At NewTeeVee Live, Om Malik, founder of GigaOM, and Blake Krikorian, creator of Sling Media, talked about the future of the living room. Om kicks it off with a question about where we are now with online video in the living room.
Blake: This is a glacial sort of process with some quick polar ice caps melting every now and then. It’s not guys who are proceeding with the technological building block, but the guys building the enabling solutions. The technological building blocks are all there, but you have these business model challenges that will continue to hold the industry back.
We all like to talk about if it will be online video or the cable TV and Internet. It’s not ‘or,’ it’s an ‘and.’ The bigger challenge is, When we have more and more choice, how do we make that access ubiquitous — regardless of the type of display and location of that content? Then, how do you help consumers find what they’re looking for. There’s less choice on the PC than on the cable boxes, but it’s easier to find what you’re looking for so it feels like there are more.
Om: So should we expect to see a web-like experience on the TV?
Blake: The experiences and the tools that are part of the web that we take for granted, such as sending a link or search, will unlock a tremendous amount of value.
Om: Google and Apple do search and experience really well, so will they come into the living room?
Blake: It’s the cable and satellite guys. This is there business to lose if they continue to stay asleep at the wheel. They’re differentiation today is I have more HD channels than everyone else. They’re not thinking about the experience.
Om: What are you guys doing at Sling now?
Blake: We’re entering phase two of the company now. Our view in life is, there are many different displays, locations and sources of content, and our goal is to make it so seamless that the consumer doesn’t have to care. We are launching a video destination site on (I think) the 24th of this month. One of the big shifts in that site is that it’s the first multi-source multi-platform on that site. We’ll have web content, but if you have a Slingbox you can go from the web to watching live TV from the Slingbox. Then we’ll bring those web tools to the traditional TV screens.
Om: The next big thing is TiVo with anytime TV, and Slingbox came along with anytime TV — and now we’re talking about TV that’s managed through a computer device?
Blake: Yes, if you stop and look, it was technically possible, but it’s pathetic that we haven’t delivered it. Look at NBC on the Olympics on the web and on TV. Why can’t this shit be synchronized? Why isn’t that tied together? It’s possible. It’s because we couldn’t get into the cable boxes. And that’s changing now. There are services we’re working on to make media richer and also create a bigger ad inventory. Fundamentally this is possible, but no one knows if they have the rights to this? Working through those rights to the content will be difficult and make it a glacial process.
Om: Why are you so optimistic about home video in our homes when Steve Jobs says Apple TV is just a hobby?
Blake: If you’re doing well, it’s the second coming, then if you’re not doing well, that’s a hobby.