Thursday, November 18, 2004

SBC in Deal With Microsoft to Provide TV on High-Speed Lines

SBC Communications, as part of its effort to compete head-on with the cable industry for television subscribers, plans to announce today that it will pay $400 million to Microsoft for software used to deliver TV programming over high-speed data lines.
$400 million? What does this software do that is so good? Why not buy all of Tivo for $500 million?
All IP-TV programs will be delivered as video-on-demand - consumers request a program from a central server and it is delivered immediately. In contrast, cable companies typically send hundreds of channels to customers' homes all at once - although newer, digital cable systems can also send programs one by one as in video-on-demand.
IP-TV? Not a bad name, but what happened to TVOIP?
Initially, SBC hopes that the Microsoft technology will allow it to simultaneously send two high-definition channels and two standard-definition channels for consumers with two televisions on at once, as well as a high-speed Internet connection to consumers. Subscribers will need to add only a new set-top box to receive the programming. SBC will also have to achieve vast increases in data speeds on its network.
Mom, Billy is watching two TV shows and slowing down my downloads.
A major hurdle for SBC, however, is how to increase the speed of its network to deliver the television and Internet services it promises. SBC will have to increase its current connection speeds by sevenfold, which may make the company's goal of providing television programming within a year difficult to achieve.
I hate it when the writers think we are too stupid to handle numbers. What is the current speed and what do they need to get to? What does HDTV take, about 10Mbs? So they would need about 25Mbs to make 2 HDTV, 2 regular and broadband?

This is a major change in TV and could be a major competitive advantage for the telcos. The idea of the TV "channel" is dead. Syndicated tv shows will be more important then ever. Instead of watching one episode of the West Wing a week, why not wait until the season is over and then watch all the epsiodes back to back? I forsee a day of "series addicts". I first saw this when I loned by 24 DVDs to a friend, who then then spent 24 hours watching them back to back (well actually just 16 without the commericals).

Imagine having access to every interview Charlie Rose ever did. You aren't limited by who he has on the show tonight, this week, or even this month. If he ever did the interview you can watch it when you want. Want to see how Bill Gates has changed over time? Pull up his interviews over the years. Want to see how his vision of the world differs with Jobs? Watch interviews back to back.

The other big thing is the birth of TV Blogs. By this I mean individuals creating video material for others to view. Micro-audiences. Think Wonkette/Gizmodo/BoingBoing meets TV. Those of us that think that a week is just to short of time for Shark Week. Homemade/low buget underwater video of sharks. Bring it on, I will watch all that you have. Travel shows to exotic locations (particularly ones I am about to visit), I will watch it. Cooking shows that can be chosen based on the recipe, I love it. A Seattle (or any city) version of the Daily Show, I'm so there. Family vacation video, uhh get back to me on that one.

For those who are concerned about media concentration this is going to be a major opportunity to make sure that the law requires the providers to allow access to any "channel" that is out there. Because the big telcos are technological idiots I don't think they will see the advantage to them of doing this. Activists will have to take it to them to force the lines open. NTT DoCoMo created such an economic model that allowed small players to make money and it became a huge success.

via NY Times

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