8/10/2005

HBO on Steroids?

Unlike Chauncey Gardener, I don’t particularly like to watch, but even my un-hip eyes can see the evolution occurring in television -- the most recent example being the impending launch of Veoh, a peer-to-peer network designed to distribute independent video content. Thanks to Paid Content for heralding this San Diego startup and reporting that it “will launch its software in beta later this month.” Veoh is the brainchild of Dmitry Shapiro, who was founder and chief technologist of Akonix Systems, a security management startup in San Diego. This serial entrepreneur hails from Russia and studied economics at Yale before putting theory into practice in San Diego. The Veoh web site lays out this capsule business model: “Veoh does not charge content producers to broadcast their content, and allows them to specify if they would like to offer that content for free or for a fee. Veoh derives revenues from taking a percentage of the fee, or advertising wrapped around the free content.” A new blog launched to build community around the site offers a whimsical explanation of the company name. (Business tip: Weeks ago, San Francisco Bay Area video maven Mary Hodder clued me in as to the why of all these weird names. They come without the baggage of prior connotations, so startups fortunate enough to get attention define their own identity.) Paid Content tempered its hopeful pre-launch buzz with the caveat that Veoh would have to differentiate “itself from the likes of OMN, OurMedia.org, BrightCove, DTV, and others fast crowding into the field” of P2P video distribution. (Another aside:JD Lasica, executive director of OurMedia, has a new book out called DarkNet: Hollywood’s War Against the Digital Generation.” Speaking of the copyright wars, I came across a bit via the Informitv newsletter that I interpreted as a sign of possible rapprochement between the studios and the indies. Mitch Singer, head of digital policy at Sony Pictures Entertainment, apparently told of group of interactive TV experts in LaLaLand that the video industry would be foolish to repeat the mistakes of the music industry and fight download culture instead of looking for a way to co-opt and coexist with it. The newsletter quotes Singer thus (abbreviated and rearranged by me by use of ellipsis): “There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to look back at this time and we’re going to see the internet was the most important tool for the distribution of content to the home . . . and (that) we’re going to end up find(ing) that peer-to-peer is the technology . . . Quite frankly I’m ashamed to say that most of the time we view this as a threat . . . but you can’t stop technology.” Tom Abate MiniMediaGuy ‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media

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