Rep. Rick Boucher Presses NBC About Hulu Practices Toward Boxee

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 4:  Comcast Chairman...
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During the Congress hearing examining the Comcast acquisition of NBC Universal Rep. Rick Boucher Presses NBC About Hulu Practices Toward Boxee.

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA): What about Boxee? Mr. Zucker you probably are in a better position to answer that. Did Hulu block the Boxee users from access to the Hulu programs?

Zucker (NBC): This was a decision made by the Hulu management to, uh, what Boxee was doing was illegally taking the content that was on Hulu without any business deal. And, you know, all, all the, we have several distributors, actually many distributors of the Hulu content that we have legal distribution deals with so we don’t preclude distribution deals. What we preclude are those who illegally take that content.

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA): “Well would you have negotiations with Boxee upon request?”

Zucker (NBC): “We have always said that we’re open to negotiations.”

I’m overjoyed to see congress pressing NBC about their issues with Boxee and Hulu.  They have had past issues with streaming content online and now with Comcast set to take over I fear those issues will only get worse.

Boxee uses a web browser to access Hulu’s content – just like Firefox or Internet Explorer. Boxee users click on a link to Hulu’s website and the video within that page plays. We don’t “take” the video. We don’t copy it. We don’t put ads on top of it. The video and the ads play like they do on other browsers or on Hulu Desktop.

The big difference between boxee and other browsers are that boxee took the effort to make their product available on other platforms that connect easily to the TV.  This is unfortunately perceived as a threat by those studios who don’t get the change in the way audiences want to consume their media.  We go into more detail on Speculative Fiction Today #405 “Many Mini Chucks”.

Zucker’s response makes me cringe because it sounds like the health care debate all over again.  One side says hey lets negotiate on this and the other side says they are more then willing to negotiate yet their actions shows no intention of doing so.

(via Boxee Blog)

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Would you pay for a Boxee app?

Image representing Boxee as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

[Avner] Ronen says that the company still has yet to collect any revenue for use of its media center software, but that it's working on a way to allow content owners to charge for the Boxee Apps that they create (Contentinople).

This begs the question:  Would you pay for a Boxee App?  I might but there are a few ground rules that would have to be established:

Rules for Paid Apps

  1. Paid App channels would have to be commercial free.
  2. Paid App channels must have a free version to test the content.
  3. Apps must be cheap!  The more they cost, the fewer people will pay.
  4. Apps should be available for networks and individual shows.

Reasons I would pay for an app

  • Premium Channels: HBO and Showtime are top of my list.
  • Foreign Content: BBC iPlayer is top on my list, but I have a soft spot for Chinese and Indian TV.
  • Supporting Indie Media:  I would pay to support the Guild, Legend of Neil and other shows, but I would expect extras.

How I hope this works

I have hoped for a long time that Apple would open its platform to allow more options.  So far they haven't.  I think Media should have a tiered support system:

  1. Free: Ad supported, let me check it out
  2. Tiny Fee: Watch commercial Free
  3. Small Fee:  Own outright (The content is downloaded to my device)
  4. Modest Fee: Own outright with special features

I want to be able to watch any show and upgrade my content as I see fit.

Did I miss anything?

What would make you want to pay for a Boxee App?  What rules do you have?  What model would you like to see?

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TV and Movie Streams Up, Push Decabling!

ipsos_8_5The number of people who are streaming TV Shows and Movies online is way up.  Now is the time to push Decabling! Hulu and Netflix are helping in the cause, but we have a lot of work to do.  We need to promote AppleTV (or better the Mac Mini) and Boxee to get more people to move to the next phase, leaving the cable companies for the freedom decabling offers.

How do you think we should push decabling?

(via New TeeVee)

Vision of a Fan Based Economy

Ira Rubenstein is the Executive Vice President of Marvel Comics' Global Digital Media Group.  Dave Roman is associate editor of Nickelodeon Magazine and a cartoonist.  Stuart Levy is the chief executive of Tokyopop.

This is a conversation they had at ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference:

Rubenstein: But Dave, I think there’s a difference. No one can write about Spider-Man or X-Men except for us.

Roman: I disagree.

Levy: Totally.

Rubenstein: Those are our characters. How could someone else write another Spider-Man story?

Roman: Because fan fiction is becoming so powerful. I’ve seen the power of fan fiction. Working at Nickelodeon, there are people out there doing ‘Avatar’ comics that are soooooo much better…

Rubenstein: But that’s like saying YouTube is a real entertainment channel. It’s not.

Roman/Levy/like five people in the audience: It is (THE BEAT).

They just don't get it.

Caretakers of Legends

As I said in What makes a fan a fan, studios and publishers have to stop thinking of themselves as copyright holders and more as caretakers of the franchises we love.  The good and the bad of the dialogue above is that Dave Roman and Stuart Levy seem to understand, but Ira Rubenstein still doesn't.

I have a feeling that many companies will go out of business before their leaders who do not understand the changes in the marketplace are replaced by people who do understand.  If there is a future, then we have to change the economic model from the owner/consumer model to a new fan based model.  Here are some of suggestions for a possible way forward.

Studio/Publisher Side

Producers of media have to come to terms with the fact the days of closely controlled monopolies they once held over the franchises in their care are over, and that they have to open up to accept new methods of distribution and a new relationship with their fans.

National Borders are meaningless

The first lesson may be the hardest.  We have believed for so long that National Borders were meant to limit trade.  Where media is concerned this is a recipe for piracy.

With the advent of digital downloads, online streaming, and print on demand, it is easier than ever for any and every release to be global.  Distribution models have to built that will allow for a studio/publisher to monetize their work in every country simultaneously.

Ads, Subscriptions, Purchases and Give-aways

Studios and Publishers have to realize that they will never again be able to rely on a single method to monetize their works.  There are four main ways businesses make money on the net:

  1. Ads: Not too many or it turns people off, but the opportunity to direct targeted ads to reader and viewers.
  1. Subscriptions: Allow readers/viewers access to ad free versions of your content that they pay a regular recurring fee.  There are two major subscription models:
      1. All you can eat:  Allow your subscribers to full access to your content library so long as they pay the subscription fee.
      2. Ala carte:  Allow your subscribers the right to own so many files a month based on subscription level.
      3. Purchases:  Allow your readers/viewer to purchase copies of your work.
      4. Give-aways:  Sometimes you have to give your work away to find an audience and make your money some other way.  For example: give away the streaming, but sell the file.

      Platform Independence

      Don't tie your work to one platform.  Give your readers/viewers options.

      Let us stream with ads or subscribe by the season or purchase outright.  You offer every method, we chose the one we want.

      Don't tie our purchases to a single player or device.  If I want to watch my DVD on my AppleTV, let me.  If I want to watch my digital files at a friend's house, let me.  If I want to watch my iTunes purchases through Boxee, let me.

      The more restrictions you place on your files, the more you encourage piracy.  The more freedom you allow you readers/viewers, the more money you will make.  You cannot expect to be respected by your reader/viewers, if you do not treat them with respect.  If you treat them like pirates, don't be surprised when they act like pirates.

      Our Media

      You have to understand that you do not own this media.  If you allow your fans to have a sense of ownership over franchises under your care, they will feel a greater sense of responsibility for the future of the franchise.

      Next time we will discuss the Fan Side of the new marketplace.

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      Decabled: Hulu forced off Boxee

      Image representing Boxee as depicted in CrunchBase
      Image via CrunchBase

      The folks at Boxee announced that they are being forced to remove Hulu support from Boxee at the request of Hulu's content partners...

      Hulu posted this as their reason:

      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 (Hulu).

      What platform is next?

      I cannot understand this.  I spent most of the day trying to find just one rational reason for a content partner to ask a web service to block a platform.  I couldn't think of one.

      This is tantamount to saying, I don't want my web content visible in Internet Explorer or Firefox.  Maybe I am missing the point of Hulu entirely.

      Isn't Hulu about making money?

      Image representing hulu as depicted in CrunchBase
      Image via CrunchBase

      Unless I am horribly wrong, the purpose of Hulu to make video available to viewers in an easy to use way so their content providers could make money off of the ads.  Am I wrong?

      Well Hulu says:

      Hulu's mission is to help people find and enjoy the world's premium video content when, where and how they want it. As we pursue this mission, we aspire to create a service that users, advertisers, and content owners unabashedly love (Hulu).

      The need to rewrite that mission statement a bit.  Here let me help.

      Hulu's mission is to help people find and enjoy the world's premium video content when, where and how they want it as long as they only visit our site through approved browsers. As we pursue this mission, we aspire to create a service that users, advertisers, and content owners unabashedly love.

      There, that is more like what they are actually doing.

      Contact them and their partners:

      Let them know how you feel about them banning an browser from their service.  The next thing you know, they will have to scan for a media center before they  allow access to their video.

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      Boxee Box Inbound

      Image via Wikipedia

      I love Boxee.  It has helped to bring me more content with the greatest of ease.  Now I’m even more ecstatic to hear that device makers want to embed Boxee into existing products.

      During CES we were approached by several device makers that wanted to speak with us about embedding boxee into existing or future products. we would love to get your input on whether it is relevant for you, what will you want to see in a boxee-based device, and how much will you be willing to pay for it..

      This is great news because:

      • Boxee will become more accessible to more people
      • This can help me and other move toward reducing the number of devices hooked up in the entertainment system.

      Boxee is an alpha product that handles online video on multiple platforms (Mac, Ubuntu Linux, and Windows).  For my set up I installed it onto my Apple TV and it has made my decabling experience even more enjoyable.

      (via boxee)

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