Jul. 31, 2008

CBS on the DSM-520

We are not abandoning the DSM-520 or ActiveTV application! I know there has been a lot of buzz around PlayOn - the new Xbox360/PS3 product, but that does not mean that we don't love the 520. In fact, much of the development we are doing for PlayOn will enable us to enhance ActiveTV as well.

I received an email today asking: Was hoping to see something for the DSM520 and CBS.com...any details?

So - we currently have CBS.com running on the DSM-520 in a Beta version which I mentioned a while back. It is still Beta because we haven't perfected the ad units yet (we are working on that), but otherwise it is fully-functional. If you want to check it out, you can email me at tracy@themediamall.com and I can get you into the Beta program so that you can watch your favorite CBS shows on your big screen TV!

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Jul. 30, 2008

T-19 and Counting!

We are on track to launch the PlayOn Beta for the PS3 and Xbox360 in 19 days! It is looking great. We have decided on the name PlayOn (what do ya think?) for the product that will allow you to PLAY Hulu, YouTube, CBS.com, and ESPN.com ON your TV via your PS3 or Xbox360. We are still rounding up Beta users, and in fact I just received an email yesterday from a gamer that works over at Yahoo! Videogames, and I quote:

"Sounds awesome! I was just complaining to a friend the other day that I can't watch Hulu on my bigscreen because it doesn't let you download the video and stream it. So count me in for the beta. ;)"

Thanks Richard - we are excited too! And - if you have a PS3, Xbox360 or HP MediaSmart TV, you can be a Beta user as well -- just shoot an email to tracy@themediamall.com and let me know what device you have, and we will put you on the list for the August 18th Beta release. Oh - and like all Betas, the release will be free for Beta users! So, come on and join in the countdown fun!

Cheers!

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Jul. 24, 2008

Webtrends Enhances Video Analytics

Webtrends just announced that they have enhanced their video tracking metrics to enable advertisers to better measure the results of (and return on) their video advertising. This is good news as video advertising increases in importance. And, it is critical to those of us who will depend upon video advertising to support our product.

Our hope is to enable you to watch your favorite YouTube and Hulu videos on your TV. And - we want to make this VERY affordable (as free as possible). In order to do that, we plan to support the service with unobtrusive ads that run while you are searching for your video. In order for any advertisers to be interested, we will need to supply these critical metrics as to how much of the ad you saw, and if you expressed interest in learning more about the product. Webtrends and other services such as Visible Measures make reporting on video ads as data rich as static web ads - a critical piece to this developing medium.

So - as we continue on our quest to get your favorite videos off your computer and onto your TV, it is good to know that the supporting industries are evolving as well. Spread the news to potential advertisers - we still have some ad space available on ActiveTV!

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Jul. 21, 2008

OK - So I'm Not a Gamer

So I have been visiting the many PS3, Xbox360, and Wii forums to try to figure out how to garner interest for beta users of our new game console product (I blogged about here)...and I have realized that I am SO not a gamer! The lingo, the avatars, the passion for games and game consoles - it's intimidating! I LOVE video (ok, mildly addicted) and the internet has the best library around -- so Active-TV really appeals to me. I think folks who have PS3s/Xboxs/Wiis will be psyched to use them to play internet video on their TVs, but the fact of the matter is - I really don't know how to talk to them. So - if you know of a way to get in front of a bunch of gamers or want to help out -- let me know!

Some of the gamer forums I have come across include: gamepro, ps3forums, boardsus.playstation.com, psu.com, and playfire. If you know of others -- let me know as well!

tracy@themediamall.com

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Jul. 17, 2008

Finally -- Tivo and YouTube

So according to Adweek, some Tivo owners can finally watch YouTube on their TV! Bummer that it is only thousands that have a powerful enough box to do so. Tivo despirately needs to embrace Broadband Video as its increasing relevance may negate the need for Tivo altogether (with sites like Hulu and ABC.com). This is a step in the right direction -- as I mentioned in my post on Broadband's Abundance.

We want to take it much farther than the thousands who will be able to watch YouTube on their TV via their Tivo -- we want to open up not just YouTube, but also Hulu and ESPN.com and CBS.com and CNN.com to the millions (over 5 million) of folks who have PS3s or Xbox360s -- so they can watch these Internet-based videos on their TVs. I mentioned this on my last blog post where I invited PS3 owners and Xbox360 owners to try out our Beta. The offer is still open - email me at tracy@themediamall.com.

As always - would love to hear your thoughts!

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Jul. 10, 2008

Moving Beyond the DSM-520

We have had great feedback from our DSM-520 users, and we want to offer ActiveTV to many more users!  We are completing development on a UPnP version of ActiveTV...it will first be available for the PS3, XBox 360, and HP MediaSmart TV.  It will offer a limited but powerful set of video content sources, including Hulu, YouTube, CBS.com, CNN.com, ESPN.com, and Netflix.  WOW.  And -- to kick it all off, we are offering a FREE Beta version for folks who have one of these game consoles/TVs.  If you are interested in participating in our Beta, you can subscribe to this blog (we will be offering all subscribers the Beta version) or drop me an email at tracy@themediamall.com and I'll make sure you get on the Beta list!  It is still about 2 months out, but it is something to look forward to this fall!

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Jun. 16, 2008

Welcome Summer - Let the Party Begin!

Despite the rainy and cold weather we have had this Spring in Seattle, it seams the heat wave has really hit the east coast. And with the temperature rising, so are the tempers. I am talking about the cable MSO's tempers. It seems that they have gotten vocal about cable TV networks taking their content online. An article today in Advertising Age quotes Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt as saying "Guess What? We do mind" in response to a question regarding cable TV networks taking their content online for full-length web streaming. Apparently, Time Warner Cable even went so far as to threaten withholding subscriber revenue from Cable TV Networks that publish their content online.  MSO vs. Cable TV Network -- who are you betting on?

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May. 11, 2008

Active-TV.org

The Active-TV movement -- the ecosystem that is developing in support of a PC-assisted methodology for getting Internet-based content to your TV -- has a big supporter and resource in Daniel Mann. His recent post shows why PC-assist is a stronger technology than other proposed options. It is inexpensive -- it can be built into almost any networked STB or TV for a negligible increase to the Bill of Materials (BOM), and it is built for the future -- what I mean is that whatever new technologies are used on the Web to support video and other applications, Active-TV can handle them. Since Active-TV leverages the PC's processing power, and PC's can keep up with the new web technologies, it is an elegant solution to the problem. The other options don't offer affordability or sustainability. One option is to offer an expensive incremental STB, but many folks don't want another set-top, much less spend hundreds of dollars on it. Or, you can attempt to build it right into the TV, but in that case the technology will never be able to keep up with the web given the useful life of a TV is 8 yrs -- think about what video formats we were using 8 years ago, in 2000.... I didn't even watch video on the web back then. The fact that they are expensive and not "built to last" leads me to believe they are simply less elegant solutions. But, there is also lots of hesitancy around the Active-TV solution. PC-assist worries TV OEMs. They don't want the proper operation of their TV to depend on another device -- the PC. But -- they need to get over it. The PC is an asset, not a liability, and it can make the TV significantly more functional, opening the door to more content than we ever dreamed we'd be able to consume on our TVs.

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May. 1, 2008

Broadband's Abundance - What Does It Mean

Will Richmond's recent article on Broadand's Abundance really hit home with me. Excerpted:

"Broadband explodes the scarcity model, introducing a world of abundance in which every scarcity constraint is alleviated or erased. Abundance thinking has guided online retailers for years: offering incremental inventory is dirt-cheap, and if made easily discoverable, it will find its buyers."

This is sure to have a profound impact on Broadcast -- cable operators in particular -- and they will need to work to define their role in the Broadband TV/Video world. Why DVR your shows anymore -- when you can simply watch them when you want from the vast Internet library? There are a few reasons in today's world: (1) desire to watch on your TV vs PC and (2) quality. Getting the content from the Internet to your TV still isn't easy (that is what our product ActiveTV does, but it is still in its infancy). And, even with the available technologies, HD isn't an option -- the current Broadband networks simply can't handle High Definition. But, with the pace of advances in Broadband technology, can it be that long before consumer broadband can easily handle HD? And -- given the warm reception ActiveTV and related technologies are getting, can if be long before these become mass market? (I hope not!). 

For sure, it will take a while for Broadcast to go away (It tool 10ish years for Digital Cable to completely replace analog -- from the '96-'02 digital upgrade until '09 when analog will  completely, and in that case, the Cable Operators had incentive to eliminate analog).  The cable companies have one of the most powerful pipes into our homes - something that they can and do leverage as the landscape changes. I am interested to see how they take advantage of their power and address the logical change to storage of content on the Internet vs. at the cable Head End and on our DVRs and the delivery of content via Broadband vs. Broadcast/Cable. It will be an exciting evolution that will, for sure, take much longer than we expect.

What do you think will happen to cable as we know it?

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Apr. 23, 2008

RELEASE! and DSM 520 Upgrade

Here it is -- the last ActiveTV release...http://www.themediamall.com/dlink/install

Also -- If you are one of the select few who have version 1.04.xx of the D-Link MediaLounge software, you will need to manually upgrade your firmware -- this is because for whatever reason, D-Link doesn't recognize this as an older version (even though we are on .06 now). How do you know what version you have? On your 520, click the setup button on the Remote Control, then scroll down to version and enter.  If it says 1.04.xx or less, you will need to manually upgrade (the auto search won't upgrade you). To manually upgrade, put these 2 files on a usb key and plug the usb key into the front of your DSM 520 -- it will auto-detect and upgrade. This is not an ActiveTV upgrade, but gets you back on D-Link's official upgrade path so that you will get all future upgrades automatically (including the ActiveTV one posted above, which will be released by D-Link in the coming weeks).

Enjoy!

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Top FAQs

What is PlayOn?
PlayOn is software that you install on your Windows PC. It allows you to use your Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Roku, iPhone, Android phone or another supported device to access movies and shows from content providers like Hulu, Netflix, Comedy Central, CBS, YouTube, MLB.tv, your personal media, and many more. PlayOn is both browser and media server software, built into one. It browses content from various online providers, and displays that content directly on your TV, iPhone or Android phone.
How does it work?
PlayOn runs in the background on your PC over your home network. It uses standards called UPnP and DLNA to communicate with networked gaming consoles,TVs, and mobile phones working both as an internet browser to access online media and as a UPnP media server to serve videos to UPnP compliant devices. Learn more
How can I buy PlayOn?
Simply visit our buy page for our current pricing.