Cnet this weekend reported on happenings at one panel discussion at the Sundance Film Festival and how new mobile products — mobile phones, portable video players– have helped spur on the need for appropriate content. The discussion is an interesting one, on whether these products will be, in the future, a legitimate way that consumers watch films and if the small form factor and mini screen size is attractive enough.
If anything, these devices augment and complement the enjoyment of videos. (Surprise: that’s what the panelists thought, too.) When I was commuting between Silicon Valley and Seattle a few years ago (as well as many long-haul flights in 2001-3), I found that I was missing much of the programming I was recording on my digital video recorders at home. (Note: I had also done this with a Rube Goldberg-type set up at home with my video encoder cards and live TV in 1998, as I was spending far too much time on the road and in airports and hotels, in order to keep up with a couple of favorite TV serials.)
I eventually found relatively simple ways (but not quick and easy) to encode content and watch time-shifted material that I had recorded OTA and on my DVRs, making it portable and viewable on my PocketPC… along with a spare external battery. This was more economical and easier to start/stop/pause/turn on & off than the laptop, ‘though it was time consuming getting the content (aside from music and podcasts) on to the unit. We have a large amount of recorded audio reports available for internal download at my company and I
In 2003, the advancement of the Windows Media Center combined with connectivity and ability to sync with my Pocket PC made it even easier, but still it required certain in-depth knowledge, trial and error, as well as dogfooding our early pre-release software. Now, a couple of years later, I have the ability to automatically sync my video players directly to my Windows Media Center PC, which also streams entertainment to any TV in the home, but I still am left with the challenge of managing the content on the hard disc.
What would be great: a service that syncs my video library that I have purchased on DVD to a subscription based service that allows me to download and watch on a portable device the content I own. And for "free" content (those shows supported by big name advertisers and broadcasters), allow me to access it when I miss an episode due to a power failure (as happened this week, when the first half of a programme was lopped off). For my cable and satellite subscriptions, make the content easily available and on-demand to any device in my home (TV programming isn’t just for the TV anymore) unlocked and easily accessed via my broadband connection, perhaps even along the lines of the all-you-can-eat… I mean… all-you-can-listen-to music subscription services.
I’d like to have more options than a single supplier of weekly, a 44 minute TV shows at $2 a pop. I applaud ABC World News for making their news content available on the web for free, and would love to see more of that approach with more of their programming, even with targeted content (perhaps even more targeted content as we promoted to broadcasters when I was first at ReplayTV and later when I started at Microsoft in our TV Platforms group). I’ll be happy to watch the same ads as on the broadcast feed, or as supplied via the Comcast On Demand service (great for digital subscribers): heck, when the ads are good ones and innovative/ funny/ interesting, I may even rewind the program and watch the ad again. OK, my family hates that, but some advertisers are learning the lesson that if you have great ads, people may even watch it rather than skip over it with their DVR. Case in point: the Careerbuilder ads from 2005’s Super Bowl.
To paraphrase Dire Straights, "I Want My Own TV." But I don’t want to be constantly hit of for per programme payments for shows that I already get through my cable/satellite subscriptions. Make it easy for me — and for people who don’t have the same set ups I have at home — to get the shows we want when and in the format we want.