up too) and I’m quite intrigued. Here’s some reporting from Engadget with a little more insight than the Hulu press release.

For the record, I have no problem paying $9.95 – even with commercials – it’s far less than any cable bill out there and (at this point) has less commercials than any cable bill out there. I’ve applied for beta accounts and am waiting to hear back.

I installed this bad boy on both my iPhone and iPad. Now I’m really glad that I have unlimited 3g on both of them. The demo stuff looks great over 3g – better quality than either Netflix or ABC (on the iPad at least).

But, I have questions:

  • Where is CBS? Nothing from them is in the lineup and we hear rumors of them going all HTML5 on us this fall. Will they be the ones to go totally free?
  • What about Boxee? The lie that “content providers wanted it removed” is about as plausible as (insert BP caring joke here). How come they weren’t listed as a means to get Hulu Plus? They’re on other boxes. What gives?
  • How many commercials on plus? We know the industry is moving to more than one. Will “Plus” go with it?
  • Why Xbox in 2011? Don’t really need commentary about this one.
  • Why no Zune or Windows 7 phone options? Did Remond upset someone at Hulu?
  • Will it “take?” Right now the commentary I’m reading says folk don’t want to pay $10 for this thing.

What about you, will you pay for Hulu Plus?

Do you have answers to any of my questions?

Do you have any questions of your own?

Google TV – What It Could Mean

I finally got my mind around Google TV and what it “means.”

And it is big.

First of all, it is real competition in the “Internet video on your television” space. With Apple TV admitting being nothing but a hobby and everyone else caring about their efforts with the same passion BP seems to care about plugging the leak, it’s easy to see why we’re getting nowhere in this space. I’ve written previously about the Roku box and Boxee’s plans but what really has happened in the last 6 months, year?

With Google taking this space seriously, we’re finally going to see some passion and growth past what we’re seeing right now. And, with their war chest, this nonsense with Hulu blocking Boxee type situations will be met with a legal war chest that can make things happen. Competition is a very good thing.

But, more importantly, we’ve got another issue at play that is even more vital.

Google in this space represents a true convergence box. This is the “old and new media playing together” dream we’ve had for years but have never seen delivered. I have in my basement plenty of boxes that put obscure Internet video on my screen and I have owned / seen / been briefed on / and have beta tested an equal amount of boxes that place nice with “old media” over the intertubes. The Xbox doesn’t do YouTube (let alone a decent Podcast option) and the Apple TV is as walled as a walled garden can get (even to the point of making it too weak to stream Flash well). When we talk about Tivo or traditional cable boxes, I just have to shudder. fILS and Twitter – silly – nothing else.

Boxee is the best hope in the underdog category (and I applaud Avner’s statements that they can work in a Google TV world) but even their approach to stuff puts a line between the two worlds. A new episode of Burn Notice goes right into my queue but the latest episode of The Totally Rad show does not. It’s just not “all coming together” the way it is supposed to … Yet. Roku is nice for what it does but the channels that aren’t there don’t appear to be coming.

At CES this year I got really nervous watching boxes from the “big names” designed (I believe purposely) to squash out the new media space. Sure, they were still lousy, but they were the only element seeing growth. And they might grow into something acceptable before we get our butts in gear.

Google TV can change this. The commercials speak of a world where the Web and Desperate Housewives can live in peaceful harmony and I’m betting my future that the box that let’s them is the box I want to get behind. Google has the war chest and moxie this space needs.

And they have my full support.

Do they have yours?

Oh yeah, their ownership of YouTube is key too :-).

The Rumors Of Podcasting’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated – But Her Maturity Is Sadly Ignored

Wizzard Media did 1.4 billion Podcast downloads in 2009 – up from 1.2 in 2008.

Video Podcast Network pioneers Revison3 did 1.5 billion minutes of video in 2009, up from less than 1 billion in 2008.

And the numbers keep going up.

Yes, there are some who prognosticate the death of Podcasting who say the numbers are going down or have reached their max. But, if you read the real numbers … the facts don’t lie.

But, we need to be honest here.

These new numbers aren’t from people getting that Podcasting religion. These are coming from iPads and televisions, apps and fan pages, streaming video embeds and on demand buttons. Many of our best audience members have never visited the iTunes Podcast Directory.

In short, people have no more of an idea that they’re getting Podcasting content than they are aware of the codec that delivered them. They got the content the wanted they way they wanted the content.

Oh, and it just worked …

It just worked.

I had lunch today with someone who used to spend 5 figures a month to deliver a small percentage of the media content he’s delivering today with S3. His bill last month was a “few hundred bucks.”

YouTube is now doing 2 billion view days as the standard.

I could go on and on – but I won’t.

If you view Podcasting as anything other than a single part of a multiple-part wonder, your future is bleak.

If you understand just how much we have matured and what you can do about it, you are going to do very well.

Thoughts?

The Hulu/Boxee Silliness Proves The “Big Media” Models Broken While Proving The Power Of Web Syndication At The Very Same Time

In the news, Hulu asks Boxee to remove Hulu from Boxee and Boxee complies with Hulu’s request. If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any time, you know what a fan I am of Boxee and have written more than a few pieces about how Hulu (and the ad-supported streaming model as a whole) has been doomed from the start.

Today’s news only goes to prove my point.

Throw in a dash of the “power of syndication” stuff and, friends, we have something to learn from this petty bickering.

Now, the snarky would say that Hulu (really) doesn’t want people to watch television on their tvs, but on the Web. They would continue to say that Boxee makes it too easy, and that’s why they killed it. But, they’d be forgetting something … Hulu has also removed their content from TV.com today. TV.com makes most of us want to return to broadcast television so that ain’t the point.

Hulu wants control, Hulu wants ownership. They want us watching their content on their terms.

That’s not Web 2.0, that’s Web 1.0.

As a reminder: Web 1.0 is the Internet on the producer’s terms. Web 2.0 is the Internet on the audience’s terms.

8 out of 9 people who read PaulColligan.com content don’t read it on PaulColligan.com. I like that. It gives me reach I could have only dreamed of a few years ago. It’s making me money. More and more people aren’t consuming Hulu.com content on Hulu.com. That has Hulu.com freaking out.

Let’s be honest here: If Hulu.com was making money (excuse me, profit) streaming Dollhouse in HD with remnant advertising from the Ad Council, they’d be streaming it any which way they can. But they aren’t making money (profit) from this. And they won’t make money (profit) from this for a long time. As cool as Hulu is (and I luvs me the Hulu), the model is flawed in so many ways.

Which means, like all good Internet properties that aren’t making a profit, they have to focus on being a “destination” or “portal” that you hope to sell to someone some day. Of course, the owners of Hulu.com won’t be selling it so, … the “destination” lie is their only, really, viable option.

Hulu did a lot of things “right.” The embed options launched a whole bunch of viral goodness and they’ve quickly become a destination and a source. Sure, they’re still losing money, but they’re doing it in bigger numbers now – so we can pay them more attention.

Being a source makes them no money and gets them no unique visitors. Remember, they’re losing money on each and every stream (I dare you to prove me otherwise) – so losing money on a stream on Boxee’s box just doesn’t make “sense” to a Web 1.0 or 2.0 model.

So, they told Boxee to stop.

And they told TV.com to stop.

And they’ll continue to lose money.

And TV will continue to get worse.

And New Media will continue to fill the holes created by old media.

And I’ll either set the EyeTV to tape Dollhouse or I might buy a wireless keyboard with a mouse to run Hulu from directly – annoyed at this property every time I do.

Take that to your shareholders.

As a side note, one must contrast what Hulu is doing to what Revision3 is doing. One wants you on their terms – the other is thrilled to have you on your terms.

Which one do you think will “win” in the end?

Will Somebody Please Explain The Model Here?

Sunday night was the new 24 telemovie. I pondered recording it but I knew it would probably be on Hulu (via Boxee thank you very much) in under 24 hours (pun intended).

And it was.

And I enjoyed it while doing a little work Monday night. Nothing like streaming television, on your terms, with just a commercial per break.

This new media thing is starting to “take off.”

iTunes is offering the download of the 24 telemovie for $14.99 ($19.99 if you want HD).

Mind you, this is the same iTunes that sells 24 Episodes at $1.99 each. This was two episodes of 24. This normally retails for $3.98.

The DVD is $15.99 at Amazon and Best Buy.

The Amazon Video On Demand Service is selling it for $9.99.

When I watched it (again, less than 24 hours after it aired), I noted that not only were there PSAs in a few of the commercial slots (btw, Hulu doesn’t get paid for PSAs, that’s what PSAs are), but a few of the commercial slots were, well commercial less. It was liking watching the DVD.

And by the way, the commercials they did show were for an online project that started last September. I’ll bet you this is remnant advertising purchased extremely cheap.

In short, The $15 DVD is being streamed for free. Yes, I know the DVD contains a bunch of extra stuff (hey who doesn’t want cut video of Jack Bauer running around in the forest?). Yes, I realize there are DVD sales as a piece of the revenue pie but so is that whole advertising model that Hulu can’t seem to make work.

If you’re reading this in America (or have some clever proxies in place), you can enjoy the show embedded below (how many paying commercials to you count in this $15 DVD):

Hulu can’t be making anyone money.

I appreciate their desire to have a single commercial per break and I’ll enjoy the ride as long as it goes here but … streaming ain’t cheap (they’re evening doing it in HD now) and they’ve got nothing to show me that they have a long term plan – or that advertisers are actually buying into this. See, when advertisers “buy into” a concept, you see their add “buys” – that’s where the term comes from. You’ll see an occasional product on Hulu and there are some $$ coming in but getting me what I want on my terms is costing them less than they’re making in the deal.

There seems to be a really silly obsession with streaming at all costs. It’s expensive, bandwidth intensive, and darn it, isn’t making the sales they keep promising it will.

Downloads, not streaming, is the future of media delivery. It’s cheaper – much cheaper – and always ends with a better experience (for the customer at least).

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

But then again, they’re giving CEOs bailouts for making much dumber moves.

If we want to get anywhere in this industry, we need to do what makes sense, not what’s sexy.

Or are we all just waiting for the bailout?