My High Def Life: Forrester says paid video downloads are doomed

by Erica Sadun

MacDailyNew reports that Forrester Research is betting that video downloads don't have a future. Although they suggest that paid video downloads will increase this year, generating about a third of a billion dollars in revenue, they're predicting that this market will evaporate. Currently Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Walmart all offer paid video download services. The problem is apparently that sites like NBC and CBS offer free streaming media, where they receive ad support and they control the content and the audience.


2007-05-14 12:10:05
I think appointment TV will always be there for sports. And I'm not sure if broadcast TV will go away, cos it takes away the effort of choosing what to watch. People, generally, are lazy :)

But yeah, all this ad-supported nonsense will hopefully die a death. I don't like ads. I like TV shows. I'll pay for them.

2007-05-14 12:27:19
Does Forrester Research merit any more consideration in what they say than the average Joe Schmoe? What's the track record of their past forecasts like?

Any chance that they have frequently reported the impending demise of Apple in past visions of the future?

In my experience, almost all of these "thinkers for hire" wind up telling those that pay the bills what they want to hear, in some manner or other. Any chance that broadcasters are heavy duty subscribers to Forrester's thoughts and prognostications?

Rick Wintheiser
2007-05-14 13:57:32
My experience with Forrester is that they generally miss the mark, and are pretty anti-Apple. This is anecdotal data.... YMV
2007-05-14 15:44:17
I expect you'll see a variety of markets serving the same content - those of us who can afford it, and value our time over money, will take a 45 minute ad-free episode of BSG over a 60 minute one with ads - provided the price difference is reasonable.
Dick Applebaum
2007-05-14 17:59:44
I think that for the foreseeable future there will be some need to physically retain content for more than a few days.

For instance, that long car trip with the kids where acceptable high-speed access to the Internet is unlikely.

Or that business trip to Japan where you must, absolutely, have the content available on demand and secure.

One other thing about the Internet AV (or AppleTV AV, for that matter), is there is no parental control (or even parental guidance).

So rather than risk deep-sixing the business meeting, or listening to the kids scream in the back seat for several hours-- you take your content with you, electronically, not wirelessly.

You control who, sees what, and when!.

2007-05-15 07:06:19
Forrester has a point, they just don't know how to support it. The problem with the current model of video download is that it's not available outside of the US. Yes, the US is a huge market. Is it big enough though that the current early-adopters are going to be able to float video download until it becomes commonplace? US has one of the lowest percentages of broadband penetration in the world, and even then many of the people with broadband don't do much beyond send pictures via email. How much money could the networks make if they were to offer TV shows currently only broadcast in the US via download? I know that if I had the option I would pay a little per episode to watch Heros. As it stands, I have to wait for the torrent.

Apple's German website make me laugh too. "Everything you have in iTunes, but on your widescreen TV". Same for the UK. What I want to know is, why would I want my music collection on my TV? That's all there is in iTunes here. I have no idea why Apple even bothers to offer the TVs for sale here.

It's not that video download is a bad idea, it's just the Newton's new brother. Just like the Newton, I'm sure we'll all wonder how we go by in 10 years time.

2007-05-15 07:20:46
I have to question your idea that EyeTV + Mac + AppleTV currently makes a good PVR. Truth is, there's not real TiVO alternative in the Mac space (yet). I've researched and spent some money on some of the components you describe, and without a whole bunch of addon products, and even then will lack the flexibility of TiVo. Of course, TiVo doesn't have a particularly attractive pricing/business model any longer. So the end result - unless I'm missing something - is that there is no real viable intelligent PVR on the Mac side.
2007-05-15 08:32:27
I have seen so many misrepresentations and misunderstandings of the Apple TV, it's getting old. You pointed out the biggest misconception: that the Apple TV is somehow worthless without the iTunes paid content. I subscribe to a few shows through iTunes, which is great hassle-free TV (no commericials, and consistent quality (not hi-def yet tho). For those I really care about, the iTunes fee is not bad, because I'd pay the same to see three good movies. But 90% of what I use my Apple Tv for is non-iTunes content. I've ripped some DVDs (mainly stuff for the kid who watches the same thing over and over), and then 'found' a ton of good content online, which with a simple conversion is ready for the ATV (ofcourse, your ATV hacking can solve that permanently by installation of video codecs). Finally over 50% of the time, I am listening to music. The ATV is a great extension of my iTunes library (not store), and a lot of people seem to forget about this. I like this aspect of it as much as the video.