Archive for the ‘Streaming Television’ Tag

Open Letter to HBO: Be Like Netflix, Not Like Hulu

Dear Home Box Office.

I’m a big fan, dating back to the late 1970s when my uncle showed me Rocky on his brand new 10′ satellite dish, so I was excited to learn about your new streaming service HBO Go.

HBO Go Logo

Immediately after hearing about it’s existence I rushed to my computer, pulled up the site, and clicked “Sign Up”. That’s when I found out that only Comcast and Verizon cable TV customers who buy HBO through their cable company can watch.

What a missed opportunity. I was ready to open up my wallet and pay for content that I find worth paying for, but found out in addition to paying for HBO I would have to pay for cable TV, too.

Here’s 10 cents worth of free advice: Stop thinking of yourself as a cable channel or as a TV network and think of yourself as an entertainment provider. Stop paying Verizon and Comcast to be your middlemen. Take my money directly, like Netflix.

Be Like Netflix
For $8.99 a month, Netflix lets me stream from their website and they give access to their API so their service can be integrated into my TV, BluRay Player, or Boxee Box. (Almost 50% of their customer base stream content). No, it’s not perfect. It’s got DRM and it’s Silverlight-based so you can’t watch it on your iPhone (yet). Most content is Still SD and the HD content is only 720p. But it’s easy to use and more importantly it’s easy to pay for. It’s flexible in how I use their service and doesn’t try to nickel and dime the hardware vendors that are helping them grow – unlike Hulu.

Hulu’s Misstep
The Content Providers (ahem TV Networks FOX, NBC, and ABC) that own Hulu want Boxee et al to pay them for the privelege of pointing traffic at them (which is like wanting the phone company to pay you for printing your number in their phone book) and is attempting to block them in an effort to force negotiations, going so far as to falsely characterize their action as “illegally taking” in Congressional hearings. Why? Because they are too busy fretting over lost banner ad revenue and disproportionate per-impression ad rates compared to cable to see that Boxee is pointing a money firehose at them and pressure is just beginning to build.

…which, if you aren’t paying attention, is the same mistake NewsCorp (Owner of FOX and 1/3 owner of Hulu) and the Associated Press are making with Google News, too.

“Thanks for the customers. Now you owe me money for sending them my way. Even though your recommendations keep me afloat and I would probably be bankrupt without them, you made money by recommending me, so I deserve a cut. You must pay to advertise me.”

Hulu is doing more right than wrong, but their mistake of tying their service to a web page instead of allowing it on a TV is harming them more than helping them – much like your need to tie your online service to your cable channel will harm more than help you.

I understand that contractually you are obligated to do (and not to do) certain things, but I would hope that you see my point of view and can see the value in a cable-optional internet streaming site.

Thanks for listening,
– Gerald

P.S. For what it’s worth: I think Hulu should abandon the paywall idea, pack their site with content, license and control use of their API, grow their user base, and then negotiate better “per impression” ad rates for their in-line ads. A model I don’t recommend for you, HBO, nor for Netflix.

Gorge Yourself on Streaming TV @ TVGorge.com

And pssst… no geo restrictions. Welcome non-US Streamers. Get it while it lasts. I mean, seriously. Look at the list of shows.

TVGorge.com

and it keeps going….

the list continues

…and going…

and continues

Check it out yourself.

TVGorge.com

Have You Switched From Cable to The Internet? 36% Say “Yes”, another 82% Say “Some”.

Back in March ’09 I asked: Have you switched from Cable to The Internet? The results were incredible. Back then, 1 in 4 (24%) had made the switch completely. I said I would keep you posted if things change.

Jan 2010 poll: 36% Yes, 82% Some

As of today, more than 1/3 of those polled (36%) have cut the cable and gone all-internet.

The biggest leap is those that answered “some”. Back then just over half of those polled (52%) had streamed or downloaded some TV. At the time, I could hardly believe the number was so large …but now 4 out of 5 polled (82%) are getting some content via the internet.

Disclaimer: This poll is ongoing, therefore flawed, but it illustrates an unmistakable trend that is getting too big to ignore.

Take the poll here.

Is Wal-Mart buying Vudu?

Vudu, the HD-service that wouldn’t die has started expanding past it’s own hardware and is looking to pull a Netflix and get in set-top boxes, Blu-Ray Players, TVs, and… Wal-Mart? That’s what AllThingsD‘s Peter Kafka thinks.

Money Quote:

Sources tell me Web video start-up Vudu is in “meaningful” acquisition discussions, and industry executives believe Wal-Mart is the likely buyer.

Read the whole thing over @ AllThingsD

MG Siegler NAILS IT on the Netflix/Warner Bros Deal

I was getting ready to type up my views on the Netflix’s announcement when I ran across an article @ TechCrunch called “Netflix Stabs Us In The Heart So Hollywood Can Drink Our Blood

Money Quote:

The problem here is that the assumption is that Hollywood will be ready and willing to favorably deal with Netflix in the future for streaming. Mark my words, that will only happen if and when piracy becomes a problem. Do we really believe that Hollywood wants to give Netflix (or anyone else) movies to stream early rather than having people buy them first? No, it’s the exact same problem. It’s a problem of greed.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Hulu Coming to the iPhone; will be “Badass”.

Dan Frommer writes:

Hulu is in the process of developing an app for Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and iPod touch, we have learned from a plugged-in industry executive. The app is coming soon (within a few months) and is “badass” — as excellent as Hulu’s Web site. Video will work over both wi-fi and 3G, we’re told

via Business Insider

Hulu is #4 with a bullet!

Erick Schonfeld writes:

Hulu jumped two spots to become the fourth largest video site in the U.S. in February, according to the latest data from comScore VideoMetrix. Hulu drew an audience of 34.7 million people who watched 332.5 million video streams. That is a 42 percent increase in unique U.S. visitors, up from 24.5 million in January, and a 33 percent increase in streams, up from and 250.5 million streams.

In a single month, Hulu overtook Viacom and Microsoft in total viewers and video streams (see January data). And Hulu is catching up to No. 3 video site Yahoo, which streamed 353.5 million streams in February. Fox Interactive (MySpace) was No. 2 with 462.6 million streams. And YouTube once again blew everyone else out of the water with 5.3 billion streams.

Hulu Gains 10 Million Viewers In February, Now No. 4 Video Site In U.S. @ TechCrunch

Hand Talks Out of Its Ass: Sock Puppet thinks Boxee steals from Hulu.

[Update: Edited for clarity and to fix grammatical errors]

Lately, many people who are ignorant of how the internet and APIs work are showing off their ignorance.

Loren Feldmen does it twice in one video. First by choosing a video host that doesn’t allow embedding (and expecting the internet to still behave like it did in 2006), second by suggesting that Boxee is stealing content from Hulu.

He says it himself at the beginning: Boxee is a browser for your TV. Yet at around the four minute mark he says:

Boxee (now) takes Hulu (ok) AND the content that Hulu cut deals with. Now Lets Talk about the content.

Then he goes on to rant about how taking content is wrong, and that artists deserve compensation.

The problem is: Boxee is no more stealing content from Hulu than Firefox is.

Yes, taking content is wrong. However, no one took anything. You just kinda breezed over that fact.

The content is the exact same content users of the website see in Fullscreen Mode. Boxee is just a browser.

Hulu is still serving up the content and still serving up the ads.

The Sock Puppet thinks that somehow pulling up a website in a different browser makes it “from a different provider”, and that if you use Boxee you aren’t getting your content from Hulu. The rest of his rant is based on this misconception.

Anyway, back to the Sock Puppet:

You guys get so hooked in with the fuckin’ distribution that you forget about the content. The content is having to deal with Charlie Sheen @ $600,000 a week, showing up drunk, so you can fucking watch it on Hulu. Ok. They cut those deals.

OK. There’s so much wrong there. I’ll start with Charlie Sheen. Mr. Sheen works for Chuck Lorre Productions. He does not work with anyone connected with Hulu or it’s corporate parents.

Next, you seem to be using “Content” interchangeably to refer to both “Content Producers” and “Content Distributers”. You’re falling for the same trick the RIAA pulls when it behaves as if they are the ones making the music.

Most television shows are made by independent production companies and are merely distributed by TV networks. (That’s what all those cards at the end of every show are all about.)

The production company gets compensated when they sell (first-)broadcast rights to a block of episodes. Often they will pre-sell the show before filming anything other than a single episode. Often they will seek Network funding to pay for the single episode in return for first pick-up rights. This is what gives laymen the impression that the networks make the shows. The money is flowing from the network, but it’s payment for a delivery. (The network makes money by “giving away” the shows via live broadcast stream, and selling ad time at a rate based on the number of eyeballs the “give away” brings in.)

[This isn’t how ALL TV Procuction is done. Some shows sell all their rights to the Networks including aftermarket (syndication and DVD) rights, others sell their rights to Domestic Television Distributors (who then license them to the Networks), and some shows actually ARE produced in-house (but very little of it is Primetime content). The point is: One all-encompassing label, like “Content” or “Content Provider” gives distributors too much credit and works on the assumption that the producer isn’t going to find a new distributor. (It happens. “Scrubs” jumped from NBC to ABC this year). ]

Anyway, back to the Sock Puppet:

Boxee took TV Shows from the web and put back on your TV

No. They didn’t. Boxee is a browser. It’s a computer program, It doesn’t run on a TV. It runs on a computer. If someone connects that computer to a TV you don’t magically deserve more money because the picture is bigger and the viewer can sit in a comfy chair.

Besides, a digital TV screen is nothing but a computer monitor. Boxee can’t be held liable for the size of people’s computer monitors.

And Now the guys who create The TV

You mean “The guys who distribute licensed shows”

…are saying “Listen. We don’t want it on Boxee”.

How about Opera? Is Safari OK? What about IE?

Dumbasses.

You don’t want it on Boxee? I got news for you. The Makers of that content want it on Boxee, and sooner or later, we’ll have our Nine Inch Nails / Radiohead and they WILL bypass you.

If you’re going to watch TV on a TV, how about this: WATCH IT ON FUCKING TV. IS THAT SO UNFAIR? They’re already dealing with DVRs, OnDemand… they’re paying Charlie Sheen. You’re not.

It is not your customer’s job to support your business model.

If you make less money per viewer because that viewer watched it Via Web Browser vs Via Cable then you got screwed in negotiations.

As we are moving from one type of distribution model to another, all the middlemen are trying to take bigger bites than they used to have.

Content Makers (not distributors) need to realize:
1. the dollar-to-eyeball ratio is the most important metric,
2. the distributers will screw both the people they buy content from AND the people they sell content to, if you don’t watch them
3. the distributers will cloud the subject with red herrings.

People watching Hulu in Boxee rather than Firefox is a Red Herring to distract from the REAL problems with internet video advertising revenue and artist compensation.

If the eyeballs-per-dollar ratio the advertisers are paying Hulu isn’t the same as broadcast/cable/satellite – that’s a problem.

If the eyeballs-per-dollar ratio Hulu is paying The Networks isn’t the same as broadcast/cable/satellite – that’s a problem.

If the eyeballs-per-dollar ratio the Networks are paying the people who actually make the content isn’t the same as broadcast/cable/satellite – that’s a problem.

It’s about the content, not the web site.
The red herring worked. In order to to stress that you should watch it on the Hulu website, The Sock Puppet keeps repeating:

Boxee is just an add-on. A browser. It’s all about the content.

Take your own advice Sock Puppet: Stop focusing on the browser. Stop focusing on the web site. It’s about the content of the stream. Hulu is Hulu in every browser! In Firefox, Safari, IE, or on Boxee; it all comes from the same place and 100% of the in-line ads get passed along. Boxee’s existence in no way lessens the number of streamed ads that get fed to eyeballs.

Hulu’s corporate parents behave as if the point of the endeavor is the website. Content is the bait to get eyeballs to the website (just like a TV network), and ad sales will pay for the website (just like a TV network). Unfortunately, that business model only works if your viewers are coming to see the website itself and only care about the video content as much as the wallpaper and the flash ads.

Advertisers: Hulu can’t deliver on a promise that the number of eyeballs that watched the stream will be equal to the number of eyeballs that saw a banner ad.

Banner ad impressions should be measured independently and sold to advertisers separately from the in-line ads. If they aren’t, then the advertisers should be demanding to know why not. Hulu shouldn’t be bundling all their different advertising methods (banners, pop-ups, in-line) into a single unified price scheme.

If they ARE priced and sold separately, then this is the biggest overreaction to a browser I’ve seen in a long time.

If Hulu was smart, it would license the API for their stream.
It should be done for two reasons: a) to insure proper usage and accurate viewership counting, and b) to allow for a Network TV style price structure where ad revenue for in-line ads would scale up with viewership. The money generated from the website would become “icing on an API cake” rather than the cornerstone of the business model.

Hulu can make more money on a raw stream than their website could ever generate. Remember: It’s about the content. With Boxee, viewers watch shows and ads. What’s the problem?

If you don’t like the dollars-to-eyeballs ratio of streaming your video, negotiate for comparable-to-broadcast rates. Bitching because your viewer is legally watching via a more convenient legally available method is stupid and pointless.

The Sock Puppet finishes up by saying that micropayments are the future, and every show worth watching will be charging. You’ll pay or not watch.

Good Luck stuffing the genie back in that bottle. It worked so well for the RIAA and the MPAA.

.
[UPDATE: Four days after posting, I went back to his site to catch up on the reaction to my Trackback, if any, and found the link gone, the comments closed, and nary a mention of this piece. Read into that whatever you want.]

More on TV’s Autopsy

Media Analyst Don Cole traveled 200,000 miles per year annually for decades visited with local TV stations, cable interconnects, magazines, clients, client prospects, and all sorts of new media sales teams.

He believes that Nothing Can Replace Television and It Almost Has!

He gives wonderful write-up on the progression that the cancer that network tv is suffering from.

He begins with where the symptoms are worst and (ironically) least visible: Local Affiliates.

What I see and hear stuns me. The broadcast media, as a group, are in almost complete denial about what is going on in our world of media. When the relentless march of broadcast fragmentation is brought up, local station people respond with “have you seen our local news. It is extraordinary.” I have and it is not.

Ask industry people about how DVR’s are changing the effectiveness of TV as an advertising medium and the more mature (in age only) say something to the effect that they hope they will be retired before the effects are truly felt in the marketplace. What kind of answer is that?.

He touches on our POV a bit.

Today’s consumers are now in control and they are not going back to being passive viewers again. Life “on-demand’ appeals to people. DVR’s, blogs, You tube, Hulu.com, The Slingbox, streaming video, new cable platforms, and many other possibilities have permanently upset the TV landscape. Watch how a young adult uses media–are you positioning your campaigns to reach young people well or at all for that matter?

…but then goes into Protectionist Mode.

There is also a terrible danger with the presence of legacy mentalities out there. People sit in meetings and nod vigorously when I say that TV is losing its luster as a sales medium. But, moments later they say something to the effect that the solution to TV’s slow death is simply adding more weight. Add more weight? They will still miss the people that they are missing now! All additional weight will do is add significant frequency to the same folks they reach now who are heavy TV viewers and not always the most desirable prospects.

He does touch on TV’s tool as a currently-ubiquitous communication medium and laments the loss of roadblocks and vertical strikes, but fails to understand that the underlying goal that those tools provided – to get information out to a majority percentage of the population – will not die with it.

Just as the death of newspapers doesn’t mark the end of journalism, the death of TV isn’t killing mass-media.

The middlemen will shift. Those that adapt will survive. Those who would apply radio rules to magazines and billboard rules to TV will try to get TV rules to apply to the internet.

Watch.

Have You Switched From Cable to The Internet? 24% Say “Yes”, another 52% Say “Some”.

An Internet Poll asks: Have you switched from Cable to The Internet?

In early results, 52% says they either stream or download shows, and a full 24% of those who responded answered “Yes! I’ve cut the cable and am a 100% internet TV watcher.”

I’ll keep you posted if things change.

Digg @ Digg.com

Tiny Arrow URL: http://➹.ws/ﱴ

Remember when home taping was going to kill Hollywood?

piratebay-comic

The Pirate Bay.

Boxee MeetUp March 24th in NYC

Speaking of Boxee, if you live in New York (or will happen to be there on March 24), then you should check out the boxee meetup.

They will be releasing a new alpha version during the event and will “share some concrete plans for the beta”.

If you DO attend, send me some pictures.

Internet Television Test, Week 38: Using an iPhone 3G as my TV remote [Updated]

My Mac doesn’t have a remote control. It predates the Apple Remote by a year (and even if it didn’t, towers don’t have IR sensors).

I could buy a USB IR sensor and an Apple Remote, buy I’d also have to buy software to make the IR sensor work. Total cost: $50+

For $30ish, I could just buy a RF remote with a USB dongle, but then I wouldn’t have the sleek Apple Remote. Instead, I’d be controlling my Mac with something that looks like a garage door opener.

Eight months have passed. IR remotes got worse and RF remotes got better, but I never bought either one.

Instead, my wife got an iPhone.

[She’s nearly got me convinced that I can’t live without one, but I’m holding off as long as I can. My trusty Nokia 6102i is barely two years old, but is breaking. Scotch tape has been holding it together for almost two months, but the other day a small metal piece popped out of the hinge and disappeared into the fourth dimension. Now, every time I flip it open it gets a little worse. I just need it to survive until June/July when the new iModels come out.]

On her phone we have VLC Remote, Remote, and Rowmote.

Currently Rowmote is getting the most use. It integrates directly with Front Row and behaves exactly like an Apple Remote, but Remote’s new iTunes DJ integration looks like fun.

The only problem is: When she’s not home, I don’t have a remote controller!

UPDATE: The guys at Boxee shot out an e-mail letting me know that they have a remote in the App Store, but until I get a new Mac or Boxee shows some PPC love, I’ll have to admire from a distance.

Content Providers deal Boxee a fatal blow, Hulu to suffer most.

While they guys at Hulu try to put a positive spin on it by asking that we keep an eye on the bigger picture, things at Boxee is less cheerful.

In the words of Gizmodo’s Matt Buchanan, this is a steaming pile of suck.

Engadget’s Ben Drawbaugh give a glimmer of hope by suggesting that this may signal great things to come.

Hulu to reveal The Big Secret on Super Bowl Sunday.

In a press release, Hulu writes “During Super Bowl XLIII this Sunday, look for the launch of Hulu’s ad campaign. Finally, we’ll reveal the secret behind Hulu.”

Caroline McCarthy said it best.

Ooh! Secrets! I love secrets! Clearly we will learn one of three things this Sunday:
1. Hulu is the Matrix.
2. Hulu is Luke Skywalker’s father.
3. Hulu is people.

Hulu (via Cnet)

New Google Tools Determine if Your ISP Is Blocking BitTorrent

Michael Calore of Wired writes:

Next time you’re dealing with a dreadfully slow internet connection, you can ask Google what’s causing the trouble.

The company announced a new open platform Wednesday called Measurement Lab, or M-Lab for short. As part of the initial launch, M-Lab includes three publicly accessible tools, including a tool called Glasnost that tests whether BitTorrent traffic is being blocked, throttled or otherwise impeded on your broadband connection.

Find the tests @ Measurement Lab (via Wired)

Streaming Superbowl XLIII

It seemed to me the Bittorrents for the last few Superbowls were mildy popular, but that’s just my observation. I have no stats to back that up. Superbowl broadcast ratings are down. They’ve been down for years. That’s well known.

What isn’t known is how the NFL plans to bring it’s product into the 21st century.

The NFL’s bread and butter has always been the play-by-play broadcast of their games. Other football leagues focused on ticket sales and merchandising or on community spirit. The NFL made their money hopping from network to network to show their precious games and sold the Big Game to the highest bidder. Big Brother even had to step in and make the NFL play fair and give everybody a turn, if I remember correctly.

Has there been ANY sort of an announcement of the NFL’s plans to accommodate the post-television generation? The Official Superbowl Page has a countdown clock and tons of hype… but nothing about how to watch the actual game.

Politics wised up. After a terrible online showing during the election gave bootleg streams of CNN great ratings, we were buried in options for streaming live video of the Inauguration. Will this be the moment that Sports learns the hard way?

There’s a ton of money on the table for the advertiser in the browser window of the re-streaming service that will be hosting the bootleg stream. Will it be uStream.TV this time, again, or will everybody be watching a freed Sling Stream?

Internet Television Test, Week 27: Six Months Without Cable and I’ve Missed Nothing

Last night when I told my wife it has been six months since we dropped cable, she couldn’t believe it. She was taken aback. The got weirded out about it again this morning as she was pulling up her daily episode of Hart to Hart.

Six months? Really? It doesn’t feel that long. I guess because it’s gotten so easy.

Like having a child, she is so happy with the result that she doesn’t even remember the labor pains. The only real difference in our TV viewing habit is the loss of the remote control (which I hope to remedy, soon).

Has it really gotten that easy, or are we just used to it?

This thought has been on my mind since New Year’s Eve. My family came to visit and my brother, who can’t send an e-mail and defers his web browsing to his fiancee, leapt toward the computer when I pulled up the Three Stooges page on Hulu. He spent the rest of the morning in Saturday Morning Cartoon Mode. He clicked until he found the episode he’d been looking for for years.

Back to the conversation with my wife.

Easy? That’s because everything is set up and bookmarked! I make this LOOK easy!

When she stopped laughing, she kissed me and went to make toast.

I kept wondering if it’s easy for us because it’s all bookmarked and we’ve found all our current shows, or if it’s really gotten that easy for everyone.

The networks have been doing an excellent job of pimping their websites, so I decided to start there.

I went to all the broadcast and cable network sites I could think of. I’ll be posting a write-up soon. (UPDATE: Link). Some (Like ABC and ABC News) were greatly improved, while others (The Discovery Channel) seem to not get the concept.

Then there’s the subject of the shows we DON’T stream.

I’ve come to the conclusion that in January 2009 streaming TV is easier than it used to be, but still not there yet, and bittorrent/RSS is still too difficult for the masses.

More and more people are cutting the cable to go all-internet, but we still don’t have a killer set top box. You can’t expect people to choose between watching on a computer and hooking a computer up to a TV.

AppleTV needs streaming, The Roku box needs downloads, TiVo needs to cut the cable, and a game console is a poor substitute for a dedicated internet television device.

Whoever gets the streaming/download balance correct can rule the Widescreen.
I’m looking at you, Boxee.

This year promises to be interesting.

MacWorld 2009: Free AppleTV 3.0 Update?

AppleTV could stand some improvement.
The AppleTV is deceptively powerful, and Apple could make it much more useful without having to resort to adding a TV Tuner, DVR Features. or a BluRay drive. In fact, they can do it with a Take 3 Software Update.

Free? How Can It Be Free?
Apple accounts for the AppleTV using the same subscription accounting method that they use for the iPhone.

This allows Apple to roll out major revisions free of charge without going afoul of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for two whole years after purchase*.

The first AppleTVs rolled out at the end of the first week of March 2007, putting MacWorld 2009 well within the 2-year window.

One More Thing
An update to this little hobby of Steve’s isn’t big enough news to get stage time. I’m sure it will be reported on the rumor sites along with bumps to the Mac Pro and the XServe, while the keynote will be spent talking about iPhone and App Store sales, iLife/iWork ’09, or a new Mac mini with a mini-DisplayPort and an extra USB 2.0 in place of DVI and firewire.

We’re due for another bi-annual jaw-dropper “one more thing”, but unless it’s a teleporter or a time machine, it’s hard to imagine that the rumor mill doesn’t know already.

How many rabbits can one man pull out of a hat in one career, anyway? If it’s a tablet, a cube, a game console, a VR helmet, a video phone, a WiMAX/whitespace VoIP phone, a car, or an airplane the rumor mill already has processed the patents and mocked up advertisements.

I’m keeping my expectations low: AppleTV 3.0 (with one of these two features) and a new Mac mini.

* The Sarbanes-Oxley Act does not say “two-years” specifically, it just works out to two years in Apple’s case because of the accounting method. SBA does not apply to minor revisions and/or bug-fixes nor to companies based outside of the USA (although some countries do have equivalent laws in place).

How To Fix The AppleTV (Hint: It’s not DVR functionality)

During the long stretch between Last Hardware Updates Of The Year and MacWorld there is little news coming out of Apple, Inc.. This is the time of year when Apple Talk turns from news and rumors to OpEd pieces.

In the last month, I’ve read more than a few articles telling the world what Apple needs to do to “fix” the AppleTV and send sales through the roof. Most of these articles recommend adding a DVR or an optical drive or both.

I hope not. AppleTV is a box for internet-delivered content.

Americans need to re-think Video Delivery
Americans think that you “get TV” from broadcast/cable/satellite and “get movies” come from shiny discs and Premium Channels. Therefore, anything that wants to rule the big screen will have to handle the content coming to it via these means.

…but what if TV and Movies came via internet? What if every single piece of programming that the cable company wants you to pay them to send to you could be sent via the internet connection you already have?

What if you could pull up a TV show as easily as a web page? What if you could subscribe to a TV show as easily as subscribing to a mailing list or an RSS feed?

Stop wondering “what if?”, because it’s all possible today.

(Now that you know this, how long before YOU cut the cable?)

AppleTV isn’t perfect
AppleTV needs to do better, not do more. The machine needs to be a better internet-delivered entertainment device. With this in mind, it’s easy to see where Apple TV could improve.

In addition to a processor/memory/storage bump, the AppleTV Take 3 should boast one of the two following features:

App Store / Plug-Ins
Yes, I know you can use plug-ins now. I also know they’ve gone from hacking and jailbraking-level mods to plug-and-play simplicity, but in the end… they’re still hacks.

We need an Apple-sanctioned solution to adding Boxee, Plex, Joost, or even games to the AppleTV. An App-store like package manager can easily do the trick.

Also, an App store would allow Netflix and Apple to combine forces without an official partnership.

It is widely known that Apple makes the bulk of it’s money on hardware sales and all other endeavors (including the iTunes store) work with the slimmest of profit margins. Apple is in the hardware business, first and foremost. Netflix is not.

Netflix doesn’t make ANY hardware, instead they are doing their damnedest to get their SaaS on everything from TiVo to XBox360 to Macs and PCs to your cable box. It is certain that they would make an App Store app.

Plug-ins boost the value of Apple’s hardware offering with minimal effort and minimal OS bloat.

– or –

Hulu
Apple needs to show the world that there is more free content than just Podcasts and YouTube Rants available online.

Streaming new/current TV Shows from Hulu beats Netflix’s tiny and ancient TV offering, plus Hulu is as free as broadcast, but with fewer commercials.

With MGM adding full-length movies to AppleTV via YouTube, adding Hulu to AppleTV at the factory will make it a REAL linear-delivery killer.

Having Hulu on the main menu next to YouTube would boost the value of Apple’s hardware offering with minimal effort and minimal OS bloat.

[Update: As someone pointed out to me, The Take 3 Software (if released before February) would be free to all AppleTV owners, thanks to the iPhone-like accounting method Apple uses.]

What AppleTV DOESN’T need is DVR features.
DVRs are for wrangling [linear-delivered video] sent on [a proprietary network].
AppleTV is for sorting [non-linear delivered video] sent on [the open internet].

Like a Gas Dryer vs an Electric Dryer, they’re incompatible with (and redundant to) each other. They do the “same” thing, but in two different ways; and no one needs both.

Yet, some people still don’t get it.

Thanks to non-linear deliverable video available on the open internet, I no longer pay a cable or satellite bill and I’m not missing any of my favorite shows.

In it’s current state, AppleTV can help wean you off of cable and satellite… but only if you combine it with Bittorrent, TVrss.net, and VisualHub. Hulu-on-AppleTV makes those other tools unnecessary, makes television-over-internet as simple as a DVR, and makes it that much easier to “cut the cable”.

Without cable, you don’t NEED a machine to wrangle it.

AppleTV DOESN’T NEED a DVD or BluRay Drive
Optical discs can compliment internet delivery, but I feel a dedicated box (like a DVD or BluRay Player) is a better solution for anything with moving parts.

I bought my first two DVD Players in 1998. A Creative Labs DxR2 for the computer and a Panasonic A110u for the television. Since then, I’ve gone through 5 DVD drives and 4 stand-alone players.

Luckily, each replacement was cheaper, faster, and had more features that the one it was replacing; although each one also got lighter and more fragile feeling, too.

Like component AV equipment, the optical disc player and the internet-delivered content player should remain as separate as the cassette player and the CD Player.

But that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.