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Why don't cable and IPTV operators deliver a great audio experience to the family TV set?

Video Killed the Radio Star – Redux

Gemini Waghmare
2/17/2014
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I think of the evolution of music technology as having two distinct phases: The first phase took place in the 100 or so years before I was born, and the second over the last 40 years of my lifetime. And surely the latter has witnessed the more rapid and significant degree of change.

After all, the gramophone was invented in 1880s and radio in the 1890s, and they remained the staples of music consumption until the early 1970s. After I was born (and unrelated to that specific event!), the pace of innovation started picking up with the invention of magnetic tape recordings such as reel-to-reel, 8-tracks, and cassettes.

Since then, we've gone from Walkmans to ill-fated digital audio tapes to compact discs to MP3 players and finally to rights-managed digital music like iTunes. And now, with the emergence of the cloud, digital music can slowly sneak its way from the device into the ether, just as Pandora Media Inc. , Songza, and Sirius Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) have already done.

But while everyone is focused on the transition of music from physical to digital and from device to cloud, another paradigm shift is afoot. This shift is in the sound systems themselves. Have you noticed that household stereos have moved across the living rooms and have merged into our TV systems? That's in stark contrast to my first real "hi-fi" system, a big investment in sound and fury that was tucked away in a wall unit that sat beside -- but had absolutely no connection to -- my television.

Today, most of us have integrated sound systems, with audio-video receivers that pump HD surround-sound from TV programming with more dimensions than an average room. The merging of audio systems into video systems brings the movie theater experience home, but it also it makes the screen a great navigation device for the audiophile.

One of our VPs, a frequent entertainer, plays music at his get-togethers from his Apple-TV, connected to the television in his living room. While his TV is far from home-theater-sized, he's wired an amazing sound system to it that permeates every corner of the house. And his TV gives everyone the right to "own the remote" and pick their songs.

For cable operators, this presents a massive opportunity that became evident to me last month. Michael Jackson’s This is It concert video was on, and my kids, aged 2 and 6, were mesmerized watching a larger-than-life King of Pop in Dolby Digital on our wall-projected screen. What if my cable operator found a way to pump an endless and engaging supply of songs and music videos to the best sound system in my house?

Apple may forever have a role in managing my existing music collection, but I would gladly replace Internet radio and music video DVDs with a compelling and personalized IPTV-based music service. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV), and Roku Inc. offer Pandora today, but the opportunity for more variety and personalization of music on TV is nascent.

In 1980, MTV made its debut with its first video, Video Killed the Radio Star. While music videos don't have the same appeal they once did, and radio limps on, maybe IPTV will once again breathe new life into the TV industry's music ambitions.

— Gemini Waghmare, Founder & CEO, UXP Systems

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danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/24/2014 | 2:52:30 PM
Re: Video saves the Radio Star...sometimes
Interesting comment about "electronic esoterica". 

I keep seeing advertising for interesting devices. One example is the bluetooth powered speaker system that allows people to share music. 

I think there is potential fornew devices that utilize low-energy bluetooth or NFC. 
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/24/2014 | 1:20:20 PM
Re : Video Killed the Radio Star – Redux
I think the radio still has a long way to go. About cable companies giving bad services, we have to remember that the world is going wireless, and cable is a thing of the past. I think good management may get the flow going, however that depends unless a cutting edge technology is driving this forward.
Liz Greenberg
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Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/19/2014 | 12:06:05 PM
Re: Video saves the Radio Star...sometimes
Al, it would be a good question to the cable providers since they probably have to be force to do provide radio.  I know that when Comcast started rolling out digital here, the first thing that they wanted to do was can radio so that they could free up bandwidth for more moronic TV stations that few will watch.  They were not allowed to do that by our local government.  Up until that point, you could literally listen to radio for free over cable if you had an old box.  Now, you need to pay for the basic box but we still have radio.
Liz Greenberg
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Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/19/2014 | 12:03:05 PM
Re: Video saves the Radio Star...sometimes
Jessie,  I think that the model we have here in Marin is pretty good.  I can have REAL radio stations so that I can experience a plethora of music, news or whatever as well as pre-canned mixes. Listening to the radio allows me to experience music that I might not hear anyway.  Due to the challenging terrain, I listen to SiriusXM in my car or again I would only have 1 to 2 channels!

It is feasible to say that ALL methods of music delivery are outdated including Pandora etc. since streaming music is well over 10 years old. However, we should not confuse length of time of something happening with something being outmoded...after all we are still listening with the same ears, brain, etc.  As an FYI some of us like all music from classical through current, although I have to say heavy metal isn't a favorite.
geminiwaghmare
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geminiwaghmare,
User Rank: Blogger
2/19/2014 | 7:53:01 AM
Re: Video saves the Radio Star...sometimes
Hi Jesse,

Indeed my content is a little tired because I am stuck in the 80s.  Sorry for that.   In my defense I do know a handful of people that listen to Kanye, Katie Perry and Mumford and Sons, and Im sure that stuff sounds good on a home theatre sound system too.  Or maybe those guys don't watch or own TVs anyway and we and all the MSOs are doomed anyway!

G
geminiwaghmare
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geminiwaghmare,
User Rank: Blogger
2/19/2014 | 7:49:17 AM
Re: Radio UI
mjgraves,

interesting angle on volume, i never thought about that... agreed that unless you have a full out home theater the experience may be sub-par

 

gemini
geminiwaghmare
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geminiwaghmare,
User Rank: Blogger
2/19/2014 | 7:45:59 AM
Re: Radio UI
Hi Sarah,

With the move towards more IP based content delivery, I think the game is wide open.   There is no reason we can't put something like SoundCloud or Songza on the TV that is personalized to the individual and curates content dynamically based on social networks.  So what I'm envisioning here is much  more and app/widget like experience.

Gemini
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
2/18/2014 | 9:36:07 PM
Re: Video saves the Radio Star...sometimes
Interesting, Liz. I wonder how many other Marin County situations there are out there. 
Jessie Morrow
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Jessie Morrow,
User Rank: Lightning
2/18/2014 | 2:52:03 PM
Re: Video saves the Radio Star...sometimes
... content delivery is tired. 


And I would prefer to say that maybe the content is tired. When the only music mentioned in the article is that of a 4 or 5 year old concert from a then over-the-hill performer. But a discussion of current day music is way too far afield for this board. 

But, yes, granted music delivery is due for a change, everytime I come  across a high end receiver or speaker system I am surprised that they are still making these boxes  which were very commonplace a few decages ago but now can be truly called electronic esoterica.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/18/2014 | 1:17:35 PM
Re: Video saves the Radio Star...sometimes
Interesting read. I sometimes feel like content delivery is tired. When you brought up the cable compaies, I thought about how outdated their model really is. 

It is important to consider just how poorly the cable companies are currently delivering content. It is out of whack in a Netflix-driven streaming world. 
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