Catching up with Time Warner Cable, Blockbuster, TiVo, iTunes UK, and Netflix

time warner cable logoAnother day, another set-top box.

This one comes courtesy of Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt, who told those at the Stanford C. Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference in New York that the company planned to market equipment to its subscribers to make it easier for them to watch Internet video on their televisions.

Naturally, Britt offered few details, other than to say:

“Right now it’s pretty hard to get Internet stuff on your TV,” Britt said [via Reuters]. “We’re actually going to have equipment we make available to subscribers. It’s actually going to be a new wireless cable modem that will allow you to network everything in your house.”

Naturally, Britt didn’t elaborate or say when the set-top box would be available to subscribers.

“Within a relatively short time . . . it’s going to be very easy to get Internet TV on your big screen TV.”

OK. So Time Warner is throwing its hat into the ring with the likes of Apple and the AppleTV, TiVo, Netflix/Roku, Vudu, Microsoft, Sony, the cable companies, and seemingly hundreds more. As long as we’re watching the vendor sports between these players, we might as well throw Time Warner’s set-top box scheme into the mix.

Catching Up

After the break, a few stories of interest from the just-concluding week.

blockbusterBlockbuster kiosks

Blockbuster is hoping that all the Archos digital media player owners in your area will drive to their local stores to download movies from in-store kiosks. In time, the kiosks will be an “open system” compatible with a range of devices.

Say what?

Amazon, Microsoft’s Xbox Live, and Netflix already deliver movies directly to computers; TiVo, Vudu, AppleTV, and cable and satellite services offer video-on-demand to TVs, so what makes Blockbuster think that people will want to drive to their local Blockbusters — when gas is more than $4 a gallon — to download movies from an airport-like kiosk?

But, hey, Blockbuster Chairman and CEO James Keys insists that the company is “well ahead of broad consumer demand for such services.” [via Crave]

Whatever.

Two thumbs up!

Here’s an idea that caught my eye and I kind of like, although its implementation is far from perfect at the moment.

TiVo is partnering with the Chicago Tribune to allow subscribers to automatically record the recommendations of TV critic Maureen Ryan. For the moment, the service is mostly proof-of-concept and available to about 100,000 subscribers in the Chicago area.

What I like about the idea is more from the newspaper side than TiVo. It’s a great extension of newspaper content that’s not just using the Internet. Imagine the major metro paper in your area supplying content from its TV, movie, and pop culture critics right where you consume it.

Best of all, you don’t get ink on your fingers.

Hollywood, iTunes in the U.K.

Let’s face it. We want movie downloads to cost much less than DVDs. After all, we don’t get the packing and extra content, so why should we pay nearly the same for the bytes that we do for the bits?

Apple is set to announce that films from four major Hollywood studios will be available for download in the U.K. at prices that are on par with DVDs — £6 to £25. [via TimesOnline] Many of our friends overseas seem to think this is a bit pricey.

But what do you expect from Disney, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, and Warner Bros., the studios supplying content to iTunes for digital download in the U.K.? Doesn’t matter which country they operate in; they still want the big bucks.

netflix rokuWhat is nice, though, is that this will be the first time that Hollywood films have been available to our British friends — and our buddies in Canada — in such a manner.

Pointing to the future

Most of the stories this week continue to point to a time when digital distribution becomes dominant, whether the content comes from a kiosk like the Blockbuster idea, a set-top box like Warners or Netflix/Roku, Amazon’s streaming service, or no set-top box at all.

Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, thinks that time will come within five years, when the company’s signature DVD-by-mail business model will peak, officially ushering in the era of digital distribution. [via Reuters]

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last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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