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Amazon's Plan To Storm the Cable Industry's Castle 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the building-the-next-espn dept.
Randy Davis sends analysis of Amazon's acquisition of Twitch.tv, a move that indicates higher ambitions than simply another avenue for putting products in front of consumers. The Daily Herald think this is a sign Amazon is bulking up for a fight with cable companies, strengthening is bargaining position for getting (and maintaining) access to subscribers. "There are very few places in the U.S. where these four giant carriers allow independent networks carrying traffic from the data centers run by Amazon (and future Twitch.tv successors) to put that data on the carriers' controlled networks."

A related article at the NY Times argues Amazon is "betting on content," not wanting to fall behind the surge of new media productions from companies like Netflix. "There is a huge land grab for nontraditional models of programming. DreamWorks Animation bought AwesomenessTV, a popular YouTube channel, last year, and in March, Disney snatched up Maker Studios, a video supplier for YouTube, while Peter Chernin, formerly president of News Corporation, has invested in Crunchyroll, a streaming hub of anime. All of these deals are about content, but they are also a hedge, a way of exploring other production protocols that don’t involve prominent stars, agents and expensive producers." A different piece at The Motley Fool takes the acquisition as confirmation Amazon is developing its own ad network.
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Amazon's Plan To Storm the Cable Industry's Castle

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  • Subscribers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HalAtWork (926717) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @08:46AM (#47816097)
    Sorry, you lost me at "subscribers". I am not going to subscribe to anything full of ads, or that may be full of ads in the future. I'm definitely not going to subscribe to receive user generated content either. This ex-battered cable wife is not making the same mistake.
    • Re:Subscribers? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @08:53AM (#47816139) Homepage Journal

      And yet plenty of people are on huluPlus already.

      • Are they really though? By every indication I've heard, Hulu's viewership has been steadily dropping for a few years now (from 24M monthly unique viewers to 19M to 12M between mid-2010 and mid-2012, which prompted the media companies owning Hulu to try and sell it just last year. And that's Hulu total viewership, not just for Hulu Plus. And those numbers seem to make sense to me, given that the commercials have been becoming more intrusive and frequent, while the blackout periods before episodes become avai

        • Re:Subscribers? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by FictionPimp (712802) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:05AM (#47816781) Homepage

          Yep, I am not going to pay for the right to watch ads.

          Either it's 'free' and I watch ads, or I pay for it and get no ads.

          Also, I get to pick the device.

          • I'm a little more of a hardliner than that.

            I say no ads at all. I'll gladly pay you for your product if I like it(and they fucking let me), but I won't suffer manipulation.

          • Yep, I am not going to pay for the right to watch ads.

            Either it's 'free' and I watch ads, or I pay for it and get no ads.

            Precisely. As the saying goes, if the service is free, you're the product. I'll tolerate that for some things, but if I'm paying for a service, I expect to be treated with the dignity and respect associated with being the customer. Anymore, I've been seeking out for-pay alternatives to free services (e.g. Feedbin for RSS after Google Reader was cancelled, Fastmail for e-mail after leaving Gmail, etc.). If someone set up a for-pay alternative to Hulu that didn't show ads, I'd likely sign up for it.

            • To be topical: Amazon, perhaps? You have prime for old things on a subscription, and instant for newer things on a per episode basis.

              • That's actually a good suggestion, but something I just now realize I forgot to state was that I was thinking of a subscription, not a per-episode service. I have iTunes and Amazon Instant, but I've never been keen on having to buy stuff that I only ever plan to watch once (and in many cases it's stuff that I'm only marginally interested in and keep on a second screen while surfing on the first screen). I'd consider renting, but it's rare that TV shows offer rentals (especially while the show is still ongoi

              • by Darinbob (1142669)

                Prime needs to change. It's a yearly subscription, and a hefty one too, so it's a major hindrance for people just to try out Amazon. If after a few weeks they think it's not worth the cost then they don't get refunded for the remaining unused time (and no, I won't use that much free shipping on Amazon in a lifetime).

              • by jtmach (958490)
                They need to quick dicking around and make a mobile app for it (and support ChromeCast too, while they're at it). I have Prime, but I never use it for video because it's not convenient. Also, for that reason, I would never suggest it to someone else if they were looking for a place to watch videos. It's nice for 2 day shipping though.
        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          I am ready to subscribe, as soon as the shows I want show up there. But they're late. Two weeks and still no new doctor who. The whole point of hulu plus was to be seeing shows very soon after original air time. I've already got netflix if I wanted to wait until the season was over. I don't mind the ads that much because what it replaces was chock full of ads too (well, I've never had hulu plus so can't be sure how obnoxious they are).

          What these services are missing is 'service'. They're very short on

    • Yet you presumably subscribe to home Internet access to view UGC and sites with ads. And people subscribe to VOD services such as Netflix to view 90 minute toy ads such as The Wizard.
      • Re:Home Internet (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @09:54AM (#47816669)

        And people subscribe to VOD services such as Netflix to view 90 minute toy ads such as The Wizard.

        That's specious and you know it. Nobody has to watch The Wizard, the vast majority of Netflix's content doesn't have product placement, and Netflix can't do anything about it anyway (except maybe exclude the show entirely).

        Shows on Netflix don't have added, separate ads, and that's the important thing.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          the vast majority of Netflix's content doesn't have product placement

          I doubt that actually - considering movies and TV have steadily increased their product placement ads over the past decade. I'd say Netflix's content has plenty of product placement - it's just not under Netflix's control because it was there before Netflix even got the content.

          Netflix however, doesn't add their own ads to content, other than a small pre-roll video in front of their exclusive series.

          Anyhow, I'm finding a lot of content is

          • movies and TV have steadily increased their product placement ads over the past decade. I'd say Netflix's content has plenty of product placement - it's just not under Netflix's control because it was there before Netflix even got the content.

            Case in point: the Transformers films and DC/Marvel superhero films exist to sell toys [tfwiki.net]. As Yogurt pointed out in Spaceballs, it's all about the merchandising.

      • by HalAtWork (926717)
        I subscribe to access the internet, whether or not people put invasive ads/on their sites have nothing to do with it, but there are no "packages" I have to choose and I can do what I want with my bandwidth, so I choose to visit sites that respect me as a user. I do support sites I like by allowing ads, even Slashdot which has offered me the choice of disabling ads.
        • but there are no "packages" I have to choose and I can do what I want with my bandwidth

          If you want to accept incoming connections, you may need the "dedicated IP address" package. IPv4 address exhaustion has forced some ISPs to put customers on reserved nonroutable addresses (usually 100.64/10 or 10/8) behind carrier-grade network address translation [wikipedia.org] (CGNAT) unless they pay extra for a static IP. Even in areas not quite as IP-poor, you may still need the "business class" package so that your ISP doesn't kickban you for running a server on a residential line.

          And if you don't buy the "local

    • But. But. The Channels! The Choices!

      Instead of 500 channels of repetitive, poorly contrived and produced content there will be thousands!

      Isn't that what you expected for the 21st Century?

    • You might not, but Amazon already has a huge number of subscribers. They call it Amazon prime.
  • The US data caps FORCED on the consumer by the cable companies will have the users thinking twice. Do I use in the in-house streaming provided by Comcrap that will cost me no data or do I go outside source for content that will burn up my data usage at the end will either get me a much bigger bill or the Cable companies will drop me for high usage.

    • So how should smaller producers of shows go about negotiating with Comcast to get their shows added to cap-free in-house streaming?

      Spell check changed Comcast to Combat. Telling?

      • It would be nice if they didn't Data Caps on service, but since we are dealing with massive companies, I just don't see the Data caps going away. Unless they get regulated again to put them in check. Producers will most like have to deal with Comcast Wholesale network services group to negotiate a contract. Something like Nexflix has done to prevent the throttling.

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @09:11AM (#47816253)

    It doesn't matter how much content amazon has, nor how many datacenters they have. Amazon, Apple, Google...etc are all hostages to the last mile providers. Their business models depend on that last mile for delivery of their product.

    In the end, the UPS/FedEx model will probably prevail where content providers will pay a delivery company for delivery of their product.

    Google seems to be the only company with the foresight to start building their own last mile network. Unfortunately, at the rate they are going my great great grandkids might have Google Fiber available in their area.

    • by k6mfw (1182893)
      The last mile... yes that's what holds me back. I hear all this great stuff about Netflix, youtube vids, Hulu, etc. but at times may be fast but spotty. I was talking with someone describing how they watch fantastic movies, shows, etc. on their highspeed internet. I didn't get the details but way she described it is something that can impress most techies (I think her and her husband are IT specialists so they know how to game the system). Generally I don't pay much attention to all this whizbang high speed
      • Oh please. DSL handles movies just fine. I watch them on Amazon, Hulu and wherever I want and have no real problems. I also download gigs of game updates rapidly. There's no high-tech nothing about it.

        • by Shadow99_1 (86250)

          While DSL can be fine, all to often the big names in DSL in the US offer service like 1.5 mb down and .5 or .6 mb up and those can be near useless with many modern sites. Worse is that is the highest speeds the offer, most users will see somewhat less. I have Time Warner cable and get 20 mb/1 mb, but my neighbors who use Verizon use 1.5 mb/0.6 mb connections and the comparison is just a joke. More ironic is that Verizon charges just $5 less for that than I pay...

    • You beat me to it. Since most of the cable companies are also ISPs, they have full motive to throttle the connections of any threatening content providers into oblivion. After all, every minute spent watching content from another provider is a minute not consuming the cable company's channels or their ad-laden video-on-demand. And since we have no net neutrality laws, there is no legal reason for them not to throttle competing content providers. With the current situation, if you want to be a major cont
    • by fredan (54788)

      It's only the ISP who can do this and build such system for caching content.

      The concept of TOECDN, The Open Edge Content Delivery Network, previously known as The Last Mile Cache, is to cache content so close to the consumer as possible. TOECDN is the only solution to allow customers to have their own http-cache servers.

      Instead of having X different cache solutions for the ISP to host and maintain, TOECDN combines this to ONE unified system/solution for all static content served over HTTP.

      And anyone is fre

    • by furby076 (1461805)
      I agree with the last mile comment. Google, however, is not going to build out more than a few markets. For them this is an experiment, to show that prices can be cheaper and the product can be of better quality - as far as they can demonstrate in a few tiny markets. Try and build a national infrastructure - with data centers sending out that much content, with cables being lined through every city/town/neighborhood - this is an astronomical and mind-blowing logistics nightmare. The barrier to entry into
    • It doesn't matter how much content amazon has, nor how many datacenters they have. Amazon, Apple, Google...etc are all hostages to the last mile providers. Their business models depend on that last mile for delivery of their product.

      In the end, the UPS/FedEx model will probably prevail where content providers will pay a delivery company for delivery of their product.

      Google seems to be the only company with the foresight to start building their own last mile network. Unfortunately, at the rate they are going my great great grandkids might have Google Fiber available in their area.

      There are ISPs for sale, all over this country, every day of the year. Amazon could buy them up cheap if they wanted to. Despite what slashdot would have you believe, they are not all that profitable. Hosting some videos in Seattle and charging people to see them with little to no overhead? Very profitable. Expect them to invest heavily in that side of the business.

      The FCC gave up on net neutrality, and now they're giving up on the universal service fund. You think it's bad now? Just wait. You're going to g

    • I think Google is being a bit smarter than that on the "last mile" --- they are winning this in the Airliner fashion; build routes where there is the most profit. Like being the only direct flight to some location that no other airline services or in a high traffic area where there is the most profit.

      If they can lower costs and have high margins in every area, they squeeze the profit from the last mile extortionists and have leverage to negotiate. I'm sure as Google goes along, they will speed up deployment

  • Easy solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomhath (637240) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @09:19AM (#47816293)
    There's nothing on TV worth watching anyway. Just turn it off.
    • Bingo! I haven't had a TV subscription since maybe 2004, and I don't miss it one bit. Yeah, I'm stuck with DSL, but it works, it's cheap, and it's local.

      Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon can all suck it.

      • Hey, I know you! You were featured in that article on The Onion! Wow, it's a huge honor to have such a famous person contribute to Slashdot's discussion.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I'm watching all the old shows on netflix, lots of stuff worth watching in the wayback machine.

  • At the very least this will bring healthy competition into the cable industry and give people more options, albeit it an ad-happy-filled option, but at least an option to lower prices.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Except Amazon is just a "me too!" player, after Netflix and Hulu Plus. I don't see what they're doing that's revolutionary and is going to make the big content providers change their act.

  • AVP ... again? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @09:48AM (#47816617) Journal

    Comcast vs Amazon, whoever wins, we lose!

  • by Dega704 (1454673) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:00AM (#47816717)
    Part of me screams for Amazon to mercilessly crush the cable companies and salt their fields. The more reasonable side of me worries we would wind up trading one overpowered corporate overlord for another. It won't stop me from grabbing popcorn and enjoying the show either way, though; just to satisfy the bloodlust against these bastards.
    • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @10:56AM (#47817293) Journal
      It's more than Amazon: Google, Microsoft, AOL, etc are all plotting how to do this.

      Video advertisements are huge revenue generators, which is why every crappy website (including Slashdot) now is trying to find a place for them, and ideally generate video content. Some of these companies (Amazon, AOL, Hulu) are trying to create full episodic content, so they can generate even more revenue.

      Remember:
      Advertizers = revenue (or customers).
      Users = product (or views).
      Content = honey that attracts the users.
    • by bored (40072)

      It will never be a real battle until amazon starts providing last mile services. The Cable Co's and the content providers (amazon in this case) need each other to much to actually have a battle to the death.

      So, much like the "blackouts" and other BS that happens once in a while, the end result is not positive for the consumer. The cable bills never go down or even stay the same. Instead they go up and both sides get to blame the other. All while making record profits for wall street.

      Nothing will change unti

  • Good, we need more competition in the digital delivery field. My current choices are:

    A) Tweedledee
    B) Tweedledum

    One has crappy equipment, the other crappy customer service.

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @11:58AM (#47817891) Homepage

    The Google Amazon Netflix Network - seriously, this is what they should do. They should basically, form a pact, get a few other big companies like Facebook. Then start popping out internet access points locally. Dump those billions into cabling and internet towers. By-pass Comcast/Verizon completely. And watch Comcast's worst nightmare.

    Googe+Amazon+Netflix+Facebook = majority draw

    Google and Amazon already have a lot of fiber. How much such a coalition earn from $20/home broadband?

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Half the companies you listed treat you as the product, not the customer.

      No thanks, Comcast/TWC/Cox already operate in that mode.

      • by PortHaven (242123)

        Right, so I'd much prefer to be the product at $20/month than to be the commodity at $150/month

      • by tepples (727027)
        I own a Nexus 7 tablet that I bought from Google's store and several books I bought on Amazon. My cousin shares a Netflix subscription with one of his friends from his previous school. That leaves Facebook. Where do you get half?
  • If someone would offer a "you pick 50 channels for $50" service, they would win. Break it up into 5 levels and pick 10 from each. I hate paying for 300 channels when I only want / watch 20% of them. I know, there are all sorts of license, premium fees, etc. But if someone can figure a way around it...
    • Mod parent up please. No a la carte has been cable's Achille's heel since forever.
    • If someone would offer a "you pick 50 channels for $50" service, they would win. Break it up into 5 levels and pick 10 from each. I hate paying for 300 channels when I only want / watch 20% of them. I know, there are all sorts of license, premium fees, etc. But if someone can figure a way around it...

      20%? More like 2% maybe (6 channels)? Most people I know only watch less than a dozen channels regularly.

      In our case at home, when we used to have cable, we had to sign for one of the uber-packages to get a NHK Japanese programming channel. My brother-in-law has to do the same thing to get his Arab-language TV programming. And pretty much every South/South East Asian acquaintance of mine do the same to get their Hindi/Vietnamese/Filipino programming. So that is one channel.

      Add one or two channels for

  • Right now, publishers of video games have the power to make Twitch irrelevant by sending notices of claimed infringement pursuant to OCILLA regarding videos of video games whose copyright the publisher owns. If Comcast can convince publishers to forbid Twitch streaming of their games, especially games that are adaptations of films and series produced by Comcast's NBCUniversal division, Amazon will have less leverage. I wonder whether WB Games would be willing to do the same as a favor for the cable company
  • They should probably make an effort to get their instant video app into the google play store if that is the plan. I use a chromecast and an android phone to watch my content. Can't do that without jumping through a bunch of hoops with amazon instant video.
  • "Have fun stormin' da castle." "Think it'll work?" "It would take a miracle."

Old programmers never die, they just branch to a new address.

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