Tag Archives | Online Video

NBC Using Authentication Wall for Olympics

nbcolympicslogoAt the rate online video is growing, I imagine there will be a lot of people wanting to watch the Olympics online come 2010. If that’s the case, they’d better not abandon their TV subscriptions.

Using an advanced authentication method, NBC Universal will require online viewers to prove that they subscribe to a cable, satellite or telecom subscription TV package. Even then, the customer’s service provider must agree to this deal with NBC Universal beforehand.

The report in Sports Business Journal says the authentication will be limited to live footage, while some archived footage will be available for free.

Though much of NBC’s coverage will appear over the airwaves (free to anyone with an HD tuner and antenna), the paywall is probably meant to placate service providers due to the coverage NBC spreads to its subscription channels, such as MSNBC. Without being privy to the interactions between the network and service providers, I can’t say outright that authentication is a boneheaded move on NBC’s part. It could just be a necessity in the crazy world of content licensing.

But there should be some option for non-subscribers to watch the games online, and it should be robust rather than a second-class medium. Look at what Major League Baseball is doing with its MLB.tv offerings: Picture-in-picture, live highlights, DVR, player tracking. These are luxuries that go far beyond what the TV can do, and in my opinion, they’re worth paying for.

Give me a menu of which games are happening right now, and let me open a few of them in separate frames. Give me reminders of when the next Curling match is set to air and let me watch later if I miss it. I want a clickable ticker packed with highlights from around Vancouver. Please don’t give me the same thing I could get on cable, but harder to watch. As a cable divorcee, I’d throw $20 on this hypothetical service for the duration of the games.

But these are fantasies, to be sure. Maybe NBC Universal will learn after it endures another year of subpar viewing numbers.

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TV Today: It’s Still About Lean Forward vs. Sit Back

Imagine yourself watching TV right now. Where would you be? Would you be sitting back in your favorite chair in your living room and holding your remote control in one hand? Or are you sitting down at your local Starbucks, sipping coffee and watching video on your iPod?

Odds are most of your TV watching still occurs in comfort of your living room with your TV set. But increasingly, consumers are watching video anywhere they can: from work on the PC, on the road from a laptop, on iPods and iPhones, and other portable media players.

Even the term watching TV can be misconstrued, since there are so many options today. Does it mean watching a live broadcast TV channel as it is being aired? Does it mean viewing a show on-demand from your DVR? Does it mean buying the latest Daily Show episode from iTunes and watching it on your iPhone during your morning commute? Or maybe you’d rather go to NBC.com and watch the full episodes of Heroes for free (with limited commercials, of course).

I’ve recently been thinking about an old phrase from the early days of Internet video: Lean forward vs. sit back. Essentially, it’s the difference between PCs and TVs. PCs are more interactive while TVs are a passive experience. Lots of companies I spoke to back then were interested in the future of television and interactive TV services and wanted to blur the lines between PCs and TVs.

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