ReadWriteWeb reports that Into Now, a California-based startup, has created a video and audio recognition technology called SoundPrint which can recognize which specific episode of a TV series you are watching, compared to services like Miso and Tunerfish which allow you to check-in to a series rather than to a more drilled-down episode level.
I'm not certain there is a whole lot of value add in a service like this, but the simplicity of the service seems interesting: just one click of a button on your iPad or iPod and it indexes 140 million minutes of content to locate which specific episode of a series you are watching, with hardly any typing required. And yes, you can share that piece of information with your Facebook and Twitter friends.
This is what I thought was the most interesting part of the article:
By relying on the audio to identify content, it makes the technology device agnostic and puts the content at the center of the interaction. Whether you're watching a LOST rerun on TV or your watching an episode on Netflix, SoundPrint and the IntoNow app will base your interaction around that specific episode, and not simply the entire season or series.
For example, if a friend remarks that a particular episode of a show is not to be missed, the app can tell you when that episode airs again, in real-time, where you are.
Helge Tenno discusses the future of the TV by relating it to the experience - it isn't about the distribution mechanism (the future of the TV), but the sharing mechanism (the future of the experience). He links to a Kevin Slavin video which is well worth your time. Slavin, via his company Starling.TV, is spending a lot of time figuring out how to answer the future-of-TV question best, and the experience is the whole answer, which we agree with.
Think of it this way: Millions of people are willing to pull out their phones and vote on talent based TV shows. How do we get these same people to pull out their phones, tablets or laptops and get involved in an even bigger viewing experience?
What would this demand from and bring to the design of TV and digital content experiences? And what would be the reward?
TechCrunch has announced that Miso, a check-in app for TV in the same vein as GetGlue and Tunerfish, has just secured $1.5million funding from Google Ventures, Hearst and others.
While I can see how users could gain some value from checking in to TV, for example unlocking special content and facilitating social viewing, I fail to understand what could have possessed Miso to import the FourSquare model wholesale. The meaningless rush provided by badges and points was already beginning to grate halfway through last year, when Miso started up, and by the end of 2010 even the hardened addicts were drifting away.
It appears that in 2011 we'll continue to see check-ins and points cropping up in all sorts of places where they're not wanted, let alone needed.
Dear USA, guess what, this almost impossibly cool instrument is not available in your country yet - sorry.
Imagine you could plug a box to your TV
and get the things you get out of all your boxes now. Broadband internet, countless TV channels and free unlimited phonecalls, of course. Internet-enabled TV, with a full browser. An app store for games that look better than Wii games, controlled with a remote with built-in motion sensors. A Blu-Ray player. A 250GB hard drive that you can use to build your own server. And imagine that box is designed by globally acclaimed designer Philippe Starck.
The Freebox, as it is called, is a product of one of the biggest telcos in the world, and the brainchild of Xavier Niel, who also owns the French newspaper Le Monde. More here.
One reason I think Snapstick is exciting is because I can see the exact scenario that Read Write Web describes here happening in my life:
Let's look at a simple use case: You're sitting around the living room with a couple of friends and you want to show them a YouTube video. You have your phone in your pocket, so you pull up the video on your phone, but now, instead of trying to all huddle around a tiny phone screen, you "snap" the video to your TV. The video plays on the TV and, in the meantime, if you get a phone call, want to keep browsing on your phone, or just put your phone away, the video continues on the TV.
It is only going to launch some time in 2011 and at the moment is in private beta, but you have to admit it sounds exciting.
It's been more or less accepted by most people with a stake in TV that internet TV is the future of TV consumption. Read Write Web has a nice summary of internet TV apps you can plug in to with your phone.
Apart from the usual Netflix, Hulu and Amazon VOD, there's Clicker, Blip.TV and Revision 3.
It's all here.
There's been a fair bit in the news lately about Netflix moving to a primarily streaming-only service, in a move to (quite sensibly) cut costs. Today ReadWriteWeb reports that Amazon is working on a streaming service to challenge what can be seen as Netflix' domination of the industry, in the US at least.
According to The Wall Street Journal
, the company is "developing a Netflix-like subscription service that would offer TV shows and movies, according to people familiar with the matter. That service would be included as a bundle with its Amazon Prime shipping service, which costs $79 a year, those people said."
The tagging of the service to Amazon Prime is an interesting touch, though I don't know whether it makes a lot of sense, because customers who subscribe to Amazon Prime are not necessarily the same ones who will choose to use the streaming service. There could be some overlap, but that's about it.
Very exciting stuff if this comes to fruition: we all know that we can watch old episodes of our favourite shows on streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, but the New York Post reports today that Netflix is willing to spend a lot of money to solve that problem and get the rights to stream current episodes too.
From Read Write Web:
According to the Post, the battle right now is between the networks and the production companies, who both claim the distribution rights to the episodes. Networks say they own them, while production companies claim they can sell the rights to Netflix. According to the Business Insider
, Netflix has spent $350 million on rights to TV shows and movies. At nearly $100,000 per episode, this number would quickly rise.
TechCrunch spoke to Avner Ronen from Boxee at a conference in New York recently where he stated with no trepidation that it was futile for big traditional media owners to resist the growth of internet TV (we concur):
“The Internet is just a distribution model, it does not dictate business models,” argues Ronen. The existing media companies may not like the new competition that the Internet is bringing, but if consumers move there they won’t have a choice but to follow suit. He predicts that 50 percent of households in the U.S. will have Internet-connected TVs in five years and that “Netflix is going to have more paid video subscribers in two years than Comcast.” People will pay for broadband from one provider and pay for content from others (perhaps Netflix or Hulu or Boxee). Resistance is futile because over time, the Internet will prevail.
They also spoke to Ronen on the same topic not too long ago: here's a short video:
Read Write Web are doing a series where they summarize the key tech trends of 2010, and as expected one of them is internet TV. Nothing particularly revelatory but the post serves as a good refresher. They highlight the big internet TV stories of the year: Apple TV, the partnership between Google TV and Sony, internet TV web apps like Clicker and of course the US site that still holds a lot of potential, Hulu. They conclude:
Of course, in the U.S. the main television networks still rely mostly on 'offline' TV for their revenues. And consumers by and large still watch popular shows like Mad Men through cables piped to their television sets. But if 2010 is any indication, the Internet has well and truly arrived as the future of TV.