The view from Digital Hollywood looks pretty grim to me. 3-D TV was a disappointment, 4K TV (aka Ultra HDTV) is pretty much a useless extravagance, quality video is a poor stepchild in today’s wireless world and nobody wants to buy movies anymore.
Two Digital Hollywood insiders I talked to in a recent trip there expressed optimism given the breadth and pace of activity these days. Still, I see a town in search of the next big thing.
After its big debut a couple years ago, 3-D TV was hardly mentioned at the recent Consumer Electronics Show and broadcasters have pulled the plug on some 3-D channels. The lack of content and the need for glasses are both taking the blame for 3-D’s fizzle in the home.
Some had high hopes for the autostereoscopic approach Philips pioneered. But few think Dolby, which now owns the technology, has the clout to drive it forward. After a big belly flop, climbing back on the diving board is harder.
Samsung is pushing 3-D TV forward with work on a Bluetooth standard for active shutter glasses with backing from Panasonic and Sony. It also set up a facility in South Korea to convert 2-D content to 3-D.
Live sports is a big missing piece. “If the Super Bowl was broadcast in 3-D, this would be a different discussion,” said Brad Hunt, principal of Digital Media Directions (Westlake Village, Calif.).
The Ultra HDTV (4K x 2K) displays at CES seem to have left everyone cold. To really see all those extra pixels you need the equivalent of a 96-inch home TV, but even the more standard size screens are way too expensive for the average Joe, I am told.
The trouble is without a next big thing like 3-D or 4K, TVs remain stuck with their role as a commodity product. “We are back to TV sets sold by the inch so it’s hard for anyone to make a profit--and 4K is potentially a race to the bottom,” said Andrew G. Setos, chief executive of Blackstar Engineering (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) and a veteran audio-visual engineer.
“I think the improvement could come in truly lower cost of manufacturing--not by lower labor costs but a new mechanism that may be protected by patents--then TV manufacturers could make profits, but until then they are in a world of hurt,” he said.
From what I've read, the movie studios are subsidizing the shift to digital cinema. As they should, since it means huge savings to them primarily. I don't know whether this subsidy is for all theaters, or just the major chains, however.
About the comment on the "hassle" of finding decent TV content to watch over the Internet. Using any search engine, and I typically use Webcrawler (just to prove the point that Google isn't all there is on this planet), I can find any number of TV/movie content sites or portals. The portals are essentially search engines in their own right. Beyond the obvious Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu, that is. So pick one or more of these portals, and also use the TV networks' own web sites, and I honestly can't fathom what more TV anyone could possibly watch.
This is just to show that the well publicized "solutions," such as AppleTV, GoogleTV, Roku, et al., are HARDLY the answer to Internet TV. They are merely overly-restrictive solutions, and hardly essential. TV content on the Internet is no different from any other content on the Internet. Why assume that TV content must be different? Search it out the same as anything else, bookmark your favorite portals, and enjoy!
I use over the air TV (47 channels in my market), I use Internet TV, no cable, no Netflix, no Hulu Plus, and I still have way more content out there than I would ever be able to sit through.
To tie this back to the article, I guess I'm saying that if Hollywood doesn't "get" what digital is offering them, they need to wake up.
Maybe the next big thing is an intelligent agent that seeks out the content each of us might find interesting among all those thousands of dispersed channels.
That and the death of so-called reality TV, which has about as much to do with reality as flying unicorns do :)
Most movies I have wasted time and money watching of late need neither 4K nor 3D, they need a script... The cinemas have sufficiently destroyed the movie going experience to send us home & the supply end have some how manged to attribute a fall decline in the market to piracy as opposed to a simple lack of quality product. Somehow the plethora of inbred two-heads chasing some form of wild critter or a house full of bitchy ditzes is seen a suitable substitute for entertainment. Should see a rise in book sales again soon...
In regards to the hassle, people who frequent EETimes aren't really the norm to judge complexity against. Internet TV will take off when it's about the same in complexity as a typical cable box to plug in, turn on and use.
Companies like Netflix, Blockbuster online and Hulu need to be accessible as easily as is a typical cable TV channel today.
When that's the case, potatoes can rule to couch again and TV makers will have their brief window of high margins followed by high volumes until the next big thing hits.
"In regards to the hassle, people who frequent EETimes aren't really the norm to judge complexity against. Internet TV will take off when it's about the same in complexity as a typical cable box to plug in, turn on and use."
But Duane, these people use the Internet all day long. Why should we expect that they will become thoroughly incompetent when they want to watch TV?
With my PC-become-TV-STB, I can reach any Internet TV site I use with a single click of the (remote, sitting on my couch) mouse. Could anything be easier? And I can search out any content not available at these sites with any search engine. I have found numerous portals that way.
Connected TVs should provide this same functionality. It's hardly rocket science. And all the companies you mentioned would indeed be accessible easily.
"Connected TV" has long existed. Long long time ago, there were Viiv, AMD Now. Now, there are Google TV, Connected TV, Apple TV, or whatever. This is how many people in the EE trade, TV trade, CE trade, justify their existence by re-packaging old stuff!
Now whats wrong with 96" in your house? And why not in every room and on your kitchen table surface? And panels on your wall covered in pixels? If its cheap? And why necessarily use the full area for the content at all times? Where is the fantasy? Hollywood will only be a small portion of this content, but I can see they stuggle with gaming and other social internet interaction. Maybe hollywood should buy Facebook and some tech company that doesnt care about excess pixels and start developing a full everyday experience. This is probably something Apple could do in 10-20 years, if it got focus.
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