Starz and Microsoft team up for downloadable content to portable players

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by ZeoTiVo, Jan 3, 2006.

  1. Jan 3, 2006 #1 of 10
    ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

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    looks like the wanted to be just ahead of CES anouncements.
    from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/01/03/entertainment/main1175179.shtml

    (AP) Starz Entertainment Group is launching a movie download service that allows consumers to view full-length studio films, concerts and TV shows on portable devices powered by Microsoft Corp. software.

    The service will provide the content critical for the success of a number of devices that will be introduced at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, which kicks off in Las Vegas this week. Video delivered over the Internet will be a key theme at this year's show.

    The service, dubbed "Vongo," is available for a monthly subscription of $9.99 and will eventually include more than 1,000 movies, short films and other programs. The films will be available at the same time they are offered on the Starz premium movie cable channel, about five to six months after they are released on DVD.

    Users will be able to download as many films as they want each month to up to three devices, including Windows-based computers and portable devices running Microsoft's Portable Media Center software.

    A smaller number of films will be available several months sooner for a pay-per-view fee of $3.99. Subscribers will also be able to watch a live, streaming video feed of the Starz TV channel.

    "It's kind of iTunes for movies," said technology analyst Rob Enderle, referring to the music download service offered by Apple Computer Inc.

    Enderle and other analysts also said the service will reinvigorate the market for portable devices, such as the ones already offered by Creative Technology Ltd. and iRiver. The devices have not taken off, in large part because of a lack of compelling content, most notably big studio movies.

    Starz said its Vongo service will also be a key feature of the Sony Connect video service set to launch later this year.

    A number of newer, smaller portable devices will be introduced this week and over the next several months to compete with Apple's video iPod, which can play select ABC and NBC TV shows.

    "The portability is key," said Laura Behrens, an analyst at Gartner Industry Advisory Services.

    Portability also will make it easier for films downloaded to a computer to be viewed on a TV, where most people prefer to watch movies.

    Films downloaded from existing online movie services, including Movielink, a joint venture of five Hollywood studios, and CinemaNow, which counts studio Lions Gate as an investor, can be viewed on a TV. But the process involves stringing a cable from the computer to the TV set. Wireless home networks are not yet robust enough to handle the large video files.

    Viewers will still have to attach a cable from a smaller portable device to a TV, but it will be easier to carry a movie from a computer in an office, say, to a TV in another part of the house.

    "It's not elegant, it's not perfect, but it's a step," Behrens said.

    The Starz service will not include films from every studio. It has exclusive rights to films from The Walt Disney Co. and Sony Pictures and has licensed some films from other studios.

    Home Box Office and other premium cable services have rights to distribute films from other studios, but have not launched similar online services.

    Starz is a subsidiary of Liberty Media Corp. and is based in Englewood, Colo
     
  2. Jan 3, 2006 #2 of 10
    davezatz

    davezatz Funkadelic

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    I hit this earlier on my site... the interesting tidbits for me: $9.95 all-you-can-eat, possible PSP support in the near future

    I tried Starz original download service on RealOne a little over a year ago - they didn't have much current content. This new service looks liek they're going to try and offer fairly recent movies. Not sure why they feel the need to "rotate" content though - why not just keep the library growing? Wonder if it's a licensing thing.

    Either way $9.95 for unlimited movies downloads versus $1.99 per TV show download on iTunes is a big jump. We'll see how this plays out. Apple, of course, has the advantage since they're going to sell a ton of video iPods and Starz doesn't work there, at least not yet.
     
  3. Jan 3, 2006 #3 of 10
    cwoody222

    cwoody222 Well-Known Member

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    Yawn. Lemme watch on my TV easily... not via Portable thing hooked up to my TV (and not a Media Center PC sitting in my living room) in addition to portability or else I don't care.

    How many people actually own a Windows portable media player (or a Media PC for that matter). Not enough (yet).
     
  4. Jan 3, 2006 #4 of 10
    davezatz

    davezatz Funkadelic

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    Yeah... this is mostly intersting for road warriors.

    What most of us want in our homes is a huge, downloadable video library to choose from. It's coming... just a matter of when and how. (And how much.)

    Wonder if TiVo would have quicker success (parternships) if they integrated MS DRM - those tiny flash based players with no real OS can do it, why not TiVo? Content providers want assurances the movies won't get pirated, and they seem OK with Starz, Movielink, CinemaNow, ets using MS's methods.
     
  5. Jan 3, 2006 #5 of 10
    Aflat

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    You can watch it on your TV. It sounds like the content will be the same as what is on their On-Demand channel. So instead of downloading it, you select it on your TV, jsut like you can today. Of course it goes straight through STARZ instead of through your cable service, so the cable companies aren't getting a cut of the On-Demand channel.

    Look out cable, IPTV is coming!
     
  6. Jan 3, 2006 #6 of 10
    BillyT2002

    BillyT2002 Crush!Kill!Destroy!

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    Look out satellite too. Thank God! ;)
     
  7. Jan 3, 2006 #7 of 10
    Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

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    Exactly. That is why this similar exciting announcement in Dec 2004 meant little.

    What's different? First off, it's a download, not streaming so no Quality of service issues.

    Yawns are dependent on platform, and everyone has their biases of course. Is there a yawn if the box it downloads to is a Mac Mini with Intel Inside so that it can play HD? Or to a Satellite Carrier DVR so that it can offer VOD like what DirecTv is already doing? What if the Box is a CC Tivo that can play the Mpeg4 content that StarZ downloads?

    StarZ will be just one of many download services and have every reason to be promiscuous- StarZ is going to aggressively seek customers from all these platforms. So this is not just a microsoft thing.

    To all those who proclaimed Tivo was backwards because it did not stream- take a look. Downloaded, not streamed premium content.

    Of course we have heard about such services before. The studios already have some. The thing is this service is arms length from the studios. And it is not a Netflix deal- they already have been doing online content major motion pictures.
    It will be interesting to see if the rumored intel mac intel mini locks out other DRMs just as iPod did with FairPlay. Will Apple attempt to lock out StarZ and their ilk just as they successfully locked out RealNetworks? I think they'll try, but I think it's too late.
     
  8. Jan 3, 2006 #8 of 10
    ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

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    yah, I doubt it will replace my Netflix subscription but a service is finally getting the Netflix idea of portability along with convenient queueing of films to watch. It is indeed a significant if inelegant first step and introduces MS security as a contender to fairplay.

    I know Apple is working on more video content and has a cool focus on getting it sooner rather than after the DVD but at the moment Starz is anouncing better content at a better price. Competition should make for a better iTunes, Netflix and TiVo downloads as content providers see pipelines being opened to consumers
     
  9. Jan 3, 2006 #9 of 10
    Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

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    I wonder if TivoToGoBack will be able to suck the same file over to a CC Tivo and play it. If this were done in an automated fashion, using MCE as a go between would not be onerous. Not as good as direct download, but maybe achievable in this deal (since it is dependent on Microsoft).
     
  10. ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

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    Jan 2, 2004

    yah too bad the 9.99 a month stuff is 6 months behind DVD release date.
     

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