Let’s see, I slept for 7 hours; it’s a new day and an announcement of yet another start up in the internet video space. This seems like a daily ritual.
The newest is Sync TV, a spin off from consumer electronics company Pioneer, which launched a beta download service.
The audio and video quality of the TV shows is comparable or superior to the same show on DVD. SyncTV will provide HD programming across some of the different channels and will also have programming available in discreet 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus, giving you the “home theater” experience. They allow you a great deal of flexibility in how you play back the TV shows you download. You can play back shows on up to five ‘home’ devices which mean PCs/Macs now and other home entertainment devices in the future (read portable players).
That’s the good news. The bad news is yet another DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology for the consumer to try and get their head around. Sync TV is using an open-standard DRM called Marlin. Yet another group of top electronics manufacturers joining forces to develop a standard for content management and protection. Marlin is also referred to as “OMArlin” because it supposedly bridges between the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) DRM v.2.0 and the Marlin DRM standards. Does anyone care, outside the companies involved? Not really. Consumers might agree that content protection is a good idea but, they just want to play their stuff on all their devices. And they want everything to be cheaper, too.
It’s another set of companies trying to protect what they see as their intellectual property and make money. You could make the claim as the same motive as Microsoft, Apple, RealNetworks and others in the DRM struggle. The marketing spin tries to convince us that DRM is intended to make it easy for us to buy content and share it, without being encumbered by content protection schemes. But, adding Marlin to this mix will be yet another failed attempt to create a DRM “standard”.
What I do find interesting with Sync TV and all the regulatory noise about bundled programming, is the fact that users can subscribe a-la-carte for a variety of programs they want to watch. Each channel costs about $2 each per month, and currently there are four subscription channels available. Showtime is the foundation partner with promise of more.
The Sync TV launch underscores the two worlds that now exist–the heavily regulated telecoms and broadcasting sectors and the almost entirely unregulated internet channel.
Where do you think most of the innovation is?