Musings of an Internet Marketing Consultant
Musings of an Internet Marketing Consultant

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Internet takes another victim...

Earlier this week I wrote about my experience installing a SlingBox so that I could watch the CBC "Live" coverage of various events in real time. And I have had a few days now to experience SlingBox working at a distance of 2500 miles from my cable box.

This morning my hotel-distributed USA Today ran a feature story on how viewership of the Olympics is down - 36% from the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, for instance. But they make several points:
  • More Americans are checking the Internet for results in real time; by the time NBC runs their daily prime time coverage, the information has largely become stale. One quote: "Even when they try to tell gut wrenching stories, it just doesn't motivate me to watch".
  • Website visits to NBC's Olympics site are up significantly. "For anyone who can't see the Winter Olympics live, the Internet is the obvious outlet of choice."
  • A couple living near the Canadian border in Troy, MI is quoted: "My husband and I have discussed the fact that watching NBC's coverage is frustrating because they edit it so much we only get to see what they want us to see," Taylor says. "We like all of the athletes, and Canadian TV provides that."

    For the 2010 Winter Olympics at Whistler-Vancouver watch for the following from the US coverage:
  • Real time coverage (from a site only three hours behind the key US Eastern market), probably with expanded coverage on the US rights holder's affiliated cable channels such as MSNBC and CNBC.
  • Much more Olympics via Video on Demand (as Rogers Cable is currently providing for this year's Olympics)
  • New business models for advertisers who want to reach their target markets more effectively
  • And from SlingBox: opportunities to watch from not just your home cable box but from a range of sources, such as the Canadian rights holder for 2010, contracted by SlingBox Media to provide a remote "reality Olympics" video source.

  • One more Internet-driven media transformation leading to one more business model disrupted by the Internet.

    Now, while in my hotel room in southern California, back to watching Mellisa Hollingsworth-Richards being interviewed about her Bronze medal performance in Skeleton yesterday.

    Sunday, February 12, 2006

    SlingBox Rocks ... and addresses my Olympic-size problem...

    (written on Day 2 of the 2006 Winter Olympics)

    During the summer of 1972 I moved to Germany (working with a private firm) about three weeks before the Munich Olympics started. As my wife had remained in Canada to help her parents with a move, I was getting my evening meals in the local town "gästehaus". When the Olympics started, the local German network provided 16-hour a day coverage from 9 a.m. to midnight. As a result I would spend my entire evenings in the gästehaus watching the Olympics(and upgrading my high school German in the process). I became an Olympic TV junkie and have been entranced by the round-the-clock Canadian coverage that has been provided with every Olympics since Montreal hosted the 1976 Summer Games.

    During a recent trip to the U.S. I stayed with some friends who gave me a demonstration of not only TiVo but also the newly released SlingBox. So when I realized at the end of that trip that I would be spending the first ten days of this year's Winter Olympics in the Los Angeles area without access to the CBC, I resolved to have a SlingBox installed at my (Canadian) home prior to my trip this coming week. (I certainly did not want to be restricted to NBC's "summary" prime time broadcasts that only cover U.S. athletes.) An interim quick trip to U.S. gave me the opportunity to purchase a SlingBox last week (and, yes, I declared it at customs).

    This is one amazing box. The most difficult part of the installation was figuring out the wiring maze I had put together when I installed my home theatre system. The rest of the installation went quite smoothly. Simply position the SlingBox between your cable box and home stereo amplifier; attach an Ethernet cable to the home network (via a Linksys Cable/DSL Router or equivalent) and place the IR generator and its cable such that it can trigger the "Remote Control" functions of your cable box. Oh yes, do connect the power adapter!

    Run the installation software on your Internet-attached PC and presto, your entire TV functionality has been migrated to your laptop PC. It was one of the smoothest installations I have executed in years. One further test: I wanted to confirm that my home TV could be viewed from anywhere on the Internet, so my next trip to a HotSpot-equipped Starbucks gave me that opportunity.

    The picture on the left (captured during the opening ceremony on Friday afternoon)demonstrates the overall excellent picture quality. The only time it gets the least bit fuzzy is when I expand it to cover the full 1680 x 1050 resolution of my Dell Inspiron. (No, you cannot record the video feed from SlingBox; recording with access via remote control requires a TiVo box. This picture was captured using Snag-It.)

    A few comments:
  • It allows me to view the programming I am already paying for through my Rogers Cable subscription. And I would still have to pay for any PPV programming.
  • There can only be one external viewer with access to the feed at a time; this avoids any accusation that SlingBox is facilitating "broadcasting" in any illegal manner with respect to the delivery of programming.
  • You do have total control of the cable box (including turning it off and on).
  • Make sure you establish some "rules" with the person who normally views the TV set; you do have to watch whatever is being shown on the same TV (unless you acquire a second cable box that is independent of your primary TV setup)

  • So next week I will be one of the few Canadians able to watch the CBC's full coverage of the Olympics while at a location in the U.S. that is well beyond the US-Canada border. SlingBox has solved my Olympic-size problem!

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Congrats to Alec, Howard and the Iotum Team

    Last week I reported on my visit to Iotum's offices where they demonstrated not only their Relevance Engine in operation but also the Pronto Conferencing audio conferencing product they were about to introduce at DEMO 2006 yesterday. A superbly well executed presentation in spite of one technical glitch.

    Last night they learned that they are "DEMO Gods" having won an award for one of the top ten presentations amongst the 70 or so given over the previous two days. As they flew home I received Messenger messages from them recovering from their shock as they floated along on cloud nine!

    And now the real challenge begins ... bringing their products and ideas to market. It will be quite a ride for the entire Iotum team that will build on both Alec's and Howard's wealth of technology business experience.

    Sunday, February 05, 2006

    First Press for my son's medical device company

    My oldest son, Brian, is a Founder with two partners of a medical device company, Kerberos Proximal Solutions, whose main product can assist with the removal of the blockage (thrombus) that can cause a heart attack. They got their first story in the public press today.

    "Imagine a drainage ditch full of grass, mud and dirt at a certain point, preventing overflow water from draining properly through the ditch. Then imagine firefighters forcing a powerful stream of water at the point of the block, breaking loose the grass, mud and dirt at the same time that a powerful vacuum hose sucks away the debris, allowing water to once again flow smoothly through the channel." Only in Texas would they come up with such a descriptive analogy to the junk that can build up in our arteries!