In the recent venture I signed on with, Connect Address, I happened to come upon one aspect of this biz which touched upon IPTV. IPTV stands for Internet Protocol TeleVision. You can do your own research on this, and come to a different conclusion, but essentially IPTV stands for the delivery of television over the Internet. You know, a connection like Comcast, Verizon or at&t or Fios or Netflix. We’ll get back to Netflix in a moment. In fact one of the issues that surrounds IPTV is what will happen, because quite frankly it is not yet been written. Obviously those who control all the cards today, let’s just start with Comcast, are the established hegemony. There has been an entry into their world at almost every corner from old telcos over Fiber like Fios, but there has also been flanking competitors like The Dish Network and Directv.
Competitors and then competitors?
The competitors in TV or cable or wireless or whatever you want to call it (because there has been some potential for competitors over electric…), are all after becoming the next form of television delivery. Youtube and then Hulu and Netflix enter the scene and what you have is a real potential shake-up. So you see a trend. New companies are trying to punch their way in and there have been barriers. Recently I noticed that Comcast tossed another 50 HD channels in our direction. Not that I am a lover of Comcast, but this seemed like a nice gesture. What it really was, or is, is a way of throwing us a bone, but that bone has no meat. 90% of these so called extra HD channels are copies of the non-HD and even more depressing to me was like 90% of the new channels are either in spanish or are sports. I don’t need this. In fact it is too too much for me, other than the free Sprout Online (thank you Comcast for one decent channel and late nights that I don’t have to keep the kid on my neck). So your customers are starting to see options on the horizon so throw them everything that is cheap and free just about to them to try to keep us happy.
Channel Lineups Are Old School
What I think is going to happen is the days of massive channel happiness are becoming quite useless to me. I’d rather have Netflix and basic cable than 200 channels I can’t make heads or tails of. The days of ala cart programming are coming. That’s what Netflix has been innovating. For me it started with getting the Roku box, the streaming partner of Netflix. You can now get Netflix built in… Let’s just say that Comcast, remarketed as Infinity and some other kind of Netflix mimicry like Comflix or something is trying to stay at pace with Netflix. Yes Comcast there will be a future, but not one where Comcast will necessary control the future (though you have lots of money and power to try this). I know it’s your ball of wax, but Comcast is not going to be the only game in town, but rather the pipe. Their recent acquisition of NBC shows they know this is coming.
Unique and Amazing Programming
With channels like AMC, FX, HBO, ShowTime and even now Netflix offering original programming I think the future will be quite different. Let’s just say that Youtube and Hulu I expect will have original shows and movies. What does this mean? Well, for one many of us will want to buy that content, even if it is $2-$7 on the fly. Do we all need 200 channels and tons of fluff. No. With IPTV I expect more pay for play, more mini subscriptions or low end like Netflix at $9 a month, but the ala carte sounds best to me and what I really think will make some future player a bundle. Get in, get out. The days of locking us into month after month contracts may have been good for the past but who really knows what is going to happen. Amazon and Apple will one day produce a TV show and original programming. Trust me, it’s coming…
Wifi Built In TVs… The Apocalypse Is Upon Us
On a side note, my wife has become quite obsessed for looking for wifi built in TVs (ever since I smashed one of our 6 TVs). The key to wifi built in is the ability to have the TV automatically online and the ability to easily surf to an independent online channel and run IPTV as you see fit. Yes, you still have to pay a Comcast or a Verizon (or steal the local Starbucks wifi), but what you end up with is a way to get to independent programming or whatever you want. The Roku box we got from Netflix started with like 5 channels, Pandora and and some crap, but eventually about 40 churches, gaming channels, music and even a Roxstar app that allowed my wife to push her DVDs into the cloud and access them through Roku… All tons of great stuff, but not until your TV is connected is any of this possible. The built in wifi is only on very few TVs we found. None at Costco or Wal-mart, yet. My prediction is that 2 years from today they ALL will be wifi enabled. Lookout Comcast, the last days are here and things will never be the same after that. But don’t fret Comcast, you will do even better, because we all need more bandwidth… tons more. And you ask why. See below, the future.
The Inevitable IPTV Future
So as IPTV creeps and crawls into our lives, we will one day wake up and say, damn, how did everything get IP based (that means over the Internet). It’s simple, that’s not just a trend, its a reality. And I see a hell of lot more going on down that pipe, extending the internet to places, it quite frankly does not belong, but its going there. For instance, I foresee on our TVs the complete merging of Internet sites and video, creating a whole new level of reality IPTV, where you participate in the channel locally. Ah, there will be webcams and there will be video calls over the TV. Will it be Skype, who knows. But let’s just say you are watching a football game and want to make a call and interact with your friends (video phone) as they all watch the game together. That’s a spot I am quite interested in, because of Connect Address, the product I have been working on. Let’s just say you are watching a new wave of game shows in which millions participate along with the live show. That’s where its going, and it really opens up Internet interactivity in ways that have not yet been thought of.