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Delivery of HDNet Content to HTPCs  

post #1 of 191
Thread Starter 
We already deliver some of our content on DVHS. We would like to make the same content and much more available to the hard drives of HTPC owners.

The question is how to get it there. How to make it easy and affordable for the HTPC user , and how to make money for HDNet.

We also would love to find a way to make this a profitable endeavor for CEDIA members and HW OEMs as well. If we can find partners who make this part of their high end installs or deliverables, thats a win win for us as well

We would only use TS formats at this time. We are not going to consider ro deal with any of the alternative compression schemes. (We arent ready to take sides in that battle, and when we do, it will be for a codec that exceeds Mpeg2/ATSC quality, not one that matches it.)

So,
Do you want content for your HTPCs
How do you want to receive it.
How do you want to pay for it ?

all suggestions are welcome.

thx
m
post #2 of 191
Yippie!!:D Let me be the first to say that this is very exciting news.

Quote:
Originally posted by mcuban
We already deliver some of our content on DVHS. We would like to make the same content and much more available to the hard drives of HTPC owners.

The question is how to get it there. How to make it easy and affordable for the HTPC user , and how to make money for HDNet.

We also would love to find a way to make this a profitable endeavor for CEDIA members and HW OEMs as well. If we can find partners who make this part of their high end installs or deliverables, thats a win win for us as well

We would only use TS formats at this time. We are not going to consider ro deal with any of the alternative compression schemes. (We arent ready to take sides in that battle, and when we do, it will be for a codec that exceeds Mpeg2/ATSC quality, not one that matches it.)

So,
Do you want content for your HTPCs
Heck yah!!

Quote:
How do you want to receive it.
Well there are a number of ways, one being the Physical media like DVDs, but that's not necessarily practical due to the large size of the content.

There's the internet download option, but download 6-12 GB of data is not really easy even with a broadband connection.

Both are doable, but there's one more option, but politics may get in the way:

Satillite. Yup, if we could stick a DVB-type card in the PC and use some sort of authentication to allow reception/decryption (I believe the use CAM cards in europe). I think this sort of solution would get you a lot of users, and far more if you could convince D* or Voom to sign on so that we could record/view D*/Voom content w/o a STB.

Quote:
How do you want to pay for it ?
I guess that depends on the delivery method. With physical media setup, per disk like DVDs would make the most sense to me. With a download system, probably both a per download and a subscription service would be desireable. For Satillite, I think subscription would make the most sense.

Quote:
all suggestions are welcome.

thx
m
Glad to see the big guys taking an interest in HTPC as a distribution/viewing solution. I'm sure you'll get a lot of good comments here:)
post #3 of 191
Thread Starter 
cost would be huge, and we would have to program what was coming when... and if you missed it, we would have to re transmit.....

so lets strike satellite, but it was a great starting point

m
post #4 of 191
> cant do DVB ASI
> cost would be huge, and we would have to program what was coming
> when... and if you missed it, we would have to re transmit.....

Uh, that's the whole point of the HTPC. We would "tune" to your "station" and "receive" the desired program at the time you "broadcast" it. When we want to view it is at our leisure (i.e. whenever we want to, we play it back from our "hard disk" - something you stated you wanted to enable).

So I simply don't get the comment.

> so lets strike satellite, but it was a great starting point

Aren't you there already? Seems to me HDNet is getting to every video store I enter these days. The issue is with copy protection, I imagine.

So what is it, mark, do you want to see your programming making it to our "hard drives" or do you just want to enable our viewing the content on the HTPC? Personally, the reason for the latter is because I have the former (i.e. I have SD & HD content PVR'd to my HTPC's Hard Disk so that I can view it later and at my own pace).

The suggestion posed by stranger89 is the one on a lot of people's minds. We want to know why the type of system used in Europe for DVB can't be done here with your content. In Europe, folks can buy a PCI card which exposes a "SmartCard" slot. They get the SmartCard from a content owner and are allowed to receive/decode the programming. The form of payment can vary (e.g. PPV or Subscription), but the gist is that the SmartCard is allowed in the HTPCs in Europe for such content. But not here in the USA.

So what do you think - can you offer a SmartCard-based access control for the content you already deliver via sattelite? You'd break some ground for us perhaps encouraging HBO, etc... to follow...
post #5 of 191
Well I was thinking more like a linear broadcast (as opposed to VOD) like you currently do w/ HDnet, but to allow recording it on an HTPC. Which is currently not really possible.

But hey, I had to ask:)

Perhaps I'm being uncreative today, but the options seem to be:
  • Linear broadcast - basically what you do now, the missing part is the ability to record it on a PC. This would require new hardware, or at the very least a change in philosophy of the Cable/sat providers.
  • VOD - this would be very impractical over Sat as you mentioned, it would be more possible with Cable, this would require new hardware. But Internet download would seem to be the easiest to impliment (no new hardware), but downloads would take a long time. I figure I've got what's average for fast broadband internet, 3Mbps download, off good servers (eg Microsoft) I get 300KBytes/sec, that would work out to about 8 hours minimum to download an hour. Given good servers that can support the bandwidth, I could see this being viable, although with movies taking a day to download it would be a niche market I think.
  • Physical distribution - You stated you already do that with DVHS, if you stick with ATSC bitrates, you could fit a hour on 1 DVD probably, it wouldn't be bad. But if this method were chosen I'd think it would be essential to let us store the content on our HDDs so we could play it without interuption if it spanned multiple disks.

Personally the idea of just being able to record HDnet off Satillite/cable is the most appealing to me, but I understand that that would be a major undertaking. Other than that, internet download would probably be my second choice.

Hey, thanks again for the interest in this area, it's nice to know not everybody is out to keep the PC out of media distribution/playback:)

Chad
post #6 of 191
Hi Mr. Cuban:
I think the most cost effective and broadest compatibilty way to do it would be to simply distribute TS files (in 650MB or 1 GB segments) on dual layer DVDs, which can hold a little more than 1 hour of standard broadcast HD. As an HDnet subscriber, I know most of your compelling programming is of the 1 hour variety so this would work well, and longer programs could be spread over 2 (or more) discs. These files would be copied from the DVD to the users hard drive which would be played back with their favorite HDTV application. Commerical distribution via an online store at the HDnet website would be an effective start up method of sales.
...and a few downloadable preview clips would be nice too!
BTW, I'll give you Kwame Brown, Jarred Jefferies and Jarvis Hayes for Dirk....deal?
:D
post #7 of 191
I vote for DVD disks. While the size limitation maybe an issue intially, technology will soon eliminate the need for mutliple disks.

As for distribution, it should be purchased either per disk or on a subscription service model where the orders can be placed on-line. I believe that concert/music series would be extremely popular in addition to the variety of movies listed at the hd.net site.

I'm also sure that during the production of some hdnet content, there must be a good collection of outtakes and behind the scenes shots that would be of interest, as well as getting exclusive interviews with people in the news, or maybe even indie productions and film contests.

Maybe a sampler disk could be added to promote the service that can be bundled with sales of HDTV hardware/software. ;)
post #8 of 191
Thread Starter 
is that you have no answer to the new subscriber whose favorite show was broadcast yesterday, and whose repeat broadcast would get me flamed by everyone for taking up their bandwidth and drive space with repeats rather than new programming.....<insert favorite program
>

what about removable or external hard drives ?
\\
post #9 of 191
"what about removable or external hard drives ?"

Not cost effective nor as easy as DVD discs.
Example.....I'd pay $25.00 online to order the Blue Oyster Cult concert in HD from your HDnet online store... no brainer. I get my 2 discs in the mail and copy the TS files onto my hard drive for playback (ANY TIME I WANTED TO!!!) with my current MyHD_MDP-120 tuner card. Done deal and I'm a happy consumer.
Windows Media Video HD should be so simple. :eek:
post #10 of 191
Obviously, the bandwidth on broadband pipes is the current limiting factor for Internet-based distribution of content (especially HD content). In the medium term, this makes it difficult to build your business (but not impossible ;). You might consider making trailers of interesting shows available for download for use in HTPCs.

I generally have to agree with the other posts - DVD is the only real format that has the ability to send lots of content _and_ has the market penetration to be useful.

However, instead of merely selling individual DVDs, you might be able to capitalize on your brand equity by launching a subscription service. For example, let's say you have a show that has 20 episodes in a season. You could deliver this content over DVD in the mail to subscribers on a regular basis (i.e. during the broadcast season). Later, you can make this available as a package through the normal DVD retail channels. As mentioned previously, you might include additional behind-the-scenes content on the subscription plan not available in the end-of-season package.

People might pay for such a service because:

1. They get content before other people
2. They don't get your channel, for whatever reason, but they want to see the content
3. The extra content is only available through the subscription.

I'd recommend a strategy of building a premium brand for which people are willing to pay. You are already known for changing business models, so you'll be able to capture the early adopters if you try something new.

Conor
(do you have openings?)
post #11 of 191
DVD seems to me to be the way to go.

Good shelf life. Any proper HTPC can read it. I would recommend allowing copying to hard drive for ease of use. As Karnis said, DVD would be way cheaper than hard drive.

I certianly don't want to worry about when a particular broadcast is scheduled.

Are there copy protection issues that HDNet is concerned with?

Mark
post #12 of 191
The thought crossed my mind, but I nixed it since I doubt hdnet would want to keep hard drive inventory. And depending on the capacities available, you would almost have to put multiple titles to make it worthwhile which would cost you in labor to get this accomplished. Some of the content could also be deemed worthy of storage, while others maybe occasional viewing material better left on external storage medium.
post #13 of 191
Conroy's #2 applies to me as I have Voom and don't have hdnet.

The downloads are great for trailers on the content for sale as I don't think reading the preview descriptions are as good as a good clip.
post #14 of 191
I'd call you Mark, but you're a billionare and I'm just a forum mod. :) I really wish you'd rethink a couple of things.

1) HD-DVD, whatever laser you want to use. I know you want to stick to .ts files, but providing a reason for more push into HD DVDs can only benefit everyone. Honestly, make some Bikini Destinations available and watch them get snapped up.

2) Let Voom carry your channel. It's depressing to get an email response from your feedback email address saying how you have no interest in partnering with Voom. Love them or hate them, they are the undisputed kings of HD right now. Call me selfish but we'd love to have HDNet added to the lineup.

3) I know you said some of your stuff was on DVHS, but for the life of me I can't remember seeing any. Perhaps some investment in promoting DVHS and it's values? You did save all that money not getting Shaq ;)

4) If you are really interested on getting it to HTPCs, the only way besides unprotected DVHS right now is DVDs or downloads. I don't think downloads are as out of the question as some others do. With a subscription service and a key to prevent distribution, I really think downloads work. I download a whole lot now... for one reason or another. I can get a sustained 3-4Mb/sec rate, and 1 hour of HD isn't going to take terribly long. DvDs are too crackable.
post #15 of 191
Re: linear

Quote:
Originally posted by mcuban
is that you have no answer to the new subscriber whose favorite show was broadcast yesterday, and whose repeat broadcast would get me flamed by everyone for taking up their bandwidth and drive space with repeats rather than new programming.....<insert favorite program
>
Re: missing a show - don't you ever show re-runs on HD Net?
Re: bandwidth/storage waste - I'm not suggesting we have to record everything, I'm suggesting allowing us to record content we want to see when it airs.

There are a number of advantages to Linear in my mind.
  1. More flexibility for the consumer - consumer has equal access to everything and can pick and choose what to watch, what to keep, what to ignore. I think more people would watch more content if they don't have to purchase it specifically. For example:

    My knowledge of HDnet programming (admittedly very limited as I don't get HD net now) leads me to believe that there is a great deal of programming available on HD net that I would like to view once, for example sports, nature, Discover channel type stuff. There is less content that I would actually want to keep, and view multiple times (movies, concerts). There is a lot of stuff I watch, and enjoy, on various linear cable channels that I would never consider buying as a DVD.
  2. There would be no (or very little) new technology for you to impliment on your end. Hardware upgrades could be limited to our HTPCs (DVB cards).
  3. It could serve as a paradigm shift in the DBS industry, with a major player backing PC recieving/recording of satillite signals it may convice others to accept the technology instead of running in terror as they do now.
  4. There could be no Software development for you to do. You could work with current media center/PVR developers (MS MCE, BeyondTV, SageTV) to support said cards.

This makes sense to me since it leverages currently available technology to a great extent.

Quote:
what about removable or external hard drives ?
\\
I agree that removeable HDDs just aren't practical, or desireable. They are very expensive/GB compared to optical media, plus at optimal size cost wise (around 100GB now), they would have to contain a great deal of content (many hours) to be fully utilized.

You are on the forefront of this technology, and if it's well accpeted it could well set the course for the entire HD distribution market.

I'd like to thank you again Mr. Cuban for taking the time to listen to our opinions, nomatter what you decide to do, it will almost certainly be better by considering the advice of the fine folks of this forum.
post #16 of 191
Success is in ease of receiving and paying.

Today's HD PVR's meet the needs of most where you want to timeshift or view content a couple of times before deleting. Taking that a step further, by having a limited playback period with an option to transfer to an external drive or PC for a fee may prove successful.

I can't see much demand for online ordering of TS streams to be shipped on any media. Offering rental / sales in video stores may be more successful.

If Apple offered physical CD's for sale it would not have had near the success that iTunes ease of instant ordering has generated. How about HD-Tunes where single song HD videos are sold online?
post #17 of 191
I think there is much untapped potential in being able to purchase physical product at point of sale.

If I could walk up to a kiosk at Blockduster and pick up a copy of TS files that had been previously transmitted by satellite to their gazillion locations, I'd do it in a heartbeat. They handle the distribution and everybody shares the proceeds--- and I'm a happy HD customer.

P.S. - I think they already have sat downfeeds.
post #18 of 191
I think removable hard drives would be great. Much more convenient to me than discs. Perhaps some hardware vendor would want to jump onboard too. Maybe a subscription service where you could ship the drive back when you're done and have it filled with more goods?
post #19 of 191
Quote:
Originally posted by ez2logon
P.S. - I think they already have sat downfeeds.
Yes, but there's no way to record them.
post #20 of 191
Thread Starter 
I will give you where we are leaning and some of the logic

1. TS and not MP4/WMV/DIVX
Unless there is a huge economic incentive from a vendor, we want to make sure we are compatible with everyone as of now. The only format that is compatible with all the HD tuner cards and the Graphics Cards that support HD playback, that we can determine is MPG2 in TS format.

If a card can record OTA, it can read it, and that is how we want it.

2. HD DVD/ Blu Ray
I wont let Mpeg2/OTA equivalent quality be the best HD is going to get. That is the way the future of HD is being positioned right now by everyone else. They want MPG4/WMV to fit more channels into the same space. We want to use the space to provide an insanely better picture quality

When we deviate from .TS, it will be for a higher picture quality format, not to squeeze more on a disk

We are in discussions with multiple vendors right now for codecs that will support HDCam/D5 equivalency, with higher quality in future years. We want to use the bandwidth not to squeeze in more minutes, but more quality.

TV picture quality is going to get better and better, and want to be the vendor with the content that takes full advantage of the TVs ability.

If you think DVHS is better than what you get on TV now, wait till we offer content in HDCam or D5 format, and in future years as cameras get better, and the compression the cameras use get better, so will the originals we use.

Although this doesnt apply to HTPC, we are talking to Sony about shipping content on HDCam tapes. The pro playback devices right now are 10k and will fall in price. The only holdup is the cost of the tapes. We are working on this as we speak.

Which leads to
3. Hard Disk Storage
Hard Drives are less than $1 per GB and falling fast. Removable storage is not much more. I dont know if anyone has seen the new HP Media Center PC, but it has built in removable 160gb drives. Every media PC has FireWire, new ones have USB2.0 and both are being enhanced as we speak


We can fill up one of those with multiple show eps or movies and ship them and users can keep as is, copy to their hard drives as storage expands, or just erase them and reuse the drvies when they are finished viewing.

MOre likely is the netflix/best buy/walmart rental approach.

You go online , put up a credit card , and pick from a selection of movies/shows. We put them on the hard drivem ship them to you. Whe nyou are done, just like with the DVDs, you put them in the reshipper and send them back. Shipping costs a little more. If you dont return the drive, we obviously ding you for the cost of the drive.

You get the drive with the shows, youi can copy on to your own hard drive, play from the drive you get, or copy to your own DVD/BluRay/whatever comes along.

So thats where we are leaning, but the point of all this was to capture any new ideas as alternatives.

And, BTW, watch for us to issue our content in Standard Def, ONLY, and I repeat ONLY on the little USB 2.0 keychain drives. Goal is to allow people to take them on trips , plug onto their laptops and watch movies. A 19.95 drive that can support a compressed DVD quality movie is around the corner.
post #21 of 191
Quote:
Originally posted by jflatt
I think removable hard drives would be great. Much more convenient to me than discs. Perhaps some hardware vendor would want to jump onboard too. Maybe a subscription service where you could ship the drive back when you're done and have it filled with more goods?
How would that work. They'd either have to ship the drive to you, and then what, they ship a drive each time you buy something? That would make it prohibitively expensive. Or if you ship it back, HDDs aren't meant to take that much abuse, and still expensive.

About the only way I'd see HDDs being doable is if there were kiosks, or something, where you take your drive and get stuff loaded onto it. However that, I think, would limit the market greatly, it would probably be limited to large-ish cities with enough market to justify the store buying the presumably very expensive kiosks, which would have to hold many TB of storage to make it feasible so you could just walk in an pick anything, without having to schedule something like "This week XXX, YYY, and ZZZ will be available at our Kiosks."

If you get into DVD distribution, you're essentially having the same thing as the current WMV-HD, it would be a small niche market for HTPC maniacs (I mean that in a good way). I know I haven't bought one of those since other than Coral Reef Adventure. The stuff out on WMV-HD and much of whats on HDnet right now is not the kind of stuff I want to keep in my collection, it's cool to watch, but I wouldn't go out and buy them often probably.

Furthermore, DVD or HDD, even internet download, would require HDnet to enter a new distribution method. With a PC card that could record the current HDnet broadcast, HDnet would have to do nothing more than push the idea through. There would be an initial investment in PC card development perhaps, but much of the infrastructure is there (DVB cards, CAM/smartcards, card reader, the distribution channel - cable/sat).
post #22 of 191
I think there are 3 ways this could be done. 1) Perhaps a netflix type of DVD rental system with a monthly charge as far as how many discs you have out at a time. Have like a 3, 5, and 7 at-a-time rental options for $20, $30, or $40 a month or whatever you figure is profitable for you and a fair value for the public. 2) This has been mentioned...A hard drive rental subscription service but this would require more effort to put the content on the hard drives for people unless you had certain content already predetermined on the hard drives. 3) Downloadable content..my least favorite cause my connection speed is horrible at the moment.

Mike
post #23 of 191
I know this is my first post
but the system of DVB cards seems to work so well in Europe
It has always been beyond me why in the United States we would not adopt this
I agree with Stanger89
DVB cards would be the best way in my opinion to get the most people to adopt HDTV into the HTPC scene

I still do not understand why the strong support for Downloadable media with current speeds of broadband

DVDs and harddrives would be a better alternative to downloads of course
but can harddrives handle the wear and tear?

and speciality DVDs would be harder to push than just having the media recorded on your computer via a DVB card

By the way
Go Mavericks


Robert
post #24 of 191
Quote:
I can't see much demand for online ordering of TS streams to be shipped on any media. Offering rental / sales in video stores may be more successful
I actually see the opposite. I find that many HDTV owners are becoming more savvy out of necessity and suspect that bulk of DVHS sales are either bought on or shopped based on information found on the internet. While placing loctions in rental stores could be feasible in the future, presently I believe it will be the last place where the demographics of the consumers would want the product. I would think selling media in retail stores like Tower Records, Best Buy, et. al would be more successful compared to the rental model. There are extremely limited number of consumers that can actually watch pre-recorded TS files on their PCs, much less know how to do so.

mcuban,

If your target is HTPCs (of course assuming you will aspire to a bigger audience in the future but for now, you've set your sights here to kick start the idea), hard disk storage while preferrable maybe too limiting. I suspect most people wouldn't mind paying to "own" the content permanent media rather than having to offload or having to erase or burn and otherwise juggling their purchase, but maybe it's just my own disposition. I dislike functions that consume too much of my time. I don't like the idea of being hostage to my storage space which may cause me to limit my purchase to what fits on the hard disk. I would start a hard disk collection to store the good stuff permanently (be it purchased from hdnet or a server dedicated to functioning as a library), but still would like to have the option of a "hardcopy" physical back-up.

Again, I'm a bit lazy and don't want to have to burn copies of downloads. I rather choose titles and see it show up in a few days on my doorstep, at which point I don't have to decide how to treat that purchase (i.e. copy, upload, etc.) except to decide when to view it. Of course, downloading is always an option, but I suspect that at the file sizes, you'll have to invest in alot of hardware.

Delighted that you take the stance for picutre quality over easy storage. Many members here would purchase the content for consistant and reliable "wow" factor.
post #25 of 191
Quote:
I agree with Stanger89
DVB cards would be the best way in my opinion to get the most people to adopt HDTV into the HTPC scene
I wonder how practical this is for a new venture, both for distribution and consumption which would require all new everything.
post #26 of 191
Seems to me that WMV-HD codec and standard DVD's as they are being done today is the way to do this.
720P and 1080P formats that you could order on a DVD.

Terry
post #27 of 191
Hard drive media is problematic but has potential. A rugged, compact 1.8" Firewire-enabled device with a 10GB storage capacity might have promise. But, distributors would have to deal with still-expensive inventory, and from a profitability perspective there would be significant support costs and the greater risk that comes with shipping a mechanical device back and forth.

DVD media makes the most sense. Partner with a Netflix clone with an existing distribution network (a disk is a disk), monthly subscription model, and keep it cost-effective for you so that it can be cost-competitive with something like Netflix, and you might win customers like me---who are habitual video renters but not necessarily HD content subscribers.

Another less glamorous but equally viable option is to do what Microsoft is attempting to with WMVHD. Distribute content for purchase on DVD, and even make it available at my local Blockbuster like some WMVHD titles are beginning to appear.
post #28 of 191
Mark, you do know that there is a SatHD to PC (usb) recording solution just around the corner? And people are recording CableHD to PC (firewire) right now! If so, then do you anticipate that CP could become an issue? If CP is not going to be a factor then where are you going with this?

Most HTPC users won't see much benefit in an alternative delivery of HDNet if they can use their very own recording solution. With so much HD content and so little time to watch, paying for another source for the material might only be effective for very few titles.

This idea might fly for the audience who can't get HDNet from their provider. As far as delivery, I'd have to vote for the dvd solution because it seems the easiest for the masses.

Hammer
post #29 of 191
hammerdwn,

What STB comes with USB outputs?
post #30 of 191
Quote:
Originally posted by Kei Clark
hammerdwn,

What STB comes with USB outputs?
A R5000-HD modified STB. :D
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