Today was a bonanza regarding distribution of digital content online. Google, RealNetworks, Sony and Amazon all had significant announcements that impact how consumers can access video series, music, movies and books respectively. They all break new ground in some respect.
Possibly the most interesting development is that of Google, who inked a deal for distribution of a new animated web series by Seth MacFarlane through its AdSense network. This strategy blurs the line of content and advertising on the web because the two minute length clips will appear in the space normally dedicated for advertising on sites. Additionally, it could provide a new distribution system for high quality produced series. I expect it will increase clicks (prior to each segment an advertisement will play), but I fear that if it is to successful we will be inundated with web series “ads.” In terms of distribution, I think a better model can be seen with Hulu, though I understand Google’s desperate desire to entice visitors to take a glance at the advertising ghetto portion of web pages.
Moving along, RealNetworks announced that its Rhapsody music service will now offer 5 million DRM free songs at 256k-bit rates. This means the mp3s will play on any device at a higher sound quality than those from iTunes. While this is similar to recent offerings from Amazon and Napster, Rhapsody will also provide full length streaming to Yahoo! Music, MTV.com and others.
Changing topics, Sony plans to test a new movie distribution model via its Bravia TVs. The company will allow consumers to view the movie Hancock on Bravia TVs with internet access before releasing it on DVD. This could be the precursor to the end of set top boxes and the ability to surf the web directly from your TV without a separate computer connection. Interesting. Lastly, Amazon’s Kindle got a boost with news that Princeton University will begin making its textbooks available for the digital reader. It is the fourth university to do, but I still question if consumers will ever embrace reading novels and longer text on screens rather than pages. While I am a digital enthusiast, I still prefer reading off of paper.