Archives For Web

Yesterday at the D9 conference a new player entered the content discovery market. Fanhattan debuted an iPad app for finding TV shows and movie titles online. Reminiscent of the old Comcast Fancast site (now Xfinity-branded of course), Fanhattan shows you where to find the videos you want so you don’t have to go trolling around the net searching Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, etc. It’s competing against several other content discovery engines – Clicker, GetGlue, Miso and more – but Fanhattan’s focus isn’t as heavily centered on social sharing as its established counterparts. In my opinion, that’s a strength for the new app. You can get social if you want, but if you just want to watch TV, you can do that too.

There are nine basic modules for TV and movie selections: watch now options, episode details, reviews, cast and crew info, video clips (if available) soundtrack details, fan gear, connect options (Facebook or email sharing), and similar content. You get to this information by tapping through to either the TV or movie main menu and then browsing or searching through different categories. Filter selections include the ability to browse by user ratings, top picks, release dates, and much more. You can also search for titles by keyword.

The Fanhattan interface is quite visual, and, being an iPad app, entirely powered by taps and swipes. I have a few nitpicks about the design, but overall it’s very effective. Continue Reading…


Over the years, we’ve surveyed a number of video monitoring kits – including Archerfish, Vue, and Dropcam. While all have brought a number of novel software enhancements or distribution methods, they’ve all also bundled disappointing low resolution cameras. Given my positive experiences with Logitech’s Google TV video conferencing camera and after catching footage of this iPad app in action, I reached out to Logitech’s PR firm to take a look at the Logitech Alert security solution.

Off the bat, it’s clear their HD video capture hardware is in a different league – both fit and finish and actual streaming. Additionally, while I’d have preferred a wireless camera it’s probably a smart decision to bundle Powerline network adapters for efficient setup and reliable connectivity. Unfortunately, Logitech camera placement options can’t match the extremely flexible Vue cameras. Yet, at the same time, the batteries won’t die before I get around to reviewing the product… as there are none to mess with.


On the software front, I was a bit bummed to discover that Windows is required for initial setup. But once complete, video can be accessed via a Mac OS X browser or mobile app. Indeed, I’ve already sampled live video of the sunroom via my iPhone. And I wonder who could have possibly left our vacuum torn up like that. ;) Continue Reading…

New Cord-Cutting Stats

Mari Silbey —  May 11, 2011

Opinions vary widely on whether cord cutting and cord shaving are legitimate trends. And at a panel during Streaming Media East yesterday, execs from MTV, NBA Digital and Roku threw out new stats on the subject. According to Tom Gorke from MTV Networks, digital video is not a substitute for television. Even in its audience of so-called millennials (those born after 1980), MTV has found that the vast majority – 97 percent – are still consuming huge amounts of TV. Bryan Perez from NBA Digital, however, sees audience behavior that is more generationally divided. For those NBA Digital customers who only subscribe to content over broadband, there’s a split between consumers who paid for linear NBA content and then switched to Internet, and those who never paid for linear NBA programming before signing up for a digital package. The average age for consumers in the former group is 40 years old. The average age for consumers in the latter group is 32.

Meanwhile, Jim Funk from Roku reiterated a point made by Anthony Wood two weeks ago. New Roku customers report cord cutting or cord shaving at a rate of 30 to 40 forty percent. But what Funk emphasized was less that consumers are getting rid of cable, and more that the market is just fragmenting. There is more choice, and that means consumers are finding what they need in a variety of different ways.

In short, new stats do little to clear up the cord-cutting debate. Are more people watching more video online? Yes. Is it replacing TV? Probably not. Will it all shift further in the next 12 to 24 months? Absolutely.

It looks as though at least some of us are being credited by Amazon for high definition video on demand rentals or purchases that may not have actually achieved sustained HD streaming. A friend and I both received this email within in the last 24 hours:

As someone who has purchased digital movies or TV shows in high-definition (HD) from Amazon Instant Video, we wanted to provide you more information about how we deliver HD content. It is our goal to provide you an uninterrupted viewing experience without any video reloading or “buffering.” To provide you uninterrupted viewing we may lower the resolution of HD videos to standard definition during streaming playback. We do this if we detect that your Internet connection to our service may not be fast enough to support HD playback. For more information on viewing HD videos from Amazon Instant Video, please visit our Help page here:

Because you may not have been able to playback one of your rentals or purchases in HD quality, we have issued you a one-time Amazon Instant Video credit of $1 for each of the HD movies and TV episodes you have purchased from us for a total amount of $23. In order to apply the credit to your Amazon Instant Video account, please click here,

Continue Reading…

Sites and services go down all the time. Just ask Amazon. And all their customers. But they weren’t the only ones to suffer a massive outage this week, as Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN) has been offline for several days now. After a long period of silence, Sony has finally provided some situational insight:

An external intrusion on our system has affected our PlayStation Network and Qriocity services. In order to conduct a thorough investigation and to verify the smooth and secure operation of our network services going forward, we turned off PlayStation Network & Qriocity services on the evening of Wednesday, April 20th.

Of course what they’re saying is that they’ve been hacked. And until Sony figures out what’s going on and how to stop it, they’ve pulled the network plug. So the forensics team has probably been doing their thing, maybe law enforcement too, as the engineers bolster PlayStation Network defenses.

Unfortunately, Sony hasn’t provided an ETA for PSN service restoration. And I know several of my work buddies with PS3s are suffering from Call of Duty, Black Ops withdrawal. But I’m not sure they appreciated my repeated mocking suggestions to join me on the superior Xbox Live.


While Roku doesn’t offer an officially sanctioned YouTube channel, many of us have been enjoying that content through a “private” offering created by The Nowhereman. In fact, he’s such an exceptional developer, Roku brought him on as an employee (where he’s known as Chris). Yet that puts them in an even more awkward position now that Google has taken issue with the unlicensed YouTube channel.

A blog comment tipped me off to the situation, that I confirmed on the forum… The YouTube channel remains functional for the folks who’ve previously activated it, yet no new subscribers are permitted. I reached out to Roku who also corroborated the situation, saying “we received a takedown notice from YouTube’s legal team and are in the midst of negotiations with them.” They’re hopeful of having more information to share with the community next week. Continue Reading…

FiOS streaming live TV tablet

Slowly but surely we’re getting more access to TV on our PCs, iPads, and smartphones. But a comment on Dave’s post about the IMG 1.9 release reminded me that for some folks, the fact that FiOS TV service doesn’t let you move content around easily today is still a deal-breaker.

Until Verizon has a way for me to get TV off their box and onto my PC/ pad/ phone- the same way that Tivo does, I will continue to be a Tivo customer.

What most folks don’t know is that Verizon has done an astounding amount of work on its infrastructure in order to enable services that make content more flexible and accessible on different devices. We learned in January that the telecom had overhauled its hybrid QAM/IP system, making it possible to switch over to all-IP broadcasting for live television in addition to VOD and widget services. More recently, however, the company announced its new Verizon Digital Media Services platform, which both transcodes and formats TV for different devices, and handles session management so you can start watching a show in one place, and finish up somewhere else. (See Light Reading’s stellar coverage here and here)

Verizon claims that VDMS is a one-of-a-kind digital delivery utility, and it’s aiming to sell the technology as a service to cable companies for their TV Everywhere services. I have serious doubts about the potential success of that plan, but for Verizon’s own purposes, VDMS appears to give the company everything it needs to take FiOS TV to the next level. You know how the new WatchESPN service lets you watch live ESPN broadcasts on the go? I’m betting Verizon will offer more linear content the same way in the near future to FiOS TV users, along with the option to transition viewing sessions of VOD and recorded content to various gadgets for mobile viewing. This could be a good year to be a FiOS subscriber.  Continue Reading…

The New York Times is starting to roll out digital subscription plans in Canada this week, with US and international subscriptions set to take effect on march 28th. Readers will be able to view the paper’s home page for free, and read up to 20 articles per month at no cost. You’ll also be able to access the “Top News” section of the company’s mobile apps for Android, BlackBerry, and iOS for free. For anything else, you’ll need to pay up.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • If you want full access to the web site and smartphone apps, you’ll need to pay $15 every four weeks.
  • For full access to the web site and the tablet app for the iPad you’ll need to find $20 in the couch cushions.
  • Full access to the tablet and smartphone apps plus the web site will run you $35 every four weeks.

Existing newspaper subscribers will be able to continue accessing all of the digital content for no additional charge. That includes customers who sign up for weekday only, or Weekender Friday-Sunday only service. Because the New York Times is currently offering a 50% discount for up to 12 weeks on some print subscriptions, I can actually sign up for the weekday print edition and digital editions for $3.70 per week, compared with $3.75 per week for the web and smartphone plan. But after a few months that price would double.

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