As Internet TV slowly gains ground, the line between the Internet and TV is getting blurred. Although IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) has not yet reached the stage where it can navigate the world of TVs and set-top boxes, it will soon.
IPTV is truly the next-gen television, though at the moment many companies are just multi-million dollar experiments. There are more than 200 companies that label themselves as ‘Internet TV’; here is a quick update of my favorites among the Internet TV performers:
With plans of tying up with set-top box manufacturers and Mike Volpi at the helm, Joost is clearly taking big leaps. Making up for its limited content by signing content deals with major players, Joost is ready and raring to take on the market. The glitch at the moment is that it does not support viewing on the user’s browser and requires its software to be installed on the computer.
One of the oldest players in the P2P content delivery system, BitTorrent is a potential IPTV performer. The company has already partnered with D-Link and NetGear to integrate the BitTorrent SDK Kit in some of the other two companies’ NAS products. Further, a new deal with NetGear is rumored to be helping BitTorrent move beyond the P2P arena. Strong content deals will work to its advantage as IPTV gains popularity. The company has always had humongous management problems, though.
Metacafe is not just another site where users can share content. Its unique Producer Rewards Program encourages original, quality content and pays for it. The site does have great content and a good revenue model, but it is struggling to get traffic.
Revver aims to challenge YouTube’s position by sharing revenue earned from advertisements with video creators. But it is its deal with Verizon, which allows Verizon FiOS TV and consumer broadband customers to access content, that differentiates them.
The online video publishing company gives content makers full control to brand their content. The commercial version scheduled for fall release, with its support for long-form video, should help Brightcove take on competitor Move Networks. Strong content deals with media companies (including print media) and the acquisition of Metastories, which focuses on rich media technology, makes it a potential IPTV contestant.
Giving its users the option of watching streaming videos online and downloading software, Veoh represents a point-of-view in the IPTV race. Besides combining the best of Joost and YouTube, Veoh also has strong content deals to support it.
Touted as the YouTube clone, Motionbox is aimed at amateur video creators. Its strong content deals and enhanced features set it apart from YouTube, but it has yet to reach the popularity levels enjoyed by the Google subsidiary. Perhaps acquisition by one of its media partners who use the company’s technology (e.g. NBC) will give it that elusive reach.
The one that remains unnamed above is ZillionTV. It’s a stealth mode IPTV company that I believe has cracked many of the issues regarding the box, the operators, the business model, etc. – all issues that the industry needs to sort through. Cable industry veteran Mitch Berman is the CEO, and I can say no more!