I’m Looking for TV Show Ideas

So, the other day I posted about a different distribution model for TV programming. You can read about it in detail there, but generally I am convinced that the shift going on in video distribution holds a major opportunity for Christians to present shows with characters that interact with the world from a biblical perspective. The post is long and full of data, but the conclusion is the same: The key part of this is finding a show that people want to watch more than once.

The model is geared for social media users age 18-34. Those are the people most likely to watch internet TV. That statistic is growing, so it will change over time but for now that is the target.

So where do you find show ideas? It cannot be cheesy. It cannot cost an arm and a leg to produce. So no sci fi epics. Looking at programming directed at this age range, there are a lot of reality shows. I could see a show about Christians that are actually impacting the world, living out 1 John 4. You could follow them around, but there is a lot of framework that would need to be developed. Or maybe it should be a different premise? Or it could be a sitcom? Or a drama?

One thing is clear, without a good show this idea goes nowhere.

[Photo Credit]


Apple TV and AirPlay = Win

The other day I saw a comment from Intel’s CEO about the Apple TV. Last night I read a NY Times article about how it compares to other media streaming devices. The device isn’t even out yet, and it is already being panned.

Sometimes people don’t see the forest because of the trees. The Apple TV will stream video itself, and probably will see that capability improve as Apple updates the device. But the real genius of the new Apple TV is AirPlay. Until the beta of 4.2 I mostly had conjecture and hope, but seeing this article from 9to5Mac, the “Go to Market” strategy is coming into focus a bit more.

The things people are saying about the Apple TV, even Apple’s marketing strategy, focus on what it does that every other streaming box does. And, the Apple TV doesn’t really stand out from that crowd. It’s a media streaming box. But when you couple it with AirPlay, you get a whole other level of interaction and media consumption. The NY Times article completely left out AirPlay, but for me, that is the key strength of the device; easily streaming content from computers and iOS devices to the TV screen.

From the 9to5Mac article:

AppleTV is a Airplay-compatible device, meaning it can stream video/sound from other Apple devices. We found out last night that it isn’t just iTunes content that it will be able to broadcast. Any H.264 content from the web can be broadcast over Airplay to your HDTV.

That includes any video that can play on your iOS 4.2 device, like: Facebook video, YouTube, Netflix, Videos, BBC News, MLB and really anything else you can watch on your iOS device. That also includes videos built into Apps and magazine subscriptions too. All of this can be beamed to your AppleTV via Airplay.

That means you can watch most Internet video on AppleTV over AirPlay. The day AppleTV is released, you’ll be able to watch free SD clips of shows that appear on ComedyCentral.com like the Daily Show and Colbert Report via Airplay. You theoretially should be able to watch Hulu Plus so long as it is encoded in H.264 (and doesn’t get blocked once the networks figure out what Apple has done here).

So, in many ways, an iOS device becomes a remote for the Apple TV, where you select content and send it for display it on your TV. This will be done using Apple’s intuitive (I hope) interface. If this is simple enough for normal people to grasp, the Living Room is about to change. Surf on your iPad or iPod, find a video, send it to your TV and enjoy. The more apps that are developed with this capability the more useful it becomes.

Apple TV is supposed to ship in September. 4.2 releases in November.

The End (of Cable TV) is Nigh!

I got an email yesterday from Microsoft about my Xbox Live subscription. They are raising their prices for Gold membership:

“Over the past seven years, Xbox LIVE has evolved from an online gaming platform to an all-in-one gaming and entertainment service. As an Xbox LIVE Gold member, you can not only play blockbuster games, such as Halo: Reach with your friends online, you can also stream movies from Netflix and music from Last.fm right to your TV. You can even connect with friends near and far on Facebook® and Twitter™. Plus, you also enjoy exclusive discounts and early access to game demos.

And we aren’t even close to being done. This holiday, Xbox LIVE is adding new Gold features, including ESPN and Video Kinect, with Hulu Plus coming on Xbox LIVE in 2011.

• With ESPN on Xbox LIVE, you can stream and watch over 3,500 live and on-demand sporting events plus highlights.

• Video Kinect allows you to chat with family and friends on the big screen, right from the comfort of your living room—no headset or controller required.

• With Hulu Plus on Xbox LIVE you will be able to enjoy a customized Hulu Plus experience that will include Kinect navigation and Xbox LIVE Parties”

That’s right, soon I will not only play games and stream Netflix on the Xbox, but watch ESPN and Hulu Plus TV programming.

Tomorrow Apple will host an event where it is rumored they will reveal a new iOS based iTV box, replacing the ill fated (but loved by me) Apple TV. It’s not certain they will announce this, but it would make sense with the rest of Apple’s strategy. An app-based iTV box designed to stream video, pictures, audio, and play simple games would fit right into the iOS line. When you add in another rumor that Apple will allow “cloud-based” content streaming to iOS devices, it could be very easy to consume all kinds of media on your TV.

That’s what has been missing from the conversion from cable to web viewing, simplicity. The average person doesn’t want to figure out how to use a multimedia PC and get the video from websites to stream on their TV. They just want to plug in a box and watch. They need an Xbox or iTV, or Playstation, or boxee box, or blu ray player with streaming capabilities or they won’t switch. Media PCs have been around for years, and never been widely adopted by the masses, not because of their cost, but because of the lack of simplicity.

If people can buy a simple solution to stream the same video content as offered by cable/satellite from the web, they will. It’s niche programming taken to the logical conclusion: pay a low fee, and watch what you want when you want.

All that remains is for local channels to figure out how to deliver through the web, and cable can devote all of it’s bandwidth to on demand and internet traffic. Cable companies wont go out of business, but they won’t offer 300 channels anymore either. Currently, I subscribe the the base cable package of 20 local channels and an internet package. We spend less than 3 hours per week watching cable. We spend many more hours streaming content via the internet connection.

It won’t happen fast, but within a couple years or so cable will find less people paying for the massive channel packages, and more adopting fiber and faster connections to the web. They will have to change their model to survive.

For those of us that deliver content via cable and network channels, we have some strategic thinking to do, and we had better get on it.

Boxee Reveals the Remote for Their Stand Alone Box – with Keyboard

At CES today Boxee unveiled a little more information about their soon to be revealed stand alone box: the remote has a full QWERTY keyboard.

“As we began adding features to the Beta it became obvious that for people to really get the most out of the box it was going to need to do more than just point and click. Rather than subject anyone to another on-screen keyboard we decided the Boxee Box should benefit from a full QWERTY keyboard like you might have on a mobile phone.”

TV’s Future Suffers a Setback

A few months ago I was introduced to a website called Hulu. It’s basically a DVR on the web. Several popular Fox and NBC TV shows are available to stream, as well as a few movies. All of them have limited commercial content. Basically, instead of a 2-3 minute commercial break, you watch a 30 second spot at each break. That’s the perfect length of commercial, because it’s not long enough to go do anything. You just sit through the 30 seconds and get back to the content.

Brilliant idea, but somewhat limited to people that like to watch TV and movies on their computers. After learning about it, I never watched a single thing from Hulu on my computer.

A little while later, I heard about Boxee. It’s a media player, a lot like Front Row but with embedded streaming sources, and without the limitations of Front Row. It was still in a limited alpha release. Sounds cool, but I still didn’t watch that much media on my computer.

Except, Boxee had a software hack for the Apple TV. I could (and did) upload Boxee to my Apple TV, and stream web content as well as local network video and audio. I could place a network HD with a TB of video on my wireless N, and stream it through my Apple TV… very appealing. But Boxee also streamed Hulu content. I could watch missed episodes of the Office or Heroes or 24 on my TV. No wires, no fuss, no hooking my computer up. Just turn on the Apple TV and go. This kind of thing is the future of broadcast TV. Boxee wasn’t just talking about it, they were doing it.

Boxee had converted my set top box to a broadcast streaming device. I was still watching commercials (In fact, Boxee doesn’t let you skip them!) but not as many. I was watching the same content available at the Hulu website. I had never used that site before boxee. The advertisers were getting more exposure to me because I was using Boxee. That’s an important point.

February 18, 2009 Hulu announced they would be shutting down Boxee’s access to their content. An excerpt from Hulu’s Blog entry:

Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee product, and we are respecting their wishes. While we stubbornly believe in this brave new world of media convergence — bumps and all — we are also steadfast in our belief that the best way to achieve our ambitious, never-ending mission of making media easier for users is to work hand in hand with content owners. Without their content, none of what Hulu does would be possible, including providing you content via Hulu.com and our many distribution partner websites.

Our mission to make media dramatically easier and more user-focused has not changed and will not change. We will not stop until we achieve it and we are sober in our assessment that we have such a long way to go.

Reading between the lines here, Hulu’s not happy about this at all. But, without the content, there’s no Hulu.

It boggles the mind. How is it any different for me to watch the content on Hulu with commercials or Boxee with commercials? These are content providers who are afraid. This is a new model of broadcast, and they can’t think it through, so they are pulling back.

From Boxee’s Blog entry:

our goal has always been to drive users to legal sources of content that are publicly available on the Internet. we have many content partners who are generating revenue from boxee users and we will work with Hulu and their partners to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

we will tell them how users love Hulu on boxee, why it represents a great opportunity for them to better engage with fans of their shows, how boxee can help in exposing their content to new people, and why they should be excited about future opportunities of working with us.

Many comments on Boxee’s site express frustration, and claim they will go back to illegal downloads of this content through bit torrents. Virtually no one is saying theywill log onto Hulu to see this content. So, advertisers lose. Past history shows that I will never log onto Hulu to watch.

Boxee has set up a public wiki page for users to help with ideas on a “pitch” to Hulu’s content providers. Now, if we can just get past discussions on boxee.tv’s lack of use of capital letters maybe we can help move media forward… again.