AppleTV & iTunes Dissintermediates Cable? Bigger Than Balloonboy Story.

Wowzer. Your’e going to want to read this post, because it’s hot news. And because I put some effort into some seriously solid metaphors that damned well better be scraped by some bigger bloggers.

For years I’ve been bitching and moaning about Apple not putting its little heart into AppleTV (instead of screwing with these ridiculous iPhone toys and their petulant little “apps”).


And all the while, the little Steve Jobs may have his eye on dissintermediating cable television. Fast Company provides some saucy news, and sources “All Things Digital.”

But this isn’t about the AppleTV, idiot. No it’s not about software or hardware. Apple is basically envisioning a $30-per-month iTunes television offering, which would give networks new reach via 100 million iTunes users. And that means you, like the 100 million iTunes users, would start watching shows via Apple both on your computer and (via some box) that big-ass monitor you call a Plasma or HDTV.

Do I need to repeat that? Television shows when you want, and on whatever damned screen you want. Oh, and a gentle reminder that technology companies will control your fate more than telephone, cable, publishers and networks (never mind that whole AOL/Times Warner hickup).

Alas, it’s hard for me to envision a scenario where cable companies don’t start tossing fecal matter like angry apes. But it’s a game of chess, not the beloved “toss-the-feces” we’d play at birthday parties. If Disney, as an example, slept with Apple… what could the angry ex (cable companies) do? They can’t very well drop Disney. And since Disney’s move would be the “tipping point” this all needs, Disney gets to set the terms. Girl, you know those Mickey Mice could nibble up an Apple like Piranha to a cow.

Fundamentally the broadcast networks have to decide whose bitch they want to be. Cable television or Apple’s.

If the music industry feels that iTunes was a good thing (additive revenue that didn’t exactly kill radio or CD sales entirely), then maybe the television networks go the same route. And to keep Apple “in check” they can replicate the terms via Hulu, YouTube or even some genius that manages to build a television-manufacturer standard.

The bottom line, however, is the train already left the station. I’m an example of a fast-follower (not early adopter), and I’m spending more each month on $1.99 television episodes than I am on a cable bill! I loath Verizon’s interface and on-demand library, and persist only because my wife likes depressing news and Nancy Grace, and my kids need their Nick Jr.

To be fair, I’m discovering I liked the control of “lean forward,” but I want to lay down on the couch and bed too. Love my TiVo, but it didn’t catch any fresh fish (like during this damned Fox Fringe hiatus), I dive into AppleTV and try out a new show… maybe buy a few episodes or a season pilot because $1.99 ain’t a bad price for 45 minutes of some boob-tube love making. I’m less often surfing YouTube’s most-popular list because it’s just a sad reminder remind of how much better Sxephil, Shaycarl, CharlesTrippy and ShaneDawson are than me. Last night me, Charlie and Grant and me did start a YouTube binge that began with Edbassmaster, then progress on a downward spiral that culminated in farts and babies. But then we jumped back to paid episodes of Angry Beavers. Damn that intro is hip.

Speaking of YouTube, those trained monkeys better get their own poop in palm. They’ve cornered the market on searchable video, but this is a bidneth model that can move faster than ad-supported web video. I think this crap (you know the kids are saying that now like it means nothing anymore) is bigger than the Balloonboy story. Except the Falcon hiding in the attic and puking on CNN might just be… Comcast, Verizon and other cable providers. I predict Hulu maintains its relevance if this shakes out, unless Apple iTunes makes itself incredibly easy to purchase and view via both web and those BIG ASS televisiony-like monitors. Hell in a few years, maybe we don’t even know or care where our video content comes from.

Yeah- I even think this story might be bigger news even than last night’s AppleTV upgrade:

“WTF? A vertical menu?” he says, tossing his mini white remote that has been chewed to near obsolescence. Fade to black.

Hulu Plus Disney: Why Jason Kilar “Gets It”

This morning I had the pleasure of meeting Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, who speaks elegantly about balancing his company’s three key customers: viewers, content producers and advertisers. His focus on convenience and simplicity of video content is unmatched, and is quickly turning Hulu into more than a website (Hulu recently jumped to #3 in online video, surprisingly beating Yahoo Video but not surprisingly beating “wheezing” AOL Video according to comScore).

Hulu CEO Jason Kilar
Hulu CEO Jason Kilar

Kilar agreed to be in one of my goofball videos, but was not surprisingly swept away mid-morning as news broke of the Disney/Hulu deal. Catch ya next time, Kilar. We’re not offended that WVFF didn’t get an exclusive on the Disney deal before the networks.

A few notables from his talk private presentation (which I had the sad task of following). And, no, Nalts will not be appearing on Hulu. It’s focused on “professional” content, so I need not apply.

  • Awareness, message association, brand favor-ability and audience intent increase from 4-20% after Hulu ads.
  • He’s got a great new feature that allows consumers to select the ad, and an even cooler one that lets the advertiser survey the viewer (which gives the viewer fewer interuptions).
  • Still struggling with distribution beyond computers, because television can put him at odds with cable and¬†networks. He doesn’t appear to be soon helping me watch Hulu on AppleTV. ūüôĀ
  • A lot has changed since Hitchcock Presents (his mom’s favorite show- Kilar’s is Speed Racer, and he used to run home from school, only to catch it 9 minutes late). Hitchcock ran 4 minutes of ad times (with 26 minutes of show). But The Office runs 8 minutes of ads (with about 22 minutes of show). Hulu strives to keep ads to about 1/15th of program time, which seems more than fair. Consumers can¬†choose to watch a 3-minute movie preview, then enjoy uninterrupted full episodes of shows.
  • Brand recall on Hulu is nearly twice what broadcast or cable provides (58% to 34% and 28% respectively). Same as message recall.
  • I expected to hear from an old-media junky, desperately pitching prerolls. Instead met an incredibly humble Pittsburgh dude who has a vision for how consumers can enjoy ad-supported content with higher convenience than television. He was at Amazon before Amazon was Amazon, and launched Hulu while launching his 3rd kid. He seemed mildly receptive to me renting his kids for videos.
  • Kilar likened Hulu to Starbucks, where consumption grows because of convenience. So watch for Hulu ubiquity via mobile, web and other mediums. Kilar reminded us of The Onion’s article: Starbucks Puts a New Starbucks Inside a Starbucks Restroom.” Full of Hot Air; AppleTV Must Save Us.

I got all excited when I read that will distribute videos.¬†Sadly, like most of the most-subscribed YouTubers, less than 5% of my traffic occurs beyond YouTube. I couldn’t even remember if I post to DailyMotion. That’s because YouTube dominates, but also because people on other video sites aren’t as loyal to them, and watch a fraction (maybe 5-10 percent) of the videos per week that a hardcore YouTuber devours.¬†

Back to Hulu. A search for “Nalts” on Hulu oddly produces just one result. One. A bit lower than the 739,000 items that Google finds. And it’s… a link to my fart video on “Funny or Die.” Not “Farting in Public.” No, the original short film, in which I fart at my son. That’s hot air, friends.

It doesn’t appear that Hulu is yet picking up the DaiyMotion videos yet. And who knows if they’ll go beyond “official content.” You see, a Nalts search on DailyMotion reveals HBO’s HookingUp as “Official Content,” but the Nalts videos lacks that badge o’ honor.¬†I don’t expect to attract many fans of amateur short-form content in the near term. And we can be sure that long-form, network produced content will rise far above the charming little YouTube weblebrities.¬†

In a hurry? Let’s get to the point, shall we? May I just pop the friggin’ industry’s “Hulu proved TV online works” zit for a moment? Can I just squeeze my fat fingers around this lemming-like nonsense and shoot some pimple juice in your eye?

  1. First let me acknowledge that Hulu is far better than I ever expected. It’s simple, and it’s proof that networks can play well together… when facing a common enemy. The hulu party is over, however, once we all have media devices that don’t care where the video lives (hulu or, because then the networks will then again fight to get viewers on their own sites again… where they have control of metrics and ads.
  2. I don’t yet watch a lot of Hulu, because I prefer to have my long-form media intravaniously dripped while I’m in a reclining position in bed. And I like the HD quality of AppleTV/iTunes, or the cost/convenience of my NetFlix/Roku device (all-you-can-eat movies for $9 a month plus a $100 device). ¬†I tolerate my horrible Verizon DVR (with its perverse $19.99 monthly cost), but that SOB going OUT tomorrow afternoon. It will be replaced by a TiVo plus a $5 Cablecard rental. Oh, sweet TiVo. I’ve longed for your angelic plink sound for two years. I did manage to get Boxee to stream Hulu on my AppleTV (thanks Peter Coffin), but I lost all of that when Apple pushed out an upgrade over the weekend. I’m too lazy to reinstall it, and it was a¬†clumsy¬†interface and poor quality. But I still dig Boxee, and it’s new.
  3. But back to Hulu and its hot farty air. I swear I’m going to punch the next journalist that rants about Hulu’s profit relative to YouTube. For starters, have you ever purchased media? Any print/TV media seller will gladly toss in an assload of Internet ads as a “value add.” So the networks, in a fit to jolt Hulu’s economic story, simply stopped giving away free Internet inventory. Given a relatively lean cost structure (outsourced to India), the Hulu site was *poof* “profitable.” And let’s put profit into context- I’d estimate that 5-10 minutes of Superbowl ads made more than’s topline¬†last year.
  4. There’s no mistaking that Hulu is perceived as “safe” to advertisers. Just quality content. No crazy consumer-generated videos that corrupts advertising as we know it. Who wants their Cash for Gold ad next to David After the Dentist? Hulu solves that passive-aggressive motive of the mass media buyer (who regrets giving up his art passion for a soulless existence buying inventory). The media buyer can reluctantly “get digital” without having to actually talk to his agency’s red-headed stepchild — the girl we like to call the digital media buyer (he doesn’t mind suffering her mindless droning at happy hour, but her good looks are offset by the fact that without them she’d be working at the Department of Motor Vehicles).
  5. Meanwhile we have to assume two things. First, Google will find a way to monetize its 90 plus percent share of online-video consumption beyond the “tip of the¬†iceberg” it monetizes today. And sooner or later, Google will give larger networks a vehicle to monetize content that’s at least as good as Hulu.¬†
  6. So the market is maturing, and I underestimated But ultimately the game changer is not a website with all of the networks shows partying together with ads. That’s progress, but that’s just the first step of a much more interesting movement.
  7. We’re getting so very close to having one dang media center in our home that has access to our own digital video, and web’s. I want comfortable access from any TV in the house, without 12 devices and contracts. I’ve got my money on Apple changing the game (like they did with music and mobile/pda/phone) in 2009/2010 with a new version of AppleTV (someone right that down). The Supercharged AppleTV is going to play better with and, and it’s going to provide the option to download and watch in HD (as it does now) or watch in lower resolution with ads for free. Maybe there’s a monthly fee, but not 8 different ones.¬†

And that, friends, is lovely. And the only loser in my futuristic super-media device that will be the Comcasts and Verizons, who know as much as elegant interface as I know about how to write a short blog post. I’ll be glad when we¬†dissintehrmediate¬†these fools (even if they supertax our bandwidth), and so will Hulu and the networks. Hey Verizon- love the big pipe you installed in my home, but I can’t wait to fall asleep to the sweet sound of TiVo and know I’ll never have to use your stupid interface again.¬†

Well now it’s 10:30. I think wifeofnalts will be asleep, so I can probably sneak in a few episodes of Season 3 Lost now. I borrowed this season after buying the first two on AppleTV. And now I have no patience for changing DVDs and suffering through their irritating introduction and transitions. Meh.

You laugh, but some jackass analyst is going to find a way to organize and profit from these Nalts-futuristic insights, and I’m posting this nonsense for free.

Watch Superbowl Ads Online on 7 Video Sites

Why watch the game, when you can catch all of the advertisements on these online-video sites? And hey- most of these ads don’t have any prerolls. That goodness Madison Avenue and the online-video sites are finally cooperating.¬†