Engadget recently featured an article describing YouTube’s blocking of 1080p content from select sites which allowed users to display the content on televisions instead of their computer monitors, or sites which utilized the YouTube API. Like the Hulu block last year, blocking the PS3 from watching shows, it marked another moment when television content producers failed to ‘get it’. Their understanding of content in the face of their own dying industry is poor and misguided.
The blocks on both services are easily removed through the use of a proxy that can replace the browser’s header in the outbound HTTP request.
I have both professional and personal experience in media convergence; Throughout my career I’ve worked for three companies that did streaming video, from adult content (Gamelink), to mainstream media and Independent film (Ifilm/Viacom). On a personal level, the flooding of my loft space has forced me into some temporary housing where I currently cannot not install Internet or Cable service, and I’m forced into using the slow (but not entirely awful) landlord provided WiFi.
Initially the WiFi service was a nightmare, but after the introduction of a pair of Meraki mesh access points, I was able to boost the signal to the point where the PS3 and laptops in the living room could access video. Meraki’s hardware has proven to be excellent under poor signal conditions and simple to use.
On the big Samsung TV that I own, this leaves me with a few options for video at home:
- Hulu/Youtube via the PS3
- The same, via laptop
- Pay-to-play via the Playstation Store
- Pay-to-play via iTunes
- Basic Cable (no DVR, no channels, no time-shifting)
Most of these are great options (basic cable not withstanding). Laptop based options require me to connect cables, to lose the use of my laptop for the duration of the show, and because of the way the Mac supports full-screen websites, I can’t use fullscreen and the laptop’s screen at the same time. The PS3 is slow to download (although some of the best video I’ve seen on my TV), all Laptop options inconvenient (because of the cables)
It’s not about the technology either; We have the technology! It all works, just not as smoothly as the experience of loafing one’s self in front of the TV and pressing a couple buttons on a remote.
Content creators should be making every attempt to make it easier to consume their content, with advertising. There’s a duality here, where the online video world treats the laptop as a 1st class citizen and the TV as a second class citizen, and vice-versa when it comes to the Big Media world of Television.
All of this is about money — whom is paid and whom is not for the big business of the media world. The blocking needs to stop, and ad revenues shared between the content creators and the new distribution world of digital devices connected to large screens. There is fundamentally no difference between a large monitor, and the large flatscreen in front of my couch.