Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Any video content from the dawn of time at the touch of a button?



Anthony Wood, CEO of ROKU, gave the opening keynote on the first day of the SMPTE conference (23 October 2012).   Anthony is a successful and charming Silicon Valley entrepreneur, complete with the handyman uniform of sneakers, worn jeans, and suspenders (see photo).  The term ROKU comes from ‘six’ in Japanese, by the way.  It was Anthony’s sixth company.

His basic point was that the future of television will be via Internet streaming, rather other delivery means.   This is the service that the ROKU player or set top box provides at an equipment retail cost of just 50 USD.  It provides a ‘gateway’ to the services of other content providers such as Netflix.  It is a competitor of other gateway boxes from Apple TV and others. 

The ROKU service will also be available via a ‘dongle’ for insertion into the USB port of a TV set.  This will be a disposable dongle, which can be updated with new and more sophisticated software as time goes by, without the viewer having to wait for his next TC set.  

ROKU offers access to a large number of services, which fall into popularity bands like a ‘long tail’.   Top gun at the moment is Netflix. 

Anthony was asked what broadcaster stations should be doing to continue to be successful in a future age of Internet gateways like ROKU.  He suggested they should be working out how to gain the rights to include premium content in their Internet services, which should also be offered via an Internet gateway as well as broadcast.  It seems that much the right to much premium content today resides with the networks, rather than the broadcasters who use network content for broadcasting.    

So what is the ‘end point’ of the current trend?  For Anthony it will be a world where “any video content in history is available via Internet”.  

Do you think he is right?

David Wood. 

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