Tag Archives: NAB 2014

Will Cord-Cutting put an End to Cable TV?

The average monthly bill for basic cable in the United States usually ranges between $50 and $80 depending on factors such as location, government mandates, and channel packages. The rise of cable in the last few decades has revolutionized the way we watch television and turned cable into somewhat of a necessity for the middle class family household. Unfortunately, many cable subscribers have become complacent with their cable providers and fallen victim to increasing prices, multiple unnecessary fees, and paying for channels they never watch. A few former cable customers have realized this injustice and have removed themselves from the cruel grips of their cable provider.

These people are known as “Cord Cutters”. These people are the one’s among us who live without paying a cable bill. And they crazy part is, they still consume content produced for television. The only thing more ubiquitous in this country than television is the internet, and though it seems like the a perfect complement to television it is actually its biggest threat. Cord Cutters use internet services and other devices to watch free broadcast channels, online subscription services, and on demand services to consumer their media content.

netflixThe predominant service in this new cordless universe is the subscription service Netflix. For $8 per month you can gain access to over 50,000 movie and TV series titles and watch them for an unlimited amount of time. All that is needed is an internet connection and a device that connects to it.

Along with Netflix there are other subscription services that stream content for a relatively low price compared to cable. Hulu Plus is also just $8 per month and has a library of movies and shows while adding new episodes of currently airing shows. Amazon Prime also offers over 17,000 titles. With these services there have been a lot of devices like the Roku and the Chrome Cast that allow you to stream these services very easily over wifi.

While subscription services are the most popular substitutes to cable, consumers have also started invested in high powered HD digital antenna’s for their television. These antenna’s make it possible to access high definition broadcast channels such as CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, CW, and PBS for free. For some, these channels are the only one’s necessary yet many still pay for a cable bill.

networksThe significance of these advancements is that consumers no longer need to rely on cable providers to consume the high quality entertainment that cable television has brought in the past. The services available make it possible to consume high quality content with a more flexible and efficient user experience. If cable subscribers were more aware of these availabilities, companies like Comcast and Time Warner wouldn’t hold so much power over our content.

The recent merger between the two companies, Comcast and Time Warner, has been a major issue with cable subscribers as the two companies were the two largest cable providers in the companies and for many customers these two services were the only services available in their area. The merging of the two create a market dominance that is similar to the market dominance of AT&T — T-Mobile Deal that was shot down for antitrust reasons. The New York Magazine posted this article online on why the merger should be blocked by the U.S. government. Of course, the merger wasn’t blocked, but since the announcement the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division has launched an investigation.

This coming week I will be at the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas where I will be attending a session on audience measurement and how cording-cutting is affecting the industry. I’ve posted three questions at the end of this article that I plan to ask and have answered in the session dealing with the impact cord cutting has had on cable television. I will post my findings when I get back!

Cord Cutting has garnered somewhat of a community of supporters and advocates. The most popular are online like reddit.com/r/cordcutters and cordcutterforum.com and you can learn much more about cord cutting in these communities. If you’re interested in learning how to “cut the cord”, USA today has provided a 4-part web series to get you on your way to becoming a cord cutter.

Questions

1. Have cable providers seen a noticeable impact on revenue due to “cord cutting”?

2. Is the Comcast and Time Warner merger likely to go through? If so what does that mean for consumers?

3. Is measuring cord cutters useful to professionals in the audience measurement industry? Why?

Mitch Ingstad

Dish’s Deal with Disney Marks a New Era for Internet TV

Internet TV will never be the same after Dish and Disney agreed to a deal that allows Dish subscribers to stream Disney owned stations (ESPN, ABC, ABC Family, Disney Channel, and more) online through their internet-connected devices such as computers, tablets and cell-phones. Dish could not have asked for a better outcome; not only is Dish the first cable provider to achieve a deal of this magnitude, but Disney also agreed to drop all charges towards Dish for their AutoHop service.

Here is a video explaining the deal in greater detail:

Dish may have just paved the way for the future of Internet TV, but at what cost? For starters, the deal is considered a package-deal; meaning in order to get ESPN or ABC a subscriber has to get the other networks Disney owns as well, such as ABC Family. The more networks a package has, the more expensive it will cost to subscribe.  The service currently costs a subscriber anywhere from $20-$30.

dish disneyThat is a hefty price, especially considering the fact that most people already pay for internet and cable every month, and that is not counting all the people who also subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu. Internet TV is also primarily targeted to the younger crowd, such as college and high school students. And I can tell you right now that no college or high school kid would be willing to fork over that kind of cash.

Another major negative is that subscribers of this service will only be allowed to have one device streaming content at a time. In other words, one subscription accounts for one person only. They are trying to make it difficult for multiple people to view content off one subscription.

My biggest fear about this deal is whether or not companies like Disney will take down their services on other internet TV providers, and force us all to pay a monthly fee to access their networks. In other words will companies like Disney take their content off Netflix, or not allow for game console owners to stream content off the ESPN app for free.

Disney-ESPN-media-netsEssentially Dish has just opened up the gates to potentially a living nightmare. It’s only just a matter of time now until other cable providers follow suit, and soon potentially every network we stream online for free will cost us a fee.

For Dish however this deal is a huge success and potentially a success for all other cable providers and networks, as their subscription fees will bring them a lot of money.

How do you feel about the direction internet TV is heading? Do you think streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu will take a hit from this in the future? Why? What are some positives or negatives you can see coming from this? Please post your answers in the comments section below.

With the NAB Show right around the corner, I have looked into sessions at this year’s show that may help answer some of my questions about the future of internet TV. When I am at NAB I will do my best to post any new details that I learn about internet TV, or that answer any of my questions.

– Tyler Bradley

Cloud Storage: Easy to Use, Easy to Share, Easy to Access from Anywhere

cloud2Easy to use, easy to share, easy to access from anywhere with an internet connection, cloud storage is the future of saving files, and it’s here.

The ability to access everything from word documents to video files, to software is available and simple to do. With the help of multiple free sources such as Dropbox and Google Docs, anyone can store their content online. So the question is, why aren’t more people using it?

Braveheart
Freeeeeedom!

First things first, what is “the cloud.” In its most basic form, it’s a bunch of connected computers and servers interacting with each other to store information. So rather than downloading your Word file to your computer, you upload to servers. From there, anytime you want to access the file, you don’t have to use that specific computer. (for a more in-depth look, check out this great article) Rather, you can get onto a computer in your university, local library, or even a smartphone to get it back. No longer are you limited to a USB or lugging around a computer to access simple files since now they can be accessed from anywhere.

Cloud storage isn’t just a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity that everyone needs to learn. Anyone, from a student typing up tomorrow’s assignment to business owners, need to learn how this works. In the digital age, deleted papers or missing presentations are no longer an excuse. We live in an n-1 world (n standing for the number of copies you have.) If your file resides on only a hard drive or USB, this complex formula states the amount of files you actually have is zero. If a computer crashes, a USB is lost, or a file vanishes as files do, then all the hard work is wasted. Back to square one, except now you’re far more upset and significantly less time to work.

stockphoto
You’ll look like this stock photo woman.
Don’t look like this stock photo woman.
grandma
What is this computinmanator machine?

Enter cloud storage. When uploaded, you file exists on the internet. It is stored on not only your computer, but also on a far off server, making it accessible from anywhere, and from any device with internet access. N minus one? More like N minus none! I feel bad for typing that, but the point is still there. Your life’s work isn’t in the hands of a single fatal accident. Instead, the network storing your content will have to go down and that’s far less likely than grandma accidentally deleting your latest novel.

There are lists of popular cloud storing sites that are available for free. But, there are still universities that keep their students in the dark about this resource. Then, when they go to a university or enter the workforce, they are a step behind. Being unaware of internet storage puts them at risk of losing work that now carries significantly more weight. Again, when in a n-1 mindset, it should be considered non-existent. Storing on the cloud offers safety and a peace of mind that can’t be guaranteed with an easy to lose portable drive or a desktop shared by multiple users.

The cloud is safe, free, and easy to use. Adoption is needed in today’s world, more so now than ever before. So don’t get caught with your pants down…use the stupid cloud already!

Evan Stevenson

I’ve Converted to 4K (But Should Your TV Convert, Too?)

I didn’t believe the 4K hype.

4K, or Ultra High Definition, will supposedly create a new way of shooting and viewing video images through its use of 8,294,400 pixels, as compared to high definition’s 2,073,600. This means a clearer picture with more vivid colors.

4K format size
A comparison of various video size formats.

Now I believe.

My conversion came as I stood between a 4K television and a 90-inch HDTV. The biggest television I’d ever seen looked like standard definition in comparison.

Before rushing out and buying a 4K screen, we must consider the different arguments for and against 4K and the implications 4K has on technologies such as gaming and smartphones. But first, let’s look at the basics of 4K, and at whether consumers truly want this technology…

What is 4K?

handycamThere are three components that determine the resolution we see—the content, the player, and the screen. The image will only be as clear as the lowest-definition signal. In order to get 4K, you must have content filmed (or remastered) at 4K resolution. Some films have been rescaled into 4K, and others are now being shot in 4K. Sony has created a 4K consumer camera for users to create their own UltraHD videos. In order to view 4K, you also need a 4K player in order to output UHD video to 4K screens. This can be via a device such as Sony’s 4K media player, which plays content downloaded from the Internet, or via a future device that would play 4K broadcast signals, if and when those are developed. Finally, in order to get 4K, you need a UHD screen in order to see 4K clarity.

Obviously, 4K still is far from making their products completely consumer friendly and easy to adapt.

Do People Actually Care?

Some say 4K will revolutionize media. Others think it’s a ploy to sell more products and make people believe their HDTVs are obsolete.

What my eyes saw in that television showroom didn’t lie—4K is beautiful and more realistic than any previous resolution I’ve seen.

Yet, others say the human eye cannot perceive the high 4K resolution when viewing from six to ten feet away.

Additionally, the average consumer may not even understand 4K. The Leichtman Research Group conducted a March 2014 study, finding only 30% of its subjects had ever even heard of 4K, and only one-third of that 30% had actually seen a 4K set.

However, it still appears that consumers may want 4K TVs.

“We’ve been selling quite a few. (The customers) come in and see the great picture and it’s a little hard for them to not buy it with how great it is,” said Terry Root, owner of Maximum Sight and Sound in Waterloo, Iowa. “The only thing that’ll probably keep them from buying it is the cost.”

The price of a 55-inch 4K screen at Maximum Sight and Sound is $3,000. Smaller, 40-inch models are $1,500, though Root has seen prices on all the 4K TVs dropping.

Professionals are learning to incorporate 4K into their workflows.

Prairie Lakes Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa uses a Canon 1DC 4K DSLR for their video production. They don’t distribute content in 4K, but make use of the high resolution, letting them digitally crop and zoom shots while still maintaining 100% quality. This creates the perception of multiple camera angles when it is solely the 4K camera filming.

“4K has been great for us, but it’s just a matter of upgrading the rest of our gear to work with it… I had to upgrade a lot of my computing hardware just because it’s such a huge data rate,” said Matt Miller, PLC Creative Video and Media Coordinator. “I use 128GB cards that were the fastest you could buy, and it gives me a half hour recording time.”

TVMiller feels that many people do not know what 4K means, and that consumers are generally slower to adopt what is used in the film industry.

I believe 4K technology will inevitably become the standard, such as High Definition has—but not for at least several years. Right now, 4K may be great for the user who can understand its limitations and handle its possibilities. Lower prices are more attractive, but there needs to be content, and a way to deliver that content easily before people will ride this bandwagon. But first, consumers need to have ways to view and learn more about 4K before they buy, whether this is done through advertising or increased awareness through other channels.

So what about you? Do you want 4K technologies? And will you be buying them soon?

Olivia Hottle