Over-the-top Set Top Box shootout teleconference

September 30, 2008

In less than an hour, I’ll be leading a Forrester teleconference to talk about the results of our over-the-top set top box shootout. We evaluated TiVo HD, Apple TV, HP MediaSmart Connect, VUDU, Netflix/Roku, and the unusual ZvBox. Clients can access the teleconference archive to see it after the fact. Or you can read the report the teleconference is based on. 

We had to pick a point in time to evaluate set tops that were available, though we know a few new ones are coming out soon, including the SlingCatcher, expect to hear more from me on that as it gets released. 

The cool thing about this teleconference and report is that we built a new model for evaluating any new technology product where you add up the consumer benefits the box provides (content, convenience, community, etc.) and then subtract the barriers that stand in the way of its adoption (like price, complexity, lack of a brand, etc.). It gives you a way to score a product against other products in its category, as well as in adjacent categories.

The bottom line is this: these set top boxes are all competing to win a distant second prize behind DVRs which are now getting close to 30% of all US households. Meanwhile, the PC is rising as a way to do much of what these set tops do, but in a more flexible (albeit complex to install and manage) way. In other words, this market will have to work hard to prove that it even is a market.

Biggest LED screen in the world

September 29, 2008

I have been predicting an increase in public displays, some linear and out of your control — CNN in the airport, the Target in-store end-cap displays — and some you will be able to interact with. Today, while in Philadelphia, I saw an increase in something I didn’t predict, but that I want for my very own. 

It’s the largest LED screen in the world and it lines an entire wall in the entryway to the Comcast Center in Philadelphia (new headquarters of Comcast and the tallest building in Philly now). According to Engadget, it’s 87 feet wide and 27 feet tall. The picture quality is 5x that of HD. Check out the quality:

The fun part is that when it is off, it pretends it is a wall made out of wood. See the picture below for some effects Comcast’s video designers have played with to make it looks like the images, animations, and even the weather forecast, pop off the wall.


The videowall pretends to be...a wall

The videowall pretends to be...a wall

Raises all sorts of ideas for how a videowall might be used inside your home some day. Imiagine that the video image pretends to be a static wall and can carve out space to show videos, weather forecasts, and pictures of the kids at summer camp.

Day In The Life Of Typical Viewer: 2008 vs. 2013

September 29, 2008

Let’s put some money where my mouth is. I’ve said that people are going to watch an extra hour a day of video by 2013; I’ve said that people will watch much more content on-demand and on portable devices than ever before. So what does that look like? When you do the math on my predictions, it says that 2013 looks like this compared to today:

What do you notice about this? The biggest shocker is that although OmniVideo sounds like the death of linear content, doing the math shows that at least in the 5-year time frame and under the assumptions I’ve envisioned, linear video viewing has only gone down by 27 minutes a day (from 3 hrs 12 mins to 2 hrs 45 mins). If you’re a linear content provider (broadcaster, cable net), take some heart. However, recognize that these are averages. The youngest and most sophisticated viewers will be way lower than this…

Four Trends OmniVideo Predicts

September 29, 2008

The extra hour of video that people will watch a day in 2013 creates a 25% growth opportunity for every player in the industry, creating a potential $37.5 billion growth opportunity in advertising revenue, content and subscription fees, and bandwidth charges.

That’s a pretty big assertion. It’s also entirely possible. To see how quickly we’re moving toward this future, I will be keeping my eyes on four specific predictions or metrics that OmniVideo implies:

· The percent of video viewed that is on-demand. The best evidence that OV has already started is the preponderance of on-demand viewing; this will account for an estimated 20% of all viewing in 2008 and rise to nearly half of all video — 45% — in five years. I’m not including recorded media like DVDs, as this involves the step of first acquiring content before it can be viewed. I do include content played back on a DVR, as well as true video on demand (VOD) delivered by cable, satellite, and telcoTV providers. The biggest force here is online video which is all on-demand by definition.

·  The percent of video delivered via IP. All content will be delivered via Internet Protocol eventually, but for the near future, the closed networks of cable and satellite providers will dominate, keeping this number to 35% in 2013. In the US, much IP-delivered content is also viewed on-demand, with the exception of IPTV-delivered linear content on platforms like AT&T’s U-verse (so make sure you recognize that these four predictions are not mutually exclusive).

·  How much video is consumed on a mobile or portable device. Between laptops, iPods, and mobile phones, no more than 8% of video will be viewed on a portable device in 2008. This number isn’t going to rise quickly, either, reaching just 15% in 2013. It’s not the minutes that matter here as much as the percent of people who snack on portable video, which should reach nearly half of all viewers by then. A big number of people, even if they don’t spend a majority of video minutes on it.

·  The percent of video consumed that is personal. The final indicator is the portion of video consumed that is personal, meaning the viewer or the viewer’s friends or family created it. This number starts small — just 2% this year — and rises to only 10% in five years. It can’t rise faster than the others because it depends on the others for a boost. Only when people have an OV environment in which it is easy to deliver and view video will they finally feel like it’s convenient to generate, maintain, and share video of their own making.

Source: Forrester Research, 17 June 2008 report, “How Video Will Take Over The World,” by James McQuivey, Ph.D.



OmniVideo Will Change What And How Much People Watch

September 29, 2008

The passing of the torch from TV to OmniVideo will produce specific changes in viewers’ lives — Most important, OmniVideo will drive the average total viewing time up 25% between now and 2013, from 4 hours to 5 hours per day, as people:

·  Use new platforms to “enhance” old viewing patterns. Producers ask: “Will my ratings dip even lower because people will have so much to watch and so many ways to watch it?” The answer in the five-year time frame is no. The first thing people want to do with a new platform is watch their favorite shows in a more convenient context. That’s exactly what has been happening with portable devices and especially online TV viewing. [See my Forrester Report, What It Really Means To Watch TV for more on this]. As a result, the viewing of favorite programs actually increases, adding an estimated 30 minutes of viewing a day by 2013.

·  Snack on new content to fill spare moments. As nontraditional – especially portable – video devices become normal parts of everyday life, viewers will gradually find other things to watch. They will want video they can snack on — short, 5-minute clips that fill the empty space between other activities, be it in the kitchen waiting for a buzzer to go off, in the conference room waiting for yet another meeting to start, or at the bus stop waiting for the overcrowded bus to arrive. This will add an estimated 20 minutes of video to the typical viewer’s day by 2013. 

·  Add personal background loops to their lives. Imagine a VH1-style Behind The Me documentary that intelligently assembles itself based on what it learns about you over time, keeping a current video diary of your life and times, accessible and running in a background loop on any display in your environment — TV, PC, portable media player, phone, or digital photo frame. This will add just 10 minutes of video viewing to the typical viewer’s day by 2013 because few people will do it; however, for those few who have a personal video loop running on a digital photo frame, it will add hours of video per day. 

Core Human Needs Drive OmniVideo

September 29, 2008

In the end, no technology can force OmniVdeo into being. Instead, the core need of the human animal will drive OV into our lives, because:

·  The brain is built for video. Simply put, we are alive today because millennia ago, the hominids whose visual skills helped them spot threats to survival as well as opportunities for food (and reproduction, don’t leave that out) survived. Those with less powerful visual machinery did not. It should come as no surprise, then, that in the modern age, we have an immense portion of our brain power dedicated to processing moving visual images. We will go to great lengths to stimulate those dedicated systems in the brain, much the way an addict does. 

·  We want yet another way to communicate. Alexander Graham Bell famously doubted that the phone would be useful in the home except for calling doctors to attend to emergencies. He was very wrong, failing to recognize that a technology that facilitates our human drive to communicate will spread rapidly. The phone did, as did email. Now it’s video’s turn because if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words (lessee: A second of video contains 30 individual pictures or frames; therefore, a minute of video contains 30 x 60 = 1,800 pictures. Multiplied by a thousands words per picture, a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.) 

·  Society craves a mirror. Happy Days said something about who we were as a people in the 1970s, just as Lipstick Jungle (sadly) speaks volumes about who we are today. Only now, we don’t have to content ourselves with a monolithic mirror reflected by a handful of networks. Instead, we can see ourselves — and all our blemishes — vividly portrayed in skater videos, kitten videos, reality TV shows, home movies, and thousands of other video sources of humor, awe, inspiration, contention, distraction, and debate. 

OmniVideo Brought To You By…Technology

September 29, 2008

OV is irresistible to viewers and therefore to the industry as well. There is nothing we can do to stop it or avoid its effects. Yet if it’s so powerful, why has it taken so long to arrive? That’s simple: The technology pillars on which OV rests have only just been firmly established, including:

·  IP video delivery. Internet Protocol (IP) makes it possible for video from anywhere to be consumed anywhere else on the network. Any device that can speak IP, can now speak video. As long as the network is fast enough. Luckily, it is — 52% of US homes had a high-speed connection at the start of 2008. Don’t even get me started on how fast broadband connections are in Korea and Japan! (That sound is me wishing I had 50 Mbps.)

·  Mega storage. Remember how cool you thought you were with your 100 MB Zip drive? At CES in January of this year, SanDisk demoed a 12 GB microSD card; it was roughly the size of a fingernail yet capable of storing — and transferring — more than two DVDs worth of information. And that’s just flash memory. Inside the computer, half-terabyte hard drives from Seagate and Western Digital regularly sell for less than $100. Wow, I remember when I hand upgraded my Atari 400 to a whopping 64K of memory. Times, changing, ’nuff said.

·  Cheap display screens. Consumers can pick up a 42-inch LG LCD TV at BestBuy.com for less than $1,000, about $500 less than what the same TV cost a year ago. But it’s not just TVs that are cheaper. Full-color, high-resolution screens have popped up in the past year on personal media players like the iPod nano and the Zune, while more phones are supporting full-motion video, from the lowest-end Samsung to the new high-end BlackBerry Bold. More video-capable devices are appearing each day, like the Whirlpool centralpark refrigerator or GPS units from Garmin and TomTom that display slideshows of family photos while on the road. (I can’t say that I’ve used my GPS for this feature, yet, but you get my point – lots of new devices will be video-capable soon!)

TV is Dead: Long Live OmniVideo

September 28, 2008

No matter how you measure it, TV is the world’s most important medium. It generates more advertising dollars, more cable and satellite subscriber fees, and more physical media purchases than any other medium, such as radio and music, newspapers, and magazines. It occupies more time — typically 28 hours per week for a typical American — than the other media as well. And its cultural impact is immense, transmitting normative cultural images around the world and painting a picture that captures the imagination of teenagers in Tuscaloosa as well as terrorists in Tikrit. However, it is time to bury the old notion of TV in favor of a new form that will reign as king of all media – OmniVideo. 

OmniVideo is bigger and better than TV in four ways:

1.   Displays on many devices. OmniVideo recognizes that people can watch video on many devices today and many more devices in the future. Importantly, not only can they view video on many devices, but you will be able to move video made for one device to another as you wish, not as content owners or network administrators dictate.

2.   Can be made by anyone. The point of OmniVideo is that it won’t matter who made the content: If you like it, it will be available to you anywhere, whether professionals produced it or your child’s kindergarten class did.

3.   Is never finished. In an OmniVideo world, gone will be the days in which a producer of video content pronounces any cut “final” and drops it into its broadcast slot. Producers will gradually loosen the reins on their content, allowing for powerful remixes and commentaries that will make even the oldest content perpetually fresh to its fans.

4.   Multiplies itself. People will spend more time with OmniVideo than they did with TV, they will spend more money on devices to watch OmniVideo, and advertisers will have more opportunities to reach people with their messages through OmniVideo than with TV.

The rise of OmniVideo means the rise of the power and influence that video has in daily life for viewers and for the industry.

Source: Forrester Research, 17 June 2008 report, “How Video Will Take Over The World,” by James McQuivey, Ph.D.

SNL does Sarah Palin, again

September 28, 2008

Just two hours ago I watched the second Tina Fey take on Sarah Palin. It was funny, not nearly as brilliant as the first one, which netted NBC a 7.4 rating in broadcast, but by the Wednesday after had scored 5.7 million viewers online through NBC.com, not including Hulu.com. Just in case you can’t get enough of the Palin/Clinton opener, here it is again in its glory. (Sorry I can’t embed it here, hulu and wordpress don’t get along.)

Curious to see how quickly NBC.com would post the new parody, I checked the site at 2:44AM ET (after it would have aired on the West Coast, but not before Hawaii and Alaska). Not surprisingly, it wasn’t there yet, but on good ol’ YouTube, it had already been posted twice. However, both posts I could find had already been taken down (the pink bar below shows the takedown notice, the video I tried to load is the third one down).

 Amazing how quickly those YouTubers can move. But also surprisingly amazing how quickly NBC (presumably with YouTube’s help) can identify and pull down the video.

Enough of this, I’m going to bed.


Just a few hours after Hawaii and Alaska have seen SNL and the clip has now been posted to Hulu and NBC.com. If last time the Palin sketch generated 5+ million viewers on NBC.com in a few days, expect this one to do half that, because it’s half as good. 

YouTube now has several dozen versions of the clip also playing. My speculation as to why they aren’t being halted by a takedown order: 1) most of them are of the “I filmed this by pointing a camera at the TV” variety, which makes the video harder to detect automatically using algorithms; and 2) so many people now know they can get a high quality version on official sites that maybe NBC isn’t as concerned about manually combing through the search results. The video I found with the most views only had 704 views as of this morning.