With change a constant in the technology, media and entertainment (TME) sector, it should come as no surprise that this past week alone saw important developments in multiple, related fronts including consumer electronics, live sports programming, OTT and live streaming of pro sports contests.
Let’s look at the relevant news from the week in review:
4K TV- Retail giant Best Buy (News - Alert) started giving away sound bars with a MSRP of roughly $200 with the purchase of 4K ultra HD (UHD) TVs in the Greater Boston area. Prices continue to fall – and be discounted – for the sets which offer four times the resolution of 1080p HD sets.
Building the installed base of UHD sets in the U.S. is clearly a big part of the adoption equation. Programming is paramount, with the caveat of pricing/packaging, to drive the 4K movement. Many first-run movies are already shown in theaters in 4K resolution.
TV service providers, traditional and OTT, have made limited commitments to delivering 4K programming – essentially sticking their toes in the water – using title rental and pay extra tier pricing models.
However, the 4K industry needs a shock-and-awe content commitment breakthrough. One from the pro sports industry would do the trick, as this sector was the prime mover behind the shift from standard definition to high definition TV.
Until then, it’s still a wait-and-see for UHD 4K TV.
At the Content Cost Cliff? It appears fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t the only ones suffering from not being able to watch most regular season games last season (a playoff year for the team), unless they were Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable pay-TV subscribers.
A report this week said the content conundrum, in which Time Warner was almost totally unable to license the games it got in its multi-year deal with SportsNet LA to top cablecos, satellite service providers and telco TV providers, has cost the company roughly $1 billion.
What’s even more concerning is that the impasse still hasn’t ended as the 2015 regular season of Major League Baseball looms large. Live sports content is king, unless other TV providers feel like the price is too high, which still doesn’t result in this kind of standoff. Here’s to a quick resolution that somehow benefits all and avoids a déjà vu for Dodgers fans.
The city’s mayor made a plea to the cable industry and legislators have gotten involved. And that activity was many months ago. This situation merits continuing attention because of its nature but perhaps more because of its duration. All this is occurring in the nation’s number one or two TV market.
Sony’s OTT Service. Sony’s Vue OTT service has a tougher road to hoe than originally anticipated. Part of the problem is that it can only be accessed through the company’s huge base of PlayStation gaming consoles, at least for now. The pricing (starting at $49.99) is also an issue given the company’s target market (which may end up being largely young and young-ish males.
On the up side, the streaming TV service, though lacking ESPN (News - Alert), is well loaded with live sports—thanks in part with a new content deal with Turner, which will provide TBS, TNT and TruTV. Take a look at the sports covered by those channels and you’ll see what I mean.
Remember, Sony has had a steeper climb to get into OTT as it’s not a TV service provider, and while it does have a movie unit, the company is better known for gaming consoles and consumer electronics gear. That means it had to overcome not already being a TV content aggregator like DISH with Sling TV or content channel giant like an HBO. Apple had a similar climb. So did Intel (News - Alert), which failed to launch.
For a more comprehensive look at Vue, I recommend the one released this week by The Diffusion Group (TDG.com).
NFL Live Online Latest. In NFL news, the league added more detail to the plan the commissioner announced in January to live steam a NFL game this season while only allowing its broadcast in the participants’ home markets. The league this week said the game will be the Buffalo Bills vs. Jacksonville Jaguars in London. It has been characterized as an “experiment” by the league. The game will air in the U.S. at around 9 a.m. EDT.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t represent a first for the NFL and live game streaming, exclusive or otherwise as the league already streams its games to points outside North American to tie in far-flung fans with its NFL Game Pass service. And with partner DIRECTV, live out-of-market games from its NFL Sunday Ticket package have been streamed online on and off for a few years without select consumers having to buy DTV’s satellite TV service.
This not-withstanding, stay tuned as AT&T (News - Alert) awaits approval to buy the satellite TV service provider.
In the meantime, enjoy March Madness!