I know – what is he doing writing about some old movie. Well, first of all, the name was For Love of Ivy and my title is different. Second of all, I can hear those of you under 40 asking what the hell I’m talking about.
Let’s start over. I’m not writing about an old movie but about a piece of new technology. OK, the technology itself isn’t that new but the business model may be and if this all pans out, another big change just happened. Did you hear it?
I’m writing about Ivi. This is a downloadable player which delivers a traditional television viewing experience online. In real-time, as in live. In essence, they want to be a virtual cable company except there’s no cable. You pay them $5 a month and they stream you broadcast content. You can add forward, rewind and other functions for $1 a month. Legal?
In the U.S., cable and satellite TV providers can legally retransmit broadcast content without getting the originating party’s permission or striking any deals as long as they pay fees twice a year to the U.S. Copyright Office which then get distributed to rights holders. The Ivi folks say they’re going to make the payments and work with Nielsen to get audience numbers (which is an advantage to the broadcasters to know). Assuming each player has a unique ID, ads can be targeted based on geography and any other info Ivi is collecting. This article explains it pretty well as does this one from Venture Beat.
With more than one-quarter of U.S. households already cutting the cable cord in favor of on-line streaming video and wireless alternatives this could be a pretty powerful game-changer. The big question is if Ivi can make peace with the content-providers. I’m also wondering if they will be able to add cable-only nets (the laws and rules only apply to broadcast) which may be encumbered by current distribution agreements (they usually forbid live-streaming although this is NOT the open Internet – it will be behind a pay wall).
Want to try it? You can sign up here and it’s free for the next month. Then let me know if you think this can be as much of a game-changer as I do.