When will PS3, Xbox, Wii incorporate Internet TV?

Netflix and Hulu Plus have both taken advantage of the internet connectivity of videogame systems — Sony’s Playstation 3, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii (still waiting on Hulu for Wii) — when it comes to streaming video content on our TV’s.

But when will Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo enter the game themselves? Doing so would offer another bit of differentiation, another perk for owners of each console. It might also further shift the demographics from what was once a teen obsession – playing videogames – to what is becoming a family pastime.

Of the current generation of systems, more than 162 million units have been sold. But neither is personally taking advantage of its online content or users.

Playstation has a subscription service, called “Playstation Plus” that offers game discounts, game demos and free offerings; but no streaming movies or tv episodes. There are options to purchase such episodes, like “A Colbert Christmas,” a special for the Holidays at $6.99. Colbert dubs it as the “Greatest Gift of All.” That’s about as VOD as it gets for PS3.

So Playstation obviously has a desire to attract monthly subscribers. That is the point to its Playstation Plus. One year will cost you $49.99, or you can try a three-month subscription for $17.99.

That works out to a little over $4 per month for the one-year plan. With both Netflix (for the streaming-only option) and Hulu Plus at $7.99 per month, if Sony were to include streaming videos its Playstation One membership, I’d have to believe more owners would take advantage.

[Vudu is a VOD service, acquired by Walmart in 2010. Vudu offers movie rentals, like an online version of a video-rental store. Today’s Pay-per-view. There is no subscription available. Vudu is also available through Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii.]

To this point, Playstation, Xbox and Wii have been sitting on the sidelines, watching other services take advantage of their systems. Fight back, I say! Game on!

Xbox 360 has a subscription plan as well, two tiers actually, in the same price line as Playstation Plus. Xbox is doing a better job with streaming features, as part of their plan includes ESPN content, streamed to your TV. I have a Playstation 3 and a Wii in my household, but no Xbox. I also have a Sony Blu-ray Player. And my Roku Digital Video Player is on the way.

  • Before we see PS3, Wii or Xbox 360 offering streaming movies or TV episodes, watch for systems to develop internet applications or apps. How about Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo apps, available via free download? That’s probably the first move for any system. Sony already has apps on its line of Blu-ray Players (free with purchase), as do every other manufacturer of Blu-ray or Media Players. I won’t even get into those… GoogleTV, Roku, Boxee Box, Sony, Vizio…all have their own set of  internet “apps” like Fandango, Amazon Video on-demand, Rhapsody, WikiTV, Vudu, Pandora, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Revision 3, the Weather Channel or Yahoo News, Sports, Weather (a sample of Vizio Internet Apps). Or take Roku, which offers many of the same apps as Vizio, but adds NHL, MLB, UFC, Mp3 Tunes, Break.com, NASA, Flixster. My point is, each media player is offering its own set of internet apps, all free with the purchase of a player. Why not offer these on the consoles themselves? Playstation Apps, Xbox Apps, Wii Apps… Nintendo’s Wii has a version of this, which it calls “Channels” on the main screen. (As far as I’m aware, the Wii Channels have remained relatively the same since their launch.) Xbox has its ESPN internet app/channel. But this is as close as any are getting to developing their own applications.

In addition to Movies and TV shows, these systems could offer rentals of their own games, possibly within the same subscription plan or on a tiered plan.

That would merge these two successful methods of video and game rentals: Netflix and Gamefly.

Gamefly is a game-rental service, currently available only by mail, no on demand. But the vidoegame systems are already capable of game downloads via the internet. You can purchase full games or game demos without a disc.

To be fair, Blockbuster recently announced a change to its by-mail rental service: they are now offering movies and games by mail.

If Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are do this, the time is now. By implementing streaming video and/or Internet apps and possibly Games on Demand (GOD?) to boot, they’d have a great shot at competing with services like Netflix and Hulu Plus on their consoles, and could really take a chunk out of game services like Gamefly and Blockbuster.

It’s been clear since Xbox (the first go-around) that videogame systems are attempting to become not only a source of gaming, but a part of our entire home entertainment system. Implementing Internet TV is the next logical move.

As of the second quarter of 2010, Sony has sold 41.6 million Playstation 3 units. Xbox 360 tops out at 44.6 in the same time period. And Nintendo Wii, 75.9 million. For a grand video-game total  (among PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii) of 162.1 million and counting…

Who will be the first to fully embrace streaming content or Internet apps?

Because it’s going to happen, and whichever is the first to act will only begin the next trend in video games and possibly home entertainment as we know it.

Messages to Microsoft’s PR firm Waggener Edstrom were not returned by press time. Sony Computer Entertainment US R&D could not be reached for comment. And Nintendo Communications PR, well, didn’t answer our phone call.

Links of interest
Netflix: http://www.netflix.com/Default?loms=abcd&mqso=80001347
Hulu Plus: http://www.hulu.com/plus
Gamefly: http://www.gamefly.com/Features/HowItWorks/
Blockbuster: https://www.blockbuster.com/signup/m/plan

UPDATE: Amazon has announced that its Amazon Prime membership (a little over $3/month for free 2-day shipping) will now include a library of TV shows to stream to your TV.

Life without cable TV

I’ve been without cable TV service since April of 2010. No DirecTV, No Dish, No Comcast, No nothing.

But I’m watching more television shows and movies than ever before. With Netflix and Hulu Plus.

With Netflix, $8.99 per month, I’m watching TV shows like The Office, Californication, Lie to Me, 30 Rock, Weeds, American Pickers, Family Guy and others. From the first episode of the season to the last. On my schedule.

I also just picked up a subscription to Hulu Plus, an additional $7.99 per month.

Netflix offers a much larger library and has nearly every title that Hulu Plus carries, but Hulu Plus lets me watch current seasons of shows like Glee, Saturday Night Live, The Soup, The Office, 30 Rock, House, Family Guy and Lie to Me. Again, these are just the shows I’m watching.

With Netflix and Hulu Plus I’m watching more shows and movies than ever before. It’s more productive TV viewing. Instead of surfing channels, I pick exactly what I want to watch on my schedule.

All of this makes me wonder. What is “TV”? Is it a service? Or is it the product, the show, the movie or even the network?

Is today’s “TV” the distribution vehicle or the product delivered?

I believe TV should be viewed as the product. But right now we’re paying for the distribution vehicle: the provider. Like Comcast, DirecTV, Dish, Windstream, etc.

There’s a shift occurring. TV is changing from the provider to the product.

The DirecTV vs. Dish battle has increased in intensity within the last few years. In the next five to 10 years it will become far less important which vehicle we use to get our content.  Because these new services are taking advantage of what consumers already have: HD TVs, Internet-connected sets and high-speed wireless internet.

And new services and boxes are popping up every week. Hulu Plus, Google TV, Boxee Box, Orb TV and more. And the pricing is starting as low as $7.99 per month. That’s a win for consumers.

What we’re witnessing is not the end of TV but its future. And I’m happy to be an early adopter.

Finally a reason to be on Foursquare

While checking into Foursquare this week, I spotted something new: “Special.” I rubbed my eyes. Could this be?

So I clicked it and read the offer:

Welcome to Pizza Hut. The Mayor of this Pizza Hut receives one free single order of breadsticks per day with the purchase of a large pizza! (For Dine-in and Carry-out orders placed at the restaurant only)

A business taking advantage of Foursquare! Awesome. [I did realize there were businesses using this feature of Foursquare, but this was the first I spotted on my own and near my hometown.]

A user becomes “Mayor” if he or she checks in more frequently at a location than other users.

I was not Mayor of Pizza Hut at the time. And I was sitting at a Cafe in Barnes & Noble. So my excitement kind of ended there. But I did check to see what other businesses were offering specials for checking in, or becoming mayor. I found quite a few in and around my town, State College, Pa.

To make Foursquare profitable for your business, here’s the link: http://foursquare.com/businesses/

Foursquare’s message to businesses: As a business owner, you can use foursquare to engage your increasingly mobile customers with foursquare “Specials,” which are discounts and prizes you can offer your loyal customers when they check in on foursquare at your venue. Don’t forget to show extra love to your venue’s Mayor! Additionally, if you offer foursquare Specials to your customers, you will be able to track how your venue is performing over time thanks to our robust set of venue analytics — for free!

I joined Foursquare about six months ago to learn more about the network and to uncover how it can be used in the world of advertising. I’ve seen more and more of my colleagues and associates join and check in around town. And now — with actual incentives to check in, to become Mayor or earn badges — Foursquare users should start to pile up in State College.

Just in time, too. With Facebook recently introducing its Places feature, there’s about to be a lot more competition in the ring.

Source: Foursquare.com

Emerging Media, Advertising & Tech (formerly Eric's Ad Blog)

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