Monday, August 25, 2008

Why TiVO and YouTube terrify the broadcasters and carriers

[Despite the availability of hundreds of channels, anybody who has tried to
find anything interesting on TV these days, other than the Olympics, will
cheer these developments. Personally I cant wait to ditch my cable TV
subscription once I get can access to Hulu and a host of other video
services over the Internet. Some excerpts from Lauren Weinstein's excellent
Network Neutrality blog and GigaCom --BSA]

Why TiVo and YouTube Terrify ISPs

Greetings. TiVo is in the process of introducing a direct interface to
YouTube for their Series 3 and TiVo HD units. I saw it in operation for the
first time yesterday. It is seriously slick. You can browse YouTube on any
old connected TV, watching full-screen with surprisingly high quality,
completely acceptable resolution in most cases (apparently an H.264 codec is
in use).

TiVo has a variety of other broadband content facilities, including
downloading of movies, but the availability of the vast range of YouTube
content, along with the familiar search and "more like this"
features, strikes me as something of a sea change.

Suddenly now, there's always going to be something interesting to watch on
TV. Anyone who can't find anything up their alley on YouTube is most likely
either not trying or dead.

But if viewers are reduced to counting bits by draconian bandwidth caps,
such wonders will be nipped in the bud -- and that's apparently what the
large ISPs would like to see (unless they can get a piece of the action, of
course, in addition to subscriber fees). The sorts of convergence
represented by a broadband TiVo terrifies ISPs whose income streams depend
on selling content as well as access.

If a critical mass of viewers becomes comfortable with the concept that
"bits are bits" -- whether they're coming from ISPs' own video services or
from outside Internet sources -- the ISPs' plans to cash in on content are
seriously threatened.

It's becoming increasingly clear that bandwidth caps are being eyed by ISPs
largely as a mechanism to "kill the competition" -- to limit the mass
migration of viewers from traditional program sources to the limitless
bounds of Internet content.

Lauren Weinstein
lauren at or lauren at

Can Online Video Support Its Next Generation?

Hayden Black is nice, funny, quotable and makes two critically acclaimed and
modestly popular web shows. He may not have a face for television, but that
hasn't stopped him from becoming the poster boy for a market of online video
producers that has a growing crowd of early-stage startups looking to meet
its needs.

Black, who has never signed an exclusive deal and whose shows - Goodnight
Burbank and Abigail's Teen Diary - are distributed on some 15 different
hosting sites, says he gets pitched at least once a week to try the services
of any number of new online video platforms, video converters, video ad
networks or analytics providers.

Multiple startups are building on what portals such as YouTube, Revver,
Vimeo and Veoh provide to serve people like Black, who are trying to build
an audience and a business around online content. These days, that could
mean anything from citizen journalism like The Uptake to an online
personality like iJustine or a TV network like MTV. Once such potential
customers create their content they need to distribute, organize and promote
it - things existing tools do, just not particularly well.

Earlier this year, Emeryville, Calif.-based TubeMogul raised $1.5 million
from Knight's Bridge Capital Partners, and it's currently trying to raise
more funding. New York City-based, a video portal that hosts
independent episodic shows and actively works to foster a community among
its creators, raised money from Ambient Sound Investments and Lauder
Partners last year and is also looking to raise more.

More recently, a crop of new, emerging competitors has been receiving small
chunks of funding as well. Episodic, which promises to be similar to blip,
but with richer web-based tools, raised $1.5 million from Granite Ventures.
Another, 750industries, barely has a web site up for its video marketing
service but was able to raise $1 million from Maples Investments and
Baseline Ventures.

Also notable is Trendessence, a bootstrapped startup founded and staffed by
current and former Stanford students that's currently in stealth mode. The
young company, which has built a platform for online video producers and
advertisers to find each other, has scored meetings with top advertisers
including Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Kraft and Motorola by promising it can
hook them up with the brave new world of online video producers. Other new
and newish players include Viddler (hosting), Zadby (product placement
marketplace), Castfire (hosting) and Video Breakouts (analytics).

The delusions of net neutrality

[Another excellent paper by the famous iconoclast Andrew Odlyzko. My only
comment is that I believe that soon there will be little or no revenue
opportunities in delivering video or other services over the Internet, with
or without deep packet inspection. The revenue opportunities of using QoS
and Deep Packet Inspection will pale against the revenue potential of the
"over the top" providers such as Hulu, Google, Skype etc. So how does a
carrier make a buck and pay for the infrastructure? As Andrew points out
customers want connectivity much more than content. My suggestion is to
bundle broadband with resale of energy, where it is in the carrier's
financial interest to give away the Internet and applications and make money
on connectivity-]

The delusions of net neutrality

Andrew Odlyzko

School of Mathematics, University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA

odlyzko at

Revised version, August 17, 2008

Abstract. Service providers argue that if net neutrality is not enforced,
they will have sufficient incentives to build special high-quality channels that
will take the Internet to the next level of its evolution. But what if they do
get their wish, net neutrality is consigned to the dustbin, and they do build their
new services, but nobody uses them? If the networks that are built are the ones
that are publicly discussed, that is a likely prospect.

What service providers publicly promise to do, if they are given complete
control of their networks, is to build special facilities for streaming
movies. But there are two fatal defects to that promise. One is that movies are unlikely to offer all that much revenue. The other is that delivering movies in
real-time streaming mode is the wrong solution, expensive and unnecessary.

If service providers are to derive significant revenues and profits by
exploiting freedom from net neutrality limitations, they will need to engage in much
more intrusive control of traffic than just provision of special channels for
streaming movies.