We’re not above the time-honored tradition of ending one year with predictions for the next. In fact, we think they’re kind of fun. Given all that’s happened in 2009, here’s where we think we’ll net out in 2010. (Add your predictions in the comments!)
TV Everywhere will work, but it won’t be a true on-demand experience. Comcast’s stupidly named Xfinity will be a hit with consumers, delivering more premium content online than ever before. However, that joy will be short-lived as greed takes over and the cable company raises rates (while not officially putting a price tag on the authentication service), and networks hobble it with restrictive content windows and an overload of ads you can’t skip through.
Hulu will still pull in strong traffic, but it will become an increasingly lame duck. With no control over its own destiny, Hulu’s network parents will keep monkeying with release windows, and the site will add a subscription layer and more commercials. As a result, it will stagnate and die a slow death, fading away in 2011.
CNN’s iReport will break multiple huge stories. The site got close this year with the Iranian protests. But as more phones become live-video enabled, an increasing number of stories will break from first-hand, at-the-scene accounts. Additionally, we will all become paparazzi, and we’ll all have video footage of someone Tiger Woods allegedly slept with.
Comcast’s purchase of NBC will pass regulatory muster. Translation: Good-bye 30 Rock, hello prime-time version of E!’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Apple will launch a streaming service. Some have speculated that Apple’s purchase of Lala could lead the company to begin offering music streaming, or music in the cloud. But what about video? With the average download of an HD movie being about 3GB or 4GB, moving to an iTunes-based streaming service would free up space on consumer hard drives, but it would also allow Apple to offer instant-on streaming to laptops — and maybe even the iPhone.
The Boxee Box will be a bust. With broadband connectivity being extended to more consumer electronics devices like TVs and Blu-ray players, it will become difficult to justify buying yet another standalone box. And that’s not even mentioning Boxee’s bigger problem, which is convincing programmers and cable companies that it isn’t the enemy. Boxee has made some headway by striking partnerships with companies like Current TV and Major League Baseball, but a huge amount of content available through its software is still unlicensed.
Broadcast programming will find its way to the TV, via IP. We’ll probably see broadcast content, from Hulu or one of its parent companies, delivered directly to your television via over-the-top technology at some point. But it will take a licensing deal with an LG or a Samsung or a Vizio.
TiVo will cease to exist as we know it. All you have to do is look at the quarterly subscriber churn. How many more quarters can TiVo continue hemorrhaging customers before it hits zero? While the company has had some success with patent litigation against service providers, that’s not really a sustainable business model. With that in mind, expect a sale or some attempt to exit the hardware business before too long.