Opening IPTV to Independents

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As a consumer device, Apple TV is a typical first generation technology endeavor. Basically Apple took the iPod formula and applied it to IPTV — create a basic, no frills piece of hardware in an elegant wrapper, but give it a best in class UI.

This approach worked for the iPod because an easy to use MP3 player had an easily understandable value proposition to consumers. People wanted these devices, but the market was doing a terrible job meeting those needs. The iPod swooped in and took control of the market.

There’s not a lot of pent up demand for an IPTV device because

  1. No one knows what IPTV is.
  2. Very few people want another set top box (STB) clutter their living rooms.
  3. Video on demand (VOD) and pay per view (PPV) are doing a solid job of filling Apple TV’s niche.
  4. There’s always NetFlix.

Mike Curtis did a nice review on the latest Apple TV update, and linked to some interesting information on Apple TV as a consumer device. No need to recap that. Instead, let’s look at what Apple TV’s success or failure means to independent content creators.

IPTV can be the great equalizer for independents. It has the potential to distribution affordable for even the smallest players. Unfortunately the iTunes store is not independent-friendly. Apple’s been unwilling to adopt the Amazon and Yahoo! models of renting space to retailers. If you’re not big media, you’re not welcome in iTunes — unless you’re willing to give your content away. That means adopting an ad-based model, and that means more work for the independent producer.

Enter the Open Television Network

The recently launched Open Television Network takes care of all the e-commerce infrastructure, so independents can sell content for download. Once an Open Television account has been created, to the user, it’s just like buying through iTunes. Very elegant.

The content owner supplies his or her own storage, gets a listing in the Open Television index, and is free to market independently. To date it’s the most open, elegant, and affordable means of delivering IPTV content available to content owners. Open Television takes a very reasonable 15% cut of sales. Try getting a deal like that with a traditional distributor.

Whether Open Television becomes the dominant platform or not, it has opened up IPTV to the independent.


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Janet Lafleur

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