Now that the Federal Communications Commission has granted limited use of selectable output control to the entertainment industry, the "window" structure of video releases may be in for radical change. Video providers are more likely to offer hot movie titles via video on demand before disc release. But two clouds lurk on the horizon. The VOD will be very expensive to consumers. And it may antagonize theater owners.
According to research just released by Strategy Analytics, manufacturers will increase worldwide shipments of set-top DVD players by 300% this year, while retail revenues across the three major regions (US, Europe, Japan) will rise by 220%, to $7 billion. SA says that this year's market is being driven by the launch of DVD-based games consoles, and that DVD recorders will fuel the momentum from 2001 on.
AT&T is considering a cutback in its rollout of next-generation U-Verse TV, internet, and phone service to homes in its service area. The Wall Street Journal reports that AT&T is blaming the specter of increased regulation from the Federal Communications Commission, which recently voted 3-2 to pursue net neutrality rules.
YouTube is talking to Sony Pictures about the possibility of licensing full-length movies for viewing through the popular website. While this would not be the first time YouTube has licensed content, it would be the first time major motion pictures have been approved for free YouTubing.
Netflix, Blockbuster, and other online program providers are cutting deals left and right to get their services into various devices. But many of these scenarios hinge on an important assumption--that consumers have fixed-price internet service to bring all those audiovisual bits into the home. This assumption may not be viable indefinitely, as internet service providers are now threatening to shift from all-you-can-eat plans to metered, usage-based pricing.
Zune may be about to start making download decisions for you. The name of the Microsoft patent application in question is "Automatic delivery of personalized content to a portable media player with feedback." That says it all, doesn't it?
The DTV transition took over a whole metro area for the first time this week. Folks in Wilmington, North Carolina are getting digital signals exclusively in a trial run for the overall U.S. DTV transition which is scheduled for February 17, 2009. That's when analog broadcasting will stop entirely, with analog signals surviving only in cable, satellite, and other non-antenna systems. Wilmington is just experiencing the future a few months early.