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Video Streaming: How it’s Transforming Entertainment

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

The ultimate cultural vision of video streaming was laid out in an iconic Qwest TV commercial from 1999. In it, a man wanders into a dusty, remote motel asking about room amenities. It’s not promising. The bored young lady behind the desk recites in an apathetic tone that the beds are all king-size, and the only breakfast offered is donuts and coffee.

But when the man asks about entertainment, that’s a little different. In the same monotone, the girl answers, “All rooms have every movie ever made in every language any time day or night.” It’s taken a while — probably longer than the technoptomists among us expected — but we’re getting closer to that vision.

For one thing, according to a survey recently conducted by Goldman Sachs and reported by HedgeFundLive, 27 percent of Americans now stream TV shows and movies, up from 16 percent in 2010.

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Cisco Simplicity Videos

A few weeks ago, at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, we introduced Videoscape – our vision and product portfolio for re-inventing television in a way that bridges broadcast, Pay TV, online, on-demand, social media, and communications.

What does that really mean? Check out this series of four shorts , created to add depth and context to the notion of television, re-invented. It’s all about what Videoscape can do for service providers, to dramatically improve how people consume television.

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Two Sides Are Better Than One

If there’s one thing that service providers are familiar with, it’s change. There’s been nothing but change -- wave after wave of disruptive change -- from the industry deregulation of the 1980s, the convergence of voice, data, and video of the past couple of decades, to the current era of digital media, which devours SP capacity without contributing equivalent revenue. But if you see change as opportunity, the projections of overwhelming future video growth is the potential “mother lode.”

The challenge is finding ways to monetize video traffic. This can be done by breaking out of traditional mindsets and adopting a two-sided business model -- serving consumers as well as customers and business partners.


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The History and Future of Television

You may recall that when we launched the Connected Life Exchange blog we pointed our visitors to a unique microsite called the “Discovery of Data” — an interactive anthology of telecommunication innovation events and the related historical facts.

Today, you can visit and explore yet another fun and informative site. The topic is “The History and Future of TV” – society and technology have evolved and converged to create new video experiences. Those that are more social, mobile and personal.

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The End of TV?

While traveling this week I had the opportunity to read David Meerman Scott’s great new book, Real-Time Marketing, dealing with the new ways that marketers are engaging with their customers.  It is a definite worthwhile read, full of examples of how the case studies highlighted there could be applied to our business…but what struck me was that TV isn’t really as much of a factor anymore as it used to be…

In industry journals, there has been an on-going debate about the extent of “cord-cutting,”  the act of a consumer like you or me (also considered a subscriber by the service providers themselves) deciding to cancel their cable or IPTV service now that they can view a show via the internet, say from a service like iTunes or Hulu in the U.S.  Conflicting statistics are being quoted left and right by different sides of the argument, which reminds me of Chris Brogan’s hilarious quote at a presentation I saw him give this Summer which, paraphrased, is “83.7 percent of all statistics are false.”   Now I’m not saying one side or another is false but are likely just looking at the situation from different perspectives.  Regardless of who’s right and what the extent really is, there is certainly some element of truth to it which means TV isn’t as much of a factor anymore as it used to be…

Personally, I wouldn’t want to get rid of my TV service. Without being able to get my Formula 1 fix or watching the Longhorn game (which in Austin is mandatory for citizenship), it would be like all the sacrifice but none of the grace of joining a monastery.   But I have to admit that in my daily life, I am spending more time than ever with my tablet, PC, and phone…and as much as I love my TV, it isn’t really as much of a factor as it used to be…
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