Archives For Video

Starz has launched Vongo, a new movie download service. What makes Vongo unique is the $9.95 all-you-can-eat subscription plan. PC downloads require a custom app that work in conjunction with Microsoft’s DRM. In addition to desktop or laptop viewing, transfers to MS mobile devices running Portable Media Center v2 are currently supported. Starz intends to expand service to Sony’s Connect download service in the near future. Their stated intention is to also offer video downloads to the iPod, but that strikes me as unlikely.

Starz originally began offering movie downloads via RealOne over a year ago. I briefly gave the service a try, but was dissapointed with an unpredictable selection of mostly older films. If the new service offers current, mainstream content, both the pricing and timing could be right to make some waves.


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TiVo Takes On Fear Factor

Dave Zatz —  December 29, 2005

TiVo continues to blur the lines between advertising and content (see Navy Football, CNET Reviews) with today’s debut of a new video feature called “TiVo Takes On…” The first Showcase is a 10 minute behind-the-scenes look of NBC’s Fear Factor. TiVo employee Shanan Carney, of TiVo Newsletter and video advertisement fame, does a nice job hosting the entertaining featurette (assuming you’re into Fear Factor). Based on the audio and video quality, though, I’m guessing either production was handled in-house or they need to work on their video compression. Trivia: Joe Rogan owns three TiVo units.
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TiVo Adds Video Blog

Dave Zatz —  December 7, 2005

Why stop at audio podcasting when you can serve up video? TiVo will begin providing daily Rocketboom broadcast downloads on Monday. Networked Series 2 units are eligible to sign up via this web page or through a new Showcase which will appear on TiVo units tonight.

Even cooler, TiVo is soliciting volunteers to provide content (Engadget, are you listening?) for their “VideoBlog Project” here.

TiVo says: Rocketboom is currently one of the most popular videoblogs on the internet with more daily subscribers for original syndicated multimedia content than nearly any other site, including podcasts. Now, Rocketboom is available on TiVo as part of the TiVo Video Download Trial.

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Netflix has begun incorporating third-party advertising onto their envelopes. Beginning last week, DVDs to certain customers in certain geographic regions were targeted with a Memoirs of a Geisha ad and this week Aeon Flux arrived at my door step. Also this week, I participated in an online customer survey specific to that envelop flap.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this. I don’t know why Netflix hasn’t incorporated full-flap advertising sooner. As stated below, perhaps they needed to reach a “critical mass” of customers before they could enlist big-league sponsors. Not all advertising is bad. In many cases it can offset fees… perhaps this new revenue stream accounts for Netflix lowering subscription rates.

Unlike other mailings I receive, the ad is nicely incorporated into the actual envelope instead of troubling me with additional inserts to trash. Presenting advertising without alienating customers is a bit like walking a tightrope. The current method strikes me as a win-win endeavor. However, the moment ads start appearing in my email or interfere with browsing the Netflix website I’ll feel differently.

Brandweek says: “Netflix ships one million DVDs a day,” said Netflix spokesperson Ken Ross. “Testing ad vehicles makes sense now that our subscriber base has reached real critical mass with 3.6 million customers currently and more than five million projected for next year.” Netflix said it plans to roll out more advertising and will consider selling various ad placements—on envelopes, on its Web site, in customer e-mails. The company expects to rotate creative on a weekly basis and in some cases feature multiple movie properties at the same time in a targeted manner.

Charlie's AngelsThe first high definition Blu-ray feature length film is in the can. Is Sony’s library so poor that they had to go with Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle? Then again, it can’t be any worse than Stealth. Despite their poor taste in content, the disc will be shipped to manufacturers for next-gen player development. Perhaps Netflix is right in stating Blue-ray has won.

Sony says: Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle was compressed and authored in MPEG 2 full high-definition (1920 x 1080) by Sony Pictures’ Digital Authoring Center (DAC) and is now being shipped to BD hardware companies for player testing. Utilizing Blu-ray’s unprecedented storage capacity, the Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle disc features dynamic menus with full resolution graphics and animation, superior audio and unparalleled picture quality. “We are confident this achievement will help everyone understand that Blu-ray is real and poised to enter the marketplace,” said Mr. Feingold. “Blu-ray will bring the highest quality HD experience possible to the home.”

DTVHow much are you willing to pay for commercial-free TV? How much would you pay to watch that content through a DVR which already let’s you bypass commercials? DirecTV and NBC think you’ll pony up 99 cents a show using their new DVR, available at Best Buy and Circuit City later this month.

We’ve definitely entered an era of exerpimentation (iPod shows @ $1.99, Time Warner’s VOD) with companies trying to figure out what we want to watch, where we want to watch it, and what we’re willing to pay.

DirecTV says: NBC Universal and DIRECTV, Inc., today announced a first of its kind agreement that will give consumers access to the top programs of NBC and its cable entertainment networks, USA, SCI FI and Bravo, within hours after they air, commercial free, for just 99 cents. The programs will be available on demand through the new DIRECTV Plus interactive DVR. “The way people are consuming content is changing,” said David Zaslav, President, NBC Universal Cable. “Through this agreement with DIRECTV, consumers will be able to watch top NBC content on demand for just $0.99, when they want, without commercials. It’s a huge sea change. This deal is the first of its kind and we value DIRECTV’s partnership in rolling it out.”

Video iPodWe’re all familiar with the iPod – sleek design and a well-executed user interface, combined with simple sync and purchase options via iTunes. In those respects, the new video iPod performs as expected. If you have a large audio collection, the slimmer form and black option of the 5th generation iPod could be appealing. Some might even consider it a bargain – the 30BG model is only $50 more than the 4GB Nano.

Apple made a point of specifying this iPod just so happens to have video capabilities. After playing with it awhile I can tell you they’re not being modest, it’s not much of a video device… yet. While the screen is sufficiently bright and detailed, 2.5″ is on the small side for extended viewing. I also find support for only MPEG-4 and QuickTime limiting. Initially I figured I’d be able to overcome both those deficiencies, after all Steve Jobs touted all the movie trailers I’d have at my disposal. Well it turns out that the dozens of previews viewable through iTunes are not available for download to my video iPod. Why should they give me free content when they’re pimping TV shows at $1.99 a pop?
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