The clash of the TV Titans

* First, read yesterday’s (1/27/05) front page WSJ article on the struggle between comcast and the tv networks/producers to deliver on-demand versions of popular programs. Comcast wants to screw the networks/producers, the content owners want to protect their revenue streams, and so users are left with nothing — or more exactly, users are pushed towards unfettered version of shows that leak out thru bittorrent or other means
* The networks are in an untenable position — there is just no way to keep their content contained — even if they have the fanciest drm in the world, at some point the tv signal gets rendered onto an rgb/composite/s-video feed so you can see it — take look at rgb.com, you can pick up a box today that can capture 1600×1200, 25 frames per second, off a composite or rbg feed. I.E. there is no way to keep good digital copies from surfacing on the web.
* Meanwhile, Tivo is under increasing pressure — and it looks like consumers will be satisfied with DVRs from their tv provider, rather than buy a Tivo. Too bad because the Tivo experience is way superior to other DVRs — but the egos at Tivo and at the cable/satellite companies are destroying the Tivo business.
* And now Apple is crowding into the picture with the stylish Mac mini — pointer to Cringely, Steve Makofsky on why people like the mini (and wondering why they don’t like the PC in he same way), reviews of the Mac Mini. But there is no way to get a cable or satellite digital signal into a Mac Mini today — the video providers are dead set against that happening as it creates another way for digital copies to leak onto the net — so users lose out. Can Steve Jobs pull a rabbit out of his hat and solve this?
* And of course Microsoft continues to grind away with the Media Center PC. And I think all these front end boxes need a great back end media store in the home — something like this maybe?

Where will we all end up? Rich has some good thoughts about the refactoring of the TV experience — and some criticisms of everyone trying to create EPGs. In the short term, Steve Makofsky points out that we are headed for greater complexity and confusion as we have to learn about codecs and other software components.

Who is going to be the champion of the user, the friend of the user?