Lately, we've been hearing a lot about the so-called three-screen strategies for integrating video content delivery
between TVs, PCs, and mobile phones. It's a fantastic idea, sort of the video equivalent of FMC.
Alas, what has happened to FMC
? Remember all the vendors talking about automatic handoffs between mobile and fixed networks? It's a great concept, but its point of failure is in the need for wireless and wireline carriers to cooperate to make it work.
The same holds for delivering video content to three screens
- you need cable operators and wireless carriers to collaborate, and perhaps ISPs as well, depending on the end user's choice of providers. Certainly, it would seem the likes of Verizon and AT&T would have an advantage, given their service portfolios, but both have limited service areas, and AT&T has frequently struggled to deliver on expectations.
That said, if - and that's a big if - the network operators can play nice, the idea of an integrated video service would completely transform the customer experience.
I spent some time at Motorola's booth at The Cable
Show this week taking a look at what it all will mean (someday) and, quite frankly, the three screens concept, leveraging the Motorola Medios Management platform is something people will fall in love with as quickly as they did their DVRs and Slingboxes (though I imagine the folks at Slingbox
aren't all that keen on the three screens idea).
The concept of a single management platform to deliver content from various sources across multiple access networks to different devices, using rules and metadata to define profiles and content availability, means effectively that users will be able to select from live, VOD, time-shifted, and over-the-top content on their TVs (via STBs
), laptops and PCs, and mobile devices
. Ideally, this will even mean you can start watching a movie on one device, pause it, and later pick it up at the same point on a different device.
Some of the features I enjoyed in the demo included the ability to bookmark favorite content and types of content, live program restarting, social networking-type features and, of course, similar functionality across the different devices. But, perhaps the most useful is something many of us have become quite used to: a pointer-based remote control (think Wii
), which makes screen navigation infinitely simpler and allows for sexier menus, not to mention putting an end to scrolling through the alpha to find what you're looking for.
I'm not convinced that the majority of users will be able to enjoy this kind of three screen freedom anytime soon, but given freedom and flexibility and pure viewing enjoyment it offers, I encourage Motorola, the rest of the infrastructure vendor community and, most importantly, end users to make it clear that this is what you expect. After all, why do people like flying on JetBlue? I doubt it's because of the blue potato chips; rather, they can watch what they are used to watching at home. Now think of being able to do that on your laptop or mobile phone anywhere. Now, you will be able to watch the first pitch of the Mets game while sitting in the new Meadowlands Stadium on Sunday afternoon this fall.