[opendtv] Re: Does Apple's Tim Cook Want an Apple Television?

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2012 07:30:18 -0500

At 6:29 PM -0600 12/9/12, Manfredi, Albert E wrote:
Craig Birkmaier wrote:


 And how would you characterize this content?


What Tim Cook, that article, and I are talking about has to do with technology, not content. Tim Cook is not about to become a TV productions studio. On topic, please.

1st, I was talking about all the channels you can access via FOTA TV. Most of these are either the broadcast networks (for which you have many duplicates from DC and Baltimore), or associated channels that run off network programming. You do get a few international channels, due primarily to the fact that you are near DC.

2nd. I totally disagree about your characterization about Cook and Apple. The technology piece is important, but Apple already has all of those pieces, and yet they still treat the TV space as a hobby?


Because content is king and five companies control most of what the American public watches. There have been several suggestions from media pundits, that Apple spend part of its cash hoard to compete for high value entertainment content. However, like you, I don't think Apple would go that route. The real issue is how to break the oligopoly and allow content to flow freely, rather than forcing people into the MVPD bundles that dominate the market today.

 You might be using one of the web based program guides like Zap2It

I use Zap2It, I use webcrawler, I use my head. Anyone can figure out to try cbs.com, nbc.com, hgtv.com, bbc.uk, rt.com, rai.it, tf1.fr, and so on, without needing a search engine. Their portals already provide search features, for their content. And on top of that, I found that wwitv.com portal using Webcrawler. You can watch, among a zillion other things, BBC TV News using that, even if it's not available on BBC's own site.

Thank you for making my point. This is not discovery. It is looking under every haystack for something you might want.

And again, we are talking technology here. Not the attitude of TV networks to keep their stuff locked away so no one can find it. The technology exists and is at everyone's disposal. Apple does not need to show the way.

The congloms most definitely do not want to hide their stuff. Their entire business model is about self (and cross) promotion. The fact that you use traditional program guides and search their websites says volumes - you are just playing in "their" walled gardens. And this re-enforces the perception that a program producer must sell out to the congloms if they want to reach the mass TV audience.

Let me put this another way. Suppose that I decide I want to start producing TV programs, and I decide that I will make them available via the OpenDTV website. How may viewers would know the search terms needed to find that content. You can be certain that the congloms or TV Guide are not going to link to it...

 And only a handful of people - like you - have full web search
 capabilities associated with their TVs.

That is ENTIRELY the fault of the on-the-take CE companies. Sorry, but your argument doesn't hold water. It is up to the CE companies to wake up and do what is well understood, and for the content owners to put their stuff on the web and to make it available to search engines. There is no new technology needed in any of this. Apple doesn't have anything to add here.

As I said above, all the technology pieces exist, although additional refinement is need to make all of the new mobile devices work happily together in the family room. I disagree that Apple has nothing to add here; I fully expect that they will lead the way, as they have over the past decade.

Case in point: Google TV. They provided a framework for CE manufacturers to integrate the stuff you want. It went NOWHERE because they did not solve the real problems. Discovery and Human Interface - the mouse on the couch syndrome.

And my take is, if people started demanding decent connected TVs, or taking their own fate in their own hands, the content owners would be forced to meet their needs. Or risk losing audience big time.

Without the content people really want, connected TVs are worthless - just get a Roku, Play Station, X-Box, WiiU, or Apple TV and you can access the limited content available via Netflix, and Hulu.But if you want ESPN, be prepared to pay for an MVPD subscription, even if you only want to access their content on a smartphone or tablet.

Now Bert suddenly changes his position:

First, this is about content and not about technology. The technology exists and is very well understood by manufacturers and by users.

But even then, what you say is not entirely the case. The major networks - all of them - are making their FOTA stuff available as VOD, with additional features added. And some previously cable-only content is also available free online, e.g. Lifetime movies, or the Jon Stewart the Daily Show, http://www.hulu.com/#!watch/432869, on Hulu free. Or HGTV shows on hgtv.com. And I'm sure there's more that I haven't bothered to find. So honestly, Craig, you're simply not seeing the bigger picture.

All of this stuff is controlled by the congloms and a few independents like Scripps Howard that are more than happy to play the bundling game.

Thanks for making my point!


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