Vudu voodoo

Does Vudu really have the Holy Grail of digital TV entertainment? It looks like. Even if the idea of conquering the entertainment world by selling settop boxes seems a bit ridiculous.

The facts: afetr two years in stelath mode, the news are starting to trickle out. Gizmodo has a picture. The NY Times has got the facts.
In a nutshell, it goes like this: Vudu is the video stoe of the 21st century. No walk-ins. No “we mail you your DVD and you send it back”. Everythings happening in front of your tv, with instant gratification. Press the button, watch the show.

And instead of ruining itself with a monstrous centralized server installation, Vudu is going to be assisted by all its users. The cute little settop boxes are part of a peer to peer network. But the real magic of Vudu has been happening behind the scenes. All major studios are workig with Vudu. Except Sony Pictures, as they probably have their own, PlayStatoin-related plans to take care of.

The somewhat crazy part of Vudu is of course the settop boxes business. Because in the real world., that’s no business at all. As you will have to convince consumers that they have to shell out §300 for the privilege of watching movies in DVD quality on their tv sets. Which means: the brazen early adopter has to stack another box on top of his cable box, his DVD player, his tivo …

The good news is: they might just get rid of the hardware an end up as a software stack. And the even better news is: compared to the personal video recorder business, where the early overs like tivo and replay became almost something like an endangered species, Vudu has a big advantage: their contracts with the studios. But Sony and Microsoft (yup, the Xbox) have another thing going for them: theri some million boxes are already deployed. But hey: why shouldn’t there be a Vudu outlet in the Xbox or PlayStation mall next to your screen? It’s just a piece of software.

Hype.tv

It’s a funny idea: ditch cable and/or satellite, use AppleTV instead. Steve Rubel goes wild again: At home I have a Microsoft Xbox 360 (they’re one of our clients) and an Apple TV connected to my Sony HDTV. The content I download off the Internet for the two set top boxes has definitely eaten into my time with cable. The latter cannot be beat for live news and sports – yet.

But is this scenario really ready for prime time? And, if not yet: when? Serving 110 Million US tv households their daily dose of tv content via the Internet isn’t even a pipe dream – it’s actually a nightmare for the guys running the pipes. Just a small handul of people are currently heavy users of Bittorrent. But the p2p brethern is already clogging up 60 percent of the net (sez Gartner). Currently, you cannot scale net video to mass markets (not to mention HD deliveries). And don’t anybody YouTube me now. According to Compete, this February the top 20 videohosters served round about 260 million web videos. Which is about 2.5 videos per householf per month. Meaning an average viewing time of roughly five minutes. Per month. TV is currently eating of 4.5 hours per person and day. So puh-lease: yes, it’s exciting. And yes: it’s great to be ahead of the curve. But the debroadcastization of the tv world won’t happen any time soon.

Micro Persuasion: Between All-You-Can-Eat and A-La-Carte TV