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Old Jan 21, 2014, 06:34 PM   #1
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Amazon Examining Online Subscription-Based Live Television Service [Update: Amazon Denies]




Amazon is considering the launch of a live subscription-based online television service, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The service would include live television channels from major providers, with Amazon approaching at least three media companies to distribute their channels online.

Apple was said to be in high-level negotiations with television content providers in August of last year for a similar Internet-based subscription TV service.

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Still, Amazon's initiative is in the early stages, and it isn't clear whether it will move forward. Several other tech companies including Sony Corp. and Google Inc. are pursuing similar initiatives. An Amazon spokesman declined to comment.

[...]

Acquiring TV channel rights has proved challenging for the other companies trying to launch Web-TV services. Media giants that control TV networks and studios don't want to do anything to harm incumbent pay-TV providers, whose payments for carriage of channels are propelling the industry's growth. Those companies seeking to launch new services have struggled to negotiate licensing terms that would allow them to price their services competitively.
While Apple -- and Google -- have looked into an online subscription service, Intel recently sold its nascent cable television service to Verizon and all companies are reportedly having difficulties convincing content providers to partner with an online alternative to existing cable and satellite companies -- a very significant revenue stream for them.

Amazon currently offers streaming television and movies through its Amazon Prime Instant Video service, its Netflix competitor that works on a number of different platforms including recent PlayStation and Xbox consoles, the Roku box, and a number of smart televisions. Amazon has reportedly been working on a set-top box competitor to the Apple TV and Roku boxes as well, something that could accompany a potential subscription television service.

Update: In an emailed statement to CNN reporter Brian Stelter, Amazon said that while it continues "to build selection for Prime Instant Video and create original shows at Amazon Studios" it is "not planning to license television channels or offer a pay-TV service."
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After WSJ story http://t.co/nGsyjStWb9, strong rebuttal from Amazon: "We are not planning to license TV channels or offer a pay-TV service." - Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 22, 2014

Article Link: Amazon Examining Online Subscription-Based Live Television Service [Update: Amazon Denies]
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 06:37 PM   #2
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Their current instant video service seems cool, but according to the reviews they block AirPlay streaming to an AppleTV or Lightning HDMI cable. That makes the service a lot less useful for me and others.
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 06:38 PM   #3
brendu
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I really want apple (and even amazon or Microsoft or google) to succeed with this but fear the cable companies will never let it happen. I know that I won't ever give comcast, time warner, or verizon a cent until they change the way they do business. Those companies are absolutely awful.
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 06:39 PM   #4
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Makes sense. The problem with subscription TV that Netflix has been having is that there is no way to pay for enough content while still making a profit at the prices consumers will pay. Amazon has a big advantage here- they can sell the content at a loss and drive Netflix out of business, using their pet judges and government officials to turn any unwanted antitrust attention on their opponents. Then, when the time comes and the monopoly is secure, start raising the price...
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 06:54 PM   #5
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Netflix isn't subscription tv, it is tv (movies) on demand. Subscription tv is identical to cable or satellite with the difference being it comes over internet instead.

What I don't get is don't the distributors see all these new companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Hulu, etc) as potentially more profitable than any backlash they might get from the incumbent telcos?

Who cares if AT&T and Verizon get pissed if the distributors see more income through wider availability on potentially hundreds of new platforms?

What exactly do the incumbents have that makes distributors so scared?
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 06:57 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by dave420 View Post
Their current instant video service seems cool, but according to the reviews they block AirPlay streaming to an AppleTV or Lightning HDMI cable. That makes the service a lot less useful for me and others.
If you're talking about their iOS app, they fixed the airplay issue some months ago. I can now open up a movie in their iPad app and stream it to my AppleTV with the cover closed with no problem -- definitely wasn't like that when the app first launched.
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 07:05 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by mcfmullen View Post
What I don't get is don't the distributors see all these new companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Hulu, etc) as potentially more profitable than any backlash they might get from the incumbent telcos?

Who cares if AT&T and Verizon get pissed if the distributors see more income through wider availability on potentially hundreds of new platforms?

What exactly do the incumbents have that makes distributors so scared?
It is a mystery just how cowardly content providers are when it comes to pissing off the networks. I'm going to guess that the amount the networks pay is an order of magnitude more than what they get for online sales, and they don't believe that online sales will catch up any time soon. That's sort of a bizarre belief considering that the end of the "pay for bundles of crappy channels you don't watch so you can watch your interrupted advert-filled show when the cable company tells you to" model would seem to be inevitable... I mean I can see how they are too risk adverse to mess with their business model and use the interwebs, but considering where things are going, and how much they will lose to piracy, they are taking a big risk staying off the web.
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 07:28 PM   #8
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Amazon Prime services are excellent.
Between a good over the air HD antenna, Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime you can have enough entertainment to forget about live TV and cable. Only live sports, are missed.
Hopefully the Net Neutrality doesn't get eliminatedÖ
Cable business model is terrible for the consumers, and unfortunately still have millions of subscribers paying for modem rental fees, $10/month for HD and countless infomercials. On demand services that suck with plenty of commercials, and terrible interface.
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 07:46 PM   #9
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If you're talking about their iOS app, they fixed the airplay issue some months ago. I can now open up a movie in their iPad app and stream it to my AppleTV with the cover closed with no problem -- definitely wasn't like that when the app first launched.
Cool, thanks for the info. I wanted to buy a movie the other day but the reviews I read said AirPlay wasn't supported. Glad they have made that improvement.
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 07:54 PM   #10
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It is a mystery just how cowardly content providers are when it comes to pissing off the networks. I'm going to guess that the amount the networks pay is an order of magnitude more than what they get for online sales, and they don't believe that online sales will catch up any time soon. That's sort of a bizarre belief considering that the end of the "pay for bundles of crappy channels you don't watch so you can watch your interrupted advert-filled show when the cable company tells you to" model would seem to be inevitable... I mean I can see how they are too risk adverse to mess with their business model and use the interwebs, but considering where things are going, and how much they will lose to piracy, they are taking a big risk staying off the web.
You pretty much answered your own question. Why rush in to taking a massive pay cut (and risk burning very lucrative bridges) on the assumption that maybe someday in the future you'll get back to making what you used to make?

Last year when Viacom and DirecTV finally agreed on a new deal it was a 7 year deal worth billions of dollars, and that's just one deal with one provider. For 'new media' players like Amazon, Apple and Netflix that's a lot of up front costs and for 'old media' content creators that's a lot of money to walk away from. Also, ads that run on streaming media pay content creators significantly less than ads that run on TV/cable/sat so trying to branch out from old media to new media is a double hit when it comes to revenue streams.
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 07:54 PM   #11
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Now if only Amazon Prime was available through Apple TV not just through Airplay it would be the day. Hold on now you will see people telling you not going to happen because it would indirectly competing with iTunes, than explain to me how is it on the iPhone with Airplay? iPhone has iTunes too right?


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Old Jan 21, 2014, 08:23 PM   #12
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You pretty much answered your own question. Why rush in to taking a massive pay cut (and risk burning very lucrative bridges) on the assumption that maybe someday in the future you'll get back to making what you used to make?
Because the pay cut is inevitable and whether you take it in 1 year or 5 years or 10 years is far less important than who will come out on top in the new order to come, which will be partly determined by who has the balls to get moving first? They seem to be betting that when the day comes when they can no longer get good contracts with cable companies (because enough people have stopped buying cable TV all together) they will be able to seamlessly transition to new media. I doubt it- the dinos are especially bad at transitions, they just can't see their own weakness.
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 09:01 PM   #13
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Now if only Amazon Prime was available through Apple TV not just through Airplay it would be the day. Hold on now you will see people telling you not going to happen because it would indirectly competing with iTunes, than explain to me how is it on the iPhone with Airplay? iPhone has iTunes too right?


Are you being sarcastic or do you really not understand? Unlike the iPhone, Apple TV doesn't have the App Store. It's apps rely on an entirely closed system controlled by Apple. On the other hand, if Apple were to deny Amazon's Instant Video app, it would bring up anti-competitive issues because there really is no logical reason why the app should have been denied.

A better argument would have been to bring up the fact that both Netflix and Hulu Plus are on the Apple TV.
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 09:09 PM   #14
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It's pretty sad how much the media companies have their heels dug in on this issue.

I haven't had cable tv for several years now and overall I've been happy with just Netflix. I was in a hotel recently and I watched cable and was just amazed by the amount of commercials most of the channels have. THEY SHOULD BE PAYING US TO WATCH IT!

Seriously, someone needs to break the logjam and give people what they want...choice and freedom. I don't want to pay for rip-off cable packages. I don't watch sports so I don't need 15+ sports channels. Let me create my own package with 15-25 channels that I'll actually enjoy and let's come up with a fair price.

In a side note...why not start by streaming terrestrial content through the Apple TV? Abc, nbc, and others already broadcast their content over the air for free...can't we at least start with that? I live in a valley and have crappy reception...can't they at least do that for me?
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 09:53 PM   #15
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Are you being sarcastic or do you really not understand? Unlike the iPhone, Apple TV doesn't have the App Store. It's apps rely on an entirely closed system controlled by Apple. On the other hand, if Apple were to deny Amazon's Instant Video app, it would bring up anti-competitive issues because there really is no logical reason why the app should have been denied.

A better argument would have been to bring up the fact that both Netflix and Hulu Plus are on the Apple TV.
Oh now it is because there is no App store or the obvious because both Netflix and Hulu Plus are on Apple TV you talk to me like I am clueless and the App Store is not a reason why Amazon Prime is not on Apple TV try again please.
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 10:00 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by shiseiryu1 View Post
It's pretty sad how much the media companies have their heels dug in on this issue.

I haven't had cable tv for several years now and overall I've been happy with just Netflix. I was in a hotel recently and I watched cable and was just amazed by the amount of commercials most of the channels have. THEY SHOULD BE PAYING US TO WATCH IT!
I've been saying this for a long time! It's the only industry that gets away with charging exorbitant fees from their users to give them crap they don't want, and it's 30% ads which they get paid to show!

I was trying to think of what the big difference between music in the late 90s and TV today is that would cause these companies to be so much more resistive, and I think I've figured it out.

In the late 90s, the music industry was eroding at an alarming rate on account of piracy. People would rip songs, make mix tapes, record songs right off the radio, make copies and give it to their friends, and use this scary thing called P2P file sharing or rhapsody to share their songs. They were scared and looking for a way to stop these trends before they got out of hand, and Apple's iTunes with DRM looked like a savior to them.

Today, it's not even close to the same thing with TV. iTunes would rip and burn CDs for you, but most people don't know of a way to rip and burn DVDs (Handbreak can rip them... I'm not sure how to burn them.) Most people are amazed when I tell them that you can use the very same P2P programs that they used to use to pirate music to pirate TV and movies. It just blows their mind somehow that there isn't some kind of magical difference between audio and video files. There's nothing like Rhapsody trying to hand out copy written videos despite how completely illegal it is.

With most people being blissfully unaware of how easy it is to pirate videos, people don't. And since piracy isn't here for videos the way it was for audio (it was easier to pirate songs than to buy them - most people don't know that the same can be said about videos) - the video industry has nothing to fear. So they can afford to treat their customers like crap because their customers don't know how to get around them.

Maybe South Park should make a follow up to their Cable company episode from this season to cover the piracy of videos, so that everyone realizes it can be done. Once everyone starts pirating videos to protest the raw deal cable companies give us, maybe producers will start treating customers better and warm up to Apple (or any other companies) plans.
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 10:02 PM   #17
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I haven't had cable tv for several years now and overall I've been happy with just Netflix. I was in a hotel recently and I watched cable and was just amazed by the amount of commercials most of the channels have. THEY SHOULD BE PAYING US TO WATCH IT!
Indeed. Once you go a couple of years without watching add-supported content, it really becomes obnoxious how many ads there are and how obnoxious and offensive they often are. I'm amazed that people rot their brains watching that crap. I watch what I can on Netflix and iTunes- I only watch a couple hours a week so it doesn't cost me much- in order to support the idea of online content. If content isn't available in my region in any online format, which is often the case, well there are other methods...
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 10:18 PM   #18
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Because the pay cut is inevitable...
Just because it's inevitable doesn't mean you do it before you deem it necessary. For example, would you rather take a 50% pay cut and wait 10yrs for your pay level to return to 100% or would you rather take a 50% pay cut and wait 2 years for your pay level to return to 100%?


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I doubt it- the dinos are especially bad at transitions, they just can't see their own weakness.
W/o the "dino" we wouldn't even be having this conversation as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon streaming, Vudu, etc., wouldn't even exist. Monetization on the Internet is still dwarfed by the monetization ability of traditional cable, sat and OTA broadcasts.
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Old Jan 21, 2014, 10:26 PM   #19
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Oh now it is because there is no App store or the obvious because both Netflix and Hulu Plus are on Apple TV you talk to me like I am clueless and the App Store is not a reason why Amazon Prime is not on Apple TV try again please.
Your initial argument: You disagree with the idea that Amazon is not on the Apple TV because its an iTunes competitor. Your reasoning was that Amazon's app is available on the iPhone, which also has iTunes.

What I was saying was that I agree that the "Amazon is a competitor" argument is flawed. However, I also believe your "Amazon on iPhone" reasoning is flawed (for obvious reasons). A good reason why the "Amazon is a competitor" argument is incorrect is because other iTunes competitors, Netflix & Hulu Plus, are already on the Apple TV.


PS. Why the faces?
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Old Jan 22, 2014, 12:11 AM   #20
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Just because it's inevitable doesn't mean you do it before you deem it necessary. For example, would you rather take a 50% pay cut and wait 10yrs for your pay level to return to 100% or would you rather take a 50% pay cut and wait 2 years for your pay level to return to 100%?
You make a reasonable argument, but it is contingent on the idea that if you wait another 8 years you will still be able to get back to 100%. That may not be the case for content providers. Allowing other sources of content to fill the online void for years and years, be it Netflix original material, user-generated content, pirated content, etc. means that big content will never get back to 100% or anywhere close. They stand a real risk of becoming the online underdog, but with a hugely expensive business model and the wrong talent to compete online. Actually trying to adapt now could prevent some of the later damage, unless they've given up on their futures and know they will face the same end game as print media regardless of what they do.
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Old Jan 22, 2014, 04:46 AM   #21
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Even though it may not save us money, anything to stick it to those near-monopolistic cable/satellite providers, is good news, whether it comes from Apple, Amazon or anyone else.
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Old Jan 22, 2014, 06:45 AM   #22
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I am a fan of Amazon. I welcomed Amazonís Prime and Instant Services when they were created and I will do so if Amazon makes TV on demand a reality. Iíve recently joined Amazon Prime. If you are like me and buy almost everything there, itís good value for money. As I have a lot of purchases from there Iíve been trying to find a way to create a digital inventory of all of them. Iíve recently come across Unioncy (www.unioncy.com) that automatically creates a catalogue of all my Amazon belongings. Seems to be quite useful to me. Iím curious to hear if anyone else has tried and can share your experience?
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Old Jan 22, 2014, 04:39 PM   #23
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Eircom have something similar to this here, I think. It's called eVision. It uses their fibre optic lines to "stream" channels over to your receiver. Quite interesting.
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