Cable Operators Rush Services To Keep Edge

Peter Grant, who has covered Comcast and the cable industry for some time at the WSJ, has a nice overview of the changing competitive landscape around cable. On the occassion of CTAM, he notes how both the Telco TV flavor of IPTV and Internet TV present new challenges for cable. Brightcove gets a nice passing mention as one such company in the mix.

We don't believe this is a zero-sum game. The shape of future video consumption will change gradually over time. It will be increasingly more important to provide viewers with the choice and control they've now come to expect from the Internet and the quality they are accustomed to from cable.

Personally, I think the telcos are missing a ripe opportunity to approach this new market in a different kind of open way. Truly differentiate from cable, rather than just replicate the same model. They should take a page from the DBS playbook and also look at the explosion of IP-enabled TV devices in Asia. Why not create a set of standards and specs - a TV network OS of sorts - and then open the platform up to consumer electronics manufacturers. Sony could make sure the next PlayStation was SBC and Verizon-compatible. Samsung would join the fray with their innovative devices. This is a little bit like the CableCard technology that has been forced on the cable industry. I say embrace it and support innovation on top of your platform. The telcos could still work with Yahoo as a featured online service of sort - with IM, mail, shopping and other services available on the TV. But a consumer would be free to stroll down to Best Buy and choose to buy device they prefer. Tech support at the device level would be pushed out to the CE companies and far fewer truck rolls would be required.

Anyway. On to the WSJ article:

The other threat to cable from the Internet comes from companies ranging from giants like Microsoft Corp. to start-ups like Akimbo Systems Inc. that are enabling consumers with high-speed Internet connections to download content off the Web onto computers or set-top boxes connected to their TVs. Here too, the amount of possible content is nearly unlimited. Computers with Microsoft's Media Center software, for example, can show thousands of online movies on a TV screen from such online sources as Movielink and CinemaNow. Late last year, Akimbo began selling a set-top box with an Internet hookup that offers TV content from 125 providers in 50 categories, including video Web logs, or blogs.

So far, consumer response to these download services has been lukewarm, partly because viewers haven't been bowled over by the quality of the content. But demand might pick up as more players start moving additional content from the Web to the TV, notably TiVo Inc.; a venture of SBC and satellite-TV company EchoStar Communications Corp.; and start-ups DaveTV and Brightcove Networks Inc.

Link: - Cable Operators Rush Services To Keep Edge.