This week the team discuss video - from how we access and watch it to the impact new apps and platforms will have on that in the future. Ben, Ewan and Rafe review the ways they watch video and consider whether ‘cord-cutting’ will ever be mainstream.
Ben: Hello. Welcome to 361, a weekly podcast about mobile tech and everything around it. My name is Ben Smith.
Ewan: I'm Ewan MacLeod.
Rafe: I'm Rafe Blandford.
Ben: This is Season 11 Episode 3. This week, we're talking about video.
Ewan: How we watch it, stream it, and download it through our devices.
Rafe: How new platforms and apps will change within the future.
Ben: Welcome back chaps. Good to see you.
Ben: Indeed, Indeed.
Rafe: Oh right, wake up.
Ben: What? What?
Rafe: As our Ewan McLeod was fiddling with his iPad there.
Ewan: No well I'm still listening, though.
Ben: Ah, so it's mobile tech.
Ewan: It's all relevant.
Ben: Fair enough, it's a micro-tech. Can we ...
Ewan: Come on.
Ben: Rafe Blandford, how the devil are you?
Rafe: I'm feeling slightly under the weather, but I'm really looking forward to recording this podcast. It is one of the highlights of my week.
Ben: Rafe Blandford, you know, as a British person, the only acceptable answer to, "How are you?", is "I'm fine, how are you?".
Rafe: I'm fine, how are you Ben?
Ben: It's like you've broken the code. I'm good, thank you. How are you Mr. Ewan MacLeod?
Ewan: Isn't that the American thing? "Hi, how are you? I don't care ..."
Rafe: That's, "Have a nice day".
Ben: My favorite game in America is the customer service workers in America. When you say, "Thank you", their programmed to say, "You're welcome". British people have to say thank you about 15 during times during a transaction, so there's just constant flow of, "Thank you", "You're welcome", "Thank you", "You're welcome", "Thank you", "You're welcome".
Ben: Yeah, "Thank you that you completed my transaction", "Thank you for the receipt". "Thank you for ... "
Ben: "Thank you again".
Ewan: During a normal transaction.
Ben: I was watching myself, I said, "Thank you" as I handed them my credit card, "Thank you" as I got the receipt, "Thank you".
Ewan: Did you say sorry at any point as well?
Ben: I probably said it.
Ewan: It's not properly British if you've not said it.
Ben: I saw this great quote once that says, "If you walk into an Englishman he will say sorry to point out how rude you are".
Ewan: How have you been?
Ben: I'm good, thank you very much for asking.
Ewan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Ben: Yeah, so any news? Silence.
Rafe: I've got news about the towers.
Ben: We'll come to that.
Rafe: Yeah, exactly.
Ben: We'll come to that, but any other news? No.
Ben: Oh okay. Excellent. Well it's good that we prepared this section of the show. Rafe Blandford what are we talking about this week?
Rafe: We're talking about video this week Ben.
Ben: That's good stuff. In what respect are we talking about video?
Rafe: We want to talk about the rise of streaming video but kind of dig into it a bit and see the way that that's changing things and, as we like to do on this podcast, do a bit of future gazing and try and make some predictions. I think some of this will be very personal, about sharing our experiences, but it feels like there's been such a rapid change. We've talked about this topic before, so we thought we'd revisit it and try and see has this becoming something that's a bit more mass market and has it been our ... met our expectations?
Ben: We can't start a video podcast without, first of all noting that's there's no video on this podcast. No, we can't talk about podcast videos without talking about what we use, so Ewan McLeod, go.
Ewan: Yes, okay, right so I'm heavy on Amazon in a minute, every since they ...
Ben: I'm heavy on pizza, but that's just a ...
Rafe: That's was a pre-recording snack.
Ewan: That was good.
Ewan: I had a salad, in case anyone's listening.
Rafe: You did, I noticed. With salad and pepperoni.
Ewan: That's right and garlic sauce relish. With Amazon ever since they launched their Amazon Prime, ever since been launched the facility for you to download any of the Prime content onto your mobile phone or mobile device. That has changed it for me. I used to be a quite a big Netflix user, but now I'm prioritizing Amazon, simply because you can download and therefore watch on the plane, the train or anytime were you may have a poor connection.
Ben: In general though, setting aside the fact that we're talking about mobile video a bit, because it's 361, what's the majority of video that you watch? Is it live broadcast TV? Is it streamed?
Ewan: It's only 'Strictly Come Dancing', because the wife likes it and it gives an opportunity to have a lot of wine.
Ben: You did.
Rafe: Another bottle of wine?
Ben: I would need another bottle of wine to get through that.
Rafe: Go Peter Andre.
Ewan: I'm just the same, my wife loves it so that's what we watch ...
Rafe: All the hassle you give me and he's just admitted to something like that and we haven't mocked him mercilessly?
Ewan: To be honest, I need a run up of this. Well get some more stuff in about [inaudible 00:04:14] date shortly. I think it's interesting to look at how my household, me in particular, how we've changed over five years. We hardly ever watch anything live. I don't think we watch anything live now, at all.
Ben: Except for ...
Ewan: It's all time shifted.
Ben: Except for Strictly?
Ewan: We don't even watch that live.
Ben: Right, so ...
Ewan: We time shifted, because the children want to go to bed and we're making a meal or whatever.
Ben: Okay, so you're watching what BBC iPlayer?
Ewan: We're using the Sky-box at the moment, but yeah we just use anything.
Ben: Okay so you do. You're time shifting live TV with a DVR and you're watching Netflix and Amazon through the apps.
Ewan: Yes and I also have my NowTV subscription as well.
Ben: Okay and that ...
Ewan: We've got a Sky Subscription, but I refuse to commit to giving them crazy month's money, since I have the ability to easily switch off.
Ben: In fact anyone not in the UK then, a NOW TV subscription is a Netflix kind of clone but it hooks into the broadcaster SKY.
Ewan: Right so our big satellite provider here is Sky and they have a lot of the good TV, good big brand name shows, so ...
Rafe: According to one of the big cable companies in the States.
Ewan: Right, they're not only a cable, but satellite provider. They launched recently and probably about a year ago, something called Now TV which gives you the ability to access their content via mobile device or a little small mini set top-box. Easy go.
Rafe: It's a cut down right from Sky. You don't need a satellite connection, it's all done via s data connection and it has a, I think a reduced service offering but for a lot of people it seems to have been sufficient and they've actually grown from sort of nowhere to about 3% of the UK households in basically, the last 18 months.
Ben: Yeah. Good facts there from Rafe Blandford. Rafe Blandford, what about your house? Now your house is still quite new?
Ewan: Are we talking the London pad?
Ewan: As opposed to ... Obviously, obviously. Like we dared. I'm just joking.
Rafe: As people know, I recently moved flat and I had been a Sky subscriber.
Ben: You call it a flat. That's nice.
Rafe: Yes, when I moved in, I noticed that there was a satellite feed but there was only a single one, and so a lot of the utility I had got from Sky was being able to record more than one thing at once and do that year in time shifting and so I actually decided to cancel it and I switched to Now TV, exclusively and then was using iPlayer and sort of ...
Ben: Was the box on or with ...?
Rafe: With a box, I went out and spent 25 pounds to get a box and it came with 3 months worth of subscription. I was also using Amazon, but it was more accidentally, because I actually got Prime for the delivery for Amazon.
Ben: Since you've got it, you might as well use it.
Rafe: Since I've got it, I use it and I use that through my Sony Smart TV and it works fine. There's a lot of content I enjoy watching on there. Sky then rang me up and said, "We'd really love it for you to come back", and I had been paying ...
Ben: Sort of brand ambassador kind of role.
Rafe: About 40 pounds on a Sky subscription and that included some broadband as well, so I was on one of their lower packages. I said, "It's only broadband, we've got that sorted out thank you". Then all right, "We'll give it you for free for six months and thereafter ..."
Ben: You then said yes, did you?
Rafe: "You'll then pay 12 pounds a month and you can have the same subscription service that you had" and it was cheaper then I was paying for Now TV so I said, "Yes, I already had the equipment". It turned out to be a pretty annoying decision.
Ben: They got you. They got you. Come on.
Rafe: They got me back but ...
Ben: Free for six months.
Rafe: It is, I will cancel it.
Ben: Will you be able to cancel it?
Rafe: Yes, because on that month to month rolling contract, so that's fine and it just worked better for me, because actually having that play shifting on a DVR was the most important thing, because sometimes the on-demand stuff isn't available for long enough and I have stuff on there that's been there a while. Actually, I'll probably shift away from Sky because they haven't been able to provide the on-demand services. There's just something broken on the broadband connection or the box and spent an hour or two on the phone line trying to get it fixed. Just wasn't able to. It kind of reminded me that, actually it's the customer service and the experience that matters and quite how it happens and who it comes from, I don't really care about.
Ben: It doesn't really matter, does it?
Rafe: How about you Ben? What are you using?
Ben: Short story in our house. We've got Smart TV in our living room and that's got BBC iPlayer.
Ewan: That's Samsung.
Ben: It is a Samsung. Actually I bought Samsung because in the UK it has apps for all of the domestic broadcasters and I think Samsung is one of the few that has complete coverage of all the providers. Unfortunately those apps are a abysmal. They absolutely ...
Ewan: It's the TV that's abysmal. It's the system that runs the TV.
Ben: Well it probably it is.
Ewan: Yeah, because you're the best with [inaudible 00:08:35].
Ben: It's funny actually that you can, so we watch a lot of BBC iPlayer and something that will stream happily on a laptop or a tablet, just buffers and breaks on a Smart TV on the same connection, so something somewhere is broken but kind of the TV is the common theme there so I was very disappointed about that. Actually because, new baby, we spend a lot of time in the kitchen, we make meals in the kitchen and we don't have a TV in there now. We bought a new sofa, I'm not allowed to have dinner in the living room anymore. Bring it in on a tray and watch the television. Actually what we're doing now, is with either a tablet or a laptop just plonked on a table somewhere, we're watching streaming TV and we're pretty much ...
Ben: No I don't watch Strictly Come Dancing, because I have taste, but we're just watching iPlayer and basically because we're only watching an hour or so of TV a day, during a meal or after a meal, normally, the BBC service is good enough, I mean there is no adverts all that kind of stuff and so well, I'm actually I'm perfectly willing to just watch whatever comes out of their catalog. I don't feel constrained.
Ewan: In real time?
Ben: Well I might watch some stuff that's been broadcast in the previous month, but I don't think if I've got an hour to fill, there's enough good stuff there that I can fill my hour. I don't sort of hanker for, "Oh I wish I had kind of all the other shows", as it were, because at the moment, we wouldn't have time to watch them.
Ewan: Can I ask a question? I think the listeners will be burning, burning to know, and that is Blandford and Smith, what your top three shows that you watch regularly?
Ben: Okay while you're thinking [crosstalk 00:10:05].
Rafe: Okay would you like to tell us your top 3 shows Ewan?
Ewan: This is purely just what I've been downloading on Amazon Prime and I've been watching the Last Viking or the last, what's that viking one? The Last Kingdom. The Last Kingdom on iPlayer.
Ewan: That's from Burnwell Cornwell series, it's pretty good.
Ewan: It's the Game of Thrones equivalent for BBC.
Ewan: After watching the Mr. Robot on Amazon.
Ben: Now I did watch that, so my caveat to what I said is, before I go on a plane, I go onto Amazon and download something that will pass the journey away.
Ben: Like Rafe, I've got free ... I've got Prime, because I'm a Prime Subscriber and I use that. The only time I bother to go and download a bunch of stuff is when I know I'm going to have loads of TV viewing time, like a flight.
Ewan: Right. Then I think there have been Red Dogs, I think it was. Because I've been getting way into Amazon, because you can just download the stuff and doing so much travel, it's brilliant. I've been doing it of their own commission content, which is great.
Ben: I watch Mr. Robot but apart from that I wouldn't have regular shows, we just stick on whatever is, so popular BBC shows like, "Have I Got News For You", and those kind of popular kind of news or satire or, to be honest we normally stick the live TV on. Actually, Rafe, you were saying about time shifting, the BBC iPlayer now includes live TV and you can time-shift for many, many hours previously. Far more than you would with a DVR practically. Actually I wouldn't even feel bothered to get a DVR now, because I can do that with, all right not with all the channels but with enough that's good enough.
Rafe: It's interesting you say that, because I certainly found that on the BBC channels they very rarely record things now because iPLayer also has the ability to let you start watching a program while it's still going on, which is a relatively recent thing, but that's great for something like, "Have I Got News For You". I do like the Last Kingdom as well, so I have to agree with Ewan on that one.
Ewan: Good man, good man.
Rafe: I suppose the sort of the guilty pleasure is something like a ...
Ewan: Wait a minute, let me do it; Antiques Road Show.
Rafe: I was a bit, it's actually, it's worse. It's worse.
Ewan: Oh. Oh wait a minute, is it the thing about how much, is it the thing in your closet thing?
Rafe: No, it's Supergirl.
Ewan: Oh, Supergirl.
Ben: What's that? That's a new one right?
Rafe: It's a new kind of Marvel, one of the DC Comics, I guess if it's Supergirl.
Ben: Somebody somewhere listening to the podcast is angry that you might have got that wrong, I know.
Rafe: I'm sure I have. And the other one is another bit of Amazon content, "The Man In The High Castle".
Ben: Yeah, I haven't watched that yet. As fascinating as this is, I'm not sure ...
Rafe: If it's relevant.
Ben: No, I'm thinking that we've got our favorite services and we use them for a variety reasons and it's interesting that we are all quite keen early adopters of tech and we've all mostly cut the wire, except for you, Ewan, and even you are time shifting stuff, so presumable if you could time shift on your telly conveniently over a stream service ...
Ben: You would?
Ewan: Yeah it's just because we got the Sky box there is getting rather old.
Ben: It's just a [inaudible 00:12:46] thing.
Ewan: Yeah it's just pure legacy.
Ben: It's just interesting, what is it that would drive other people to cold cutting and streaming and we were talking about the new Star Trek series before we started recording this and I'm not a massive Star Trek fan, I mean I ...
Ewan: Are you a Trekie?
Ben: I don't really like the Darleks and R2D2, so different [inaudible 00:13:07] ...
Ewan: A few mistakes there.
Rafe: You think I was annoying people? This is an interesting, because this is CBS in the States, they're saying 2017 new Star Trek series, the first couple of episodes they're going to do on broadcast TV but thereafter it's going to be available first on CBS All Access, which is their new stream service. Now this isn't unique but it's kind of high profile compared to the experiments that's been run with E4 around things like skins and BBC have done it I think with car share and there's been some of that content. Also we've got BBC3 and some of the other channels in talking about going iPlayer only. That's a really high profile one, which ...
Ben: There's a lot of Trekies out there.
Rafe: Much like HBO going, we're going to release things first through HBO Go, I think that could well drive people's behavior to change, because what it brings back to me is, actually it's not really about what you're using to aggregate or watch the content on, it's still really about the content more than anything else.
Ben: Well it's interesting, because the first, apart from where is the new Star Trek series coming out, well the first bit of feedback I saw online, on the social medias, was people saying, "Oh God, it's going to be on CBS All Access which is awful and free rolls a load of ads and it's horrendous and it's terrible service and it's very unreliable." I'm wondering, it's all very well forcing people to use your streaming service and using premium content, or very desirable content as a way to drive that, but who is actually going to put up with the friction of a really terrible service that tries to monetize itself in a clumsy way. The reason I like the iPlayer is it's free, it's fast, it works well and there's no advertising.
Rafe: I think that's why people like Netflix and it's equivalents as well. HBO has kind of the almost ad-free options now, which would be very widely adopted but at the same time, a lot of these broadcasters are trying to shift into this model and some have been more successful than others in trying to do that. I rather admire what Channel 4 here in the UK has done, by trying to think a little bit differently about the way those services are consumed and actually it's that changing consumption that is probably something that's a more profound impact.
Ben: Talking of free and high quality, it's a time to remind you that you can support this show by going to 361podcast.com where you will find links of ways that you can become a sponsor of this show.
Rafe: Don't do it.
Ben: This is really, really important.
Ewan: Terrible value for money.
Ben: It's really important, this one.
Ewan: No don't do it, please.
Ben: All right and there's a reason Blandford, why Blandford is protesting.
Ewan: Oh I've just put 2 and 2 together and made a mess of it.
Rafe: No, just don't do it.
Ewan: Right so what we're doing here listener is, as Ben says there is an opportunity for you to contribute toward an sponsor, are we calling it sponsor?
Ben: We're looking for patrons is the term I think.
Ewan: That's right.
Ewan: Yeah and you can choose how much you'd like to pay an episode and you can start and stop at any time and you could start from $1 an episode, so hopefully $10 for a season doesn't feel too much. That's about 6 pounds of your English money, but of course Rafe Blandford is getting twitchy because there's a special reward when we reach 100 US dollars per episode.
Ewan: 100 US Pesos as they are at the moment, then we're going to unlock a special episode where we're going to get Rafe Blandford, well massaged live on the show.
Ewan: There's a service called "Urban Massage", here in London and from your mobile app you can request a masseur, is that right? Masseus, masseur?
Ewan: To come to your place of work, your home, your hotel and you can actually choose the type of massages you want and you pay it all via mobile. Really smart, really efficient.
Ben: Give us a dollar and someone will come and rub Rafe Blandford during a recording.
Ewan: Well basically what I've been doing, is working out how that would work, all through last season I was saying ...
Rafe: It's [inaudible 00:16:43], I haven't actually agreed to this yet.
Ewan: Well your consent is very much secondary concern.
Ben: Basically, if the listeners actually respond to it, we're going to do it.
Rafe: [crosstalk 00:16:51] have to put up with this stuff from [crosstalk 00:16:53].
Ewan: What you are going to see, or what you're going to hear is Rafe Blandford having a massage live during the recording of the episode.
Rafe: Other things might be swapped in.
Ben: We will also try and find some other interesting, unusual or unexpected things that you can buy buy by mobile as well. Get to 361podcast.com if you would like to, we've enjoyed putting together ...
Ewan: Now featuring guinea pig Blandford.
Ben: Exactly. We've enjoyed putting together 11 seasons and now we're asking, we have to do more of our ambitious stuff, we're asking for the support from the business. Of course the show will stay free regardless.
Ewan: Of course, yes.
Ben: Okay so back to the topic at hand, we should talk about how you watch the TV, it's somewhat watch video, it's somewhat implied in the conversation that we've had that, this is mostly smart TV's or phones and things, it's all apps but neither of you mentioned much actual mobile viewing. Ewan you said you watch loads on the go so is it tablet?
Ewan: No it's not tablet, it's my iPhone 6S. Sort of plus S, what do you call it? Yeah that's 6 ...
Ben: Having a branding fail there.
Ewan: Plus 6, 6S Plus.
Ben: 6S Plus.
Ewan: 6S Plus.
Ben: Come on, stay on message..
Ewan: They really haven't though about that, have they?
Ben: I think actually it's you that haven't thought about it.
Ewan: Well I'm the consumer. Because it's such a big screen though, I would normally have put it on my iPad, he's just pointing to it.
Ben: It doesn't works well on an audio podcast.
Ewan: No indeed. My favorite one is this, one.
Ben: oh lovely. Thank you very much.
Ewan: The only thing I watch on television is Mr. Tumble.
Ben: Mr. Tumble?
Ewan: Oh it's the ...
Ben: That's a ... No. I know for a fact that that's a children's.
Ewan: Ah yeah it's Mr. Tumble, yeah I watch that with the boys and back to the Octonauts.
Rafe: That dance off thing.
Ewan: Then Strictly.
Ewan: With my wife.
Ben: Fair enough.
Ewan: And wine, lots of wine.
Ben: I have chrome cast, which I used to used in a telly to do streaming from a mobile app when I didn't have a smart TV, but now I've got a smart TV, well it is, I might ...
Ewan: Still doesn't work.
Ben: Oh yeah it doesn't work. I might go back to the Chromecast, but it just feels an inelegant solution. I'm nine tenths of the way to saying actually I might just go and buy, I don't know a fire TV or a ...
Ewan: I've got one of those, it's amazing.
Ben: Or another bunch of Chromecasts or get an Apple TV and just basically replace all of that round the house.
Ewan: Not everything is a television, it's a smart TV, it's a Sony smart TV which is rubbish, yeah as you just discussed.
Ewan: Smart TV's are rubbish. I only use it for the picture.
Ben: Yeah, the big screen. Actually on the go, I very rarely watch TV on the go now, because so few of my journeys are ones, are conducive to watching, I listen to podcasts, because they're faster.
Ewan: Very impressive.
Ben: No I actually do. When we travel, I used to get a player thing, "Oh I've watched the latest movie", that'd be good, but it's such a poor experience now, on a tiny little screen and being interrupted all the type and headphones don't work and this kind of stuff, I now load my iPad up. It's very telling, actually I had to delete Microsoft Office from my iPad to free up a gig and a half of space to download.
Ewan: See that is a bit of an issue.
Ben: I should have got an iPad with more storage space on it.
Ewan: Wow. Or an Android device with a little removable thingy.
Ben: No, don't be silly. Rafe, do you watch any, really mobile stuff?
Rafe: Yes I am using some mobile consumption but it tends to be in the scenarios where I don't want to be in front of the TV, so like you at the dinner table or occasionally when travelling but actually it tends to be other types of content consumption. Reading an e-book because it's more conducive to that interrupt behavior. Where it doesn't make sense to me where I am using it is for using mobile as a control mechanism, either for something like Chromecast for throwing content up quickly but then still watching it on the big screen and that's with various apps. Or using mirror cards for something similar. It also, it's kind of a control mechanism. It's not using it as a remote control, but some of the companion apps that come with the Sky service, for example, actually make it very easy to do remote recording or see what's coming up and that kind of thing. I would kind of like it to be a bit more mediated mobile and it'd be great if I could sort of shift content around the place, but that's not really something that's very easy to do right now. It's, as you were sort of saying, you have to make a decision about downloading or doing something ahead of time. There's a lack of flexibility, in which I find quite irritating, when I'm using multiple devices in my life. It is still all really based around that TV big screen.
Ben: I haven't bothered to get a Netflix subscription, even though it would fit perfectly with my way of viewing stuff, which is all time shifted or it's all streamed or it's all from a device.
Ewan: Only streaming, that's the problem.
Ewan: I would do it at home.
Ben: Yeah, so at home that would be no problem.
Ewan: You can't do it in a hotel, because most hotels ...
Ben: Terrible wi-fi.
Ewan: The wi-fi is just ridiculous.
Ben: I've got a limited 4G, or the tariff, I've got so I could, but I also, when I travel, as I do sometimes for work, I've also been in hotels with horrible reception and whatever. Unless videos are available to download for me, I'm not going to pay money for it. I mean, it's sort of telling that okay the BBC services are free because of the UK you pay for it, with through a TV license fee. That's a subject for another time because some people feel that's not appropriate, but it does happen and it is paid for. Even that service, the fraction of money it gets from the license fee, offers a download, guest service. I'm sort of baffled why Netflix doesn't, because actually Amazon have clocked the ... You need it. Yeah and it's really important. It's hard to do. For example, when I downloaded the whole season of Mr. Robot, before flying to the States, we're talking about Episode 1. The app kept closing and things, because of course if you're going to download a lot of video, it's going to take more than 15 minutes, the screen is going to off, the apps are going to stop running in the background these sorts of things. Even then, I was pretty much prepared to go through the annoyance of repeatedly downloaded it or repeatedly resuming the download. I was surprised how much pain I was willing to go through to get a season of TV. I knew it was going to keep me entertained for two flights.
Rafe: Netflix has said that they don't thing there is the consumer demand in the mass market for it.
Ben: Makes me think that, if I am very far from reality and there's a slim chance that or they just haven't asked the right questions.
Ewan: Then the other thing, all the Americans that are either in an office with amazing wi-fi or at home with amazing wi-fi.
Ben: Even in the US, I'm an occasional traveler there. You don't get ubiquitous good, high-speed 3 and 4G data. You suffer the same issues in hotels and things that you do here, in fact obnoxious pay for wi-fi is more prevalent, I'd say in the US than many ...
Ewan: Pay for nonsense as well, it doesn't even work.
Rafe: It's interesting, I mean I think actually the reality it may be as much around content rights, they don't have the right to offer downloads and it's noticeable on Amazon, it's mainly their originals and some of the other exclusive licensing that you get that download for. To be fair to Netflix, they've got 50% of US households, about between 15 and 20% here in the UK.
Ben: That number blew me away.
Ewan: Half of America.
Ben: America's households, yeah.
Rafe: Yeah which is pretty amazing when you think about those numbers, so in that sense they're not wrong and Netflix is famous for using big data to improve recommendations. I'm sure they've looked and considered the cost implications and I suspect that, relatively speaking, we're unusual in wanting to have that ability to download and travel. For those people, those services do still exist in that you can buy it outright and you can do that on Sky, you can do that through iTunes or whatever it happens to be. For the people who are doing that regularly, that's a perfectly acceptable cost to say, "I'm going to spend 8 quid to download a movie that can then watch on that flight", and it is also the more recent content as well. Which you would had to see at the cinema and I suspect the vast majority of people who are Netflix have stopped going to the cinema and that's why they see the recent stuff. For some of the regular travelers who might be a bit more time-poor, maybe that's how they consume it. That's just one to think about.
Ewan: Can I tell you what I did recently? As I was on the train to Scotland. It's a four hour journey, I did ...
Ben: Four hour journey?
Ewan: Four hours, 20, I think it is, four hours.
Ben: Didn't think of flying?
Ewan: No I wanted to go on the train.
Ben: Sometimes you're just deliberately contrary, I mean.
Ewan: Normally I do a lot of work, sometimes I just want to think, make some notes, right? Flying is actually quite annoying. Just flying from London to Edinsborough is an hour flight, but it's four hours worth of nonsense. Get to the airport, through security blah, blah ...
Ben: Tell us about what telly you watched.
Ewan: Oh right, so what I'm saying, in Kings Park Station, it's where I departed from, I thought, "You know what, I'll try this Mr. Robot thing". If memory serves, I downloaded the first one, watched that, fine. Then I thought, "I haven't downloaded the second one, but I wonder what the streaming will be like, it will probably be rubbish." This is me using 3.
Ben: The network 3.
Ewan: The network 3 in the UK and I have unlimited download data on that tariff. I was astonished that all of a sudden I was able to start watching Mr. Robot, right, the second episode. The train was faster and faster, it didn't stop at all.
Ben: Not even at the stations?
Ewan: No, the train stopped but the signal didn't. Oh I'm sorry, the signal was going up and down but the ...
Ewan: The stream didn't stop.
Rafe: I think this is actually really important point. The kind of 4G networks have almost crept up on this without realizing they offer speeds, that offer multiples more than you actually need to stream video and so the video and so the possibility to buffer ahead is much stronger ...
Ewan: It was really good.
Rafe: Than it used to be and actually it becomes much more about having the smartness in the software and it recognizing that maybe you're on a connection that isn't stable all the time and so buffer more ahead. I think what Netflix and others will seek to do is guarantee that experience by being clever about how much and what it's buffering in trying to be predictive and actually Netflix are already doing this in the household, whereby they actually making it possible to start a stream. What is perceived to be instantly and the way they've done that is actually by it's certainly buffering the first 30 seconds of the things that you're most likely to watch.
Ewan: It's amazing. I'd love to know what it actually thinks I'm most likely watch, that'd probably help me.
Ben: Children' TV, based on what you were telling us earlier.
Ewan: Yeah, Mr. Tumble or Strictly.
Rafe: That's the Netflix recommendation technology. Having kind of a use that has an impact on experience, not just telling you something and so, those software tricks maybe get round this download issue for a lot of the cases and I appreciate that it's not ubiquitous or anything, connectivity, but it is getting better all the time.
Ben: Okay so we are super tight for time, we haven't got much time for a smartest home challenge update this week, so very, very quickly little soundbyte and we'll talk about it more season.
Ewan: I'm still thinking about that.
Ben: Next season? Next episode.
Ewan: I really want to see more of recommendations from the listeners, because I've been doing tons and tons of research, but I haven't committed to a platform yet.
Ben: Okay so you're stalling. Rafe Blandford?
Rafe: I've actually been quite scared by just how complex this smarter home challenge is, because there's lots of nice products out there, but they don't actually work all that way together. Lately when I've been doing a bit of researcher and I've actually settled on Samsung smart things, which I mentioned in an earlier episode.
Rafe: The reason for that is ...
Ben: You enjoy disappointment?
Rafe: Well ...
Ben: You couldn't find Windows, you couldn't find a Microsoft alternative.
Rafe: I think the Smart home in general is going to be a bit disappointing.
Ewan: Do you remember how I told you about the software on my Samsung Ttelevision?
Rafe: Yes well Samsung recently acquired Smart Things, so actually they've been independent.
Ben: Haven't had time to ruin it yet?
Rafe: That's a slightly negative way of looking at it, then, but it's actually quite open in the attitude to standards. You can do things like install your own smart apps in your kind of smart home things and so it was as much the openness and the ability to then fiddle with it and start having things work together that made it appeal to me and actually the version 2 of the hub recently came out in UK, it supports Bluetooth, it supports Wave and it supports Zigby which covers most of the major standards. It's something I know will allow me to start tying together sod of the technology I already have in the home.
Ewan: Now what, Ben Smith?
Ben: I had a plan, I had a very good plan that I was keen on and I'd made some decisions and then Google ruined it. [NESS 00:28:38] version 3 has come to the UK with an expanded set of features, including managing hot water and special control for boilers of the European variant and all this sort of stuff and I don't know for certain, but it looks very much like the new version addresses the things that meant I couldn't use it before, because of course I've got a slightly old heating system in my house. The underfloor heating system is water, it runs on hot water, so it was slightly more complicated. I think this is going to solve it. Everything has gone back now into the pot to see yeah, whether or not I can make that work.
Rafe: I find it interesting that you're kind of basing the original decision around the heating and the kind of hot water thing and that thing and it become how you build out from there, because I looked at that and actually I decided that wasn't how I wanted to build out a smart home.
Ben: I think it's also based on the thing that I want most.
Rafe: That's interesting
Ewan: What is the thing that you want most?
Ben: The thing that frustrates me most in the home, is controlling the temperature. We've got a nice underfloor heating system which is very nice, but it takes a long time to heat up and it and it takes a long time to cool down. I've programmed the system so that it comes on in the small hours of the morning and it's warm by breakfast time, but it's the kind of problem that the technologist in me looks at me and says, "A computer should be doing this for me".
Ewan: Do you use bare feet for that then to get value from it?
Ben: I literally go around my house, actually lying on my stomach at all times.
Ewan: Just to get value.
Ben: Just to get value. Right Rafe, we should crack on and finish up talking about video and we're going to have a look at what's coming down the tracks and at the risk of being slightly UK centric ...
Rafe: Nothing wrong with that.
Rafe: Don't apologize.
Ben: Everybody wants to be British, really, even people who aren't. Sky Q, tell us about Sky Q?
Rafe: It's a much more flexible system from the sort of big satellite broadcaster here in the UK and the idea is essentially to be able to watch your Sky content in any room, any TV, any device anywhere.
Ben: Wait a minute, isn't this just a new box, I mean look at it, it's just a new set top-box isn't it?
Rafe: It is a new set top-box and that's at the heart of the system and essentially it then allows you to take content that's sitting on that box or has access through that box and watch it on any screen in your house. I think the bit that's interesting perhaps through us is also anywhere on a mobile device and so some of the constraints that we've been talking about kind of disappear with the system and they're using some clever technology to do it. You can see lots of the cues coming from elsewhere. There's a new controller that has a touch surface on it that reminds me right back to the Apple TV, but obviously developed in parallel.
Ben: The thing that confuses me about this is, I can see it's going to be a sort of interim step for mass consumers, I'm sort of surprised that they haven't just moved to full on streaming, because what they're doing is, they're making the DVR and the set top-box the hub and they're allowing you to buy like smaller set top-boxes to go around your house and they can all share that content on the hub. Actually that one something really clever there. It has its own wireless mesh network, but it also uses Power Line for that as well and it will mix those signals in whichever to do the best mesh. There's some really clever stuff in there, but it seems to be ...
Ewan: Does that mean you can't use your own Power Line? Because I use that a lot you see.
Ben: I don't know.
Rafe: You can I believe, it's sort of ...
Ewan: It's multi, multi-platform.
Rafe: That's why it's got everything, it's trying to make the experience and the setup so it just works.
Ben: That's great but I'm slightly surprised that they're not just saying, "Here's an account, here's apps for every single thing you own already, on your tablets, here's a bunch of set top-boxes that plug in like the Now TV's that you were talking about. 20 Pounds or I mean, what are the cheapest you can buy Chrome Cast for, 15 pounds? When it was on the sale or whatever?
Rafe: I think it comes back to the experience, we were talking earlier about the pain involved in downloading and also there is kind of a bandwidth crunch here. We've made the assumption streaming that everyone has access to good connectivity and that certainly isn't the case. We've heard that from our listeners in rural areas and places like that. Also, I think there's still that ability to just pick up and watch TV that's being broadcast and a lot of people do like that ability to just sit back, and channel hope and so I think this hybrid approach, we've talked about this before, kind of hybrid or mixed mode systems, seems to be the thing that appeal most, because it allows consumers to use it in whichever way they want and it takes away as many constraints as possible. Now I'm sure some people in this system, will use some sort of Ewan-style basically on-demand a much as possible without using much of the broadcast technology. We talk about importance of streaming and you can talk about the stats around there being 700 million minutes per week of viewing in ...
Ben: Good Rafe facts there.
Rafe: In the UK and we talked about Netflix earlier, actually it's still in the minority by a long way compared to broadcasting, depending on the figures you look at, it's 95%, 5%. You've just got to remember that broadcast is a much more efficient way to get the data into people's homes and that's going to remain the case for a while and even when you do have the capacity to do it, doesn't mean it's the best way to do it.
Ben: I was looking at the Apple TV and I was thinking, because it's not unique but the Apple TV lets you type in the name of a show and it will show you all the places that you can get that show from, so all the service providers ...
Rafe: That's very, very smart.
Ben: What it means is that you're no longer ... My frustration at the moment is you have to know which provider provides the content and then you have to go to that box or that app.
Ewan: My wife and I, we're like encyclopedias [inaudible 00:33:58] because my child will say "I want to watch 'Blah'." Okay, what is that on? Amazon? And they're in no condition to go "No, it's on Apple."
Ben: Of course, the problem is that some of that content is in lots of places and you have to remember the one where it's either best or cheapest.
Ewan: Netflix, via the Apple TV, but you can also get into the Netflix via the Amazon.
Rafe: So that discover issue is actually one that Sky has solves pretty effectively because it just gives you a search box and works across all of those things.
Ben: Of course, Sky only lets you look at their content catalog. It doesn't give you access to Netflix or Amazon or anyone like that, does it?
Ewan: No, it's true, but, I mean, the search will work across BBC, ITV, E4 and those kind of things.
Ben: It works for all the channels that they've got on their platform.
Ewan: It's a bit like the Apple TV in that respect.
Ben: The difference I was trying to make there was the being able to search across a program guide of broadcast television is quite normal now but being able to search across a catalog of recorded content that has sort of more metadata and history and it is possible. One of the issues that's come out recently is it's very well allowing all these apps, effectively, to surface their program guide and the pricing data so that you can say "Who can show me Dr. Who," for example, and you can get it from BBC iPlay, you can buy it through iTunes. You can probably ...
Ewan: Stream it from Amazon or whatever.
Ben: Yeah, you can stream it from Amazon. But then the challenge was now how are you going to do recommendations? Because that's actually where the value is normally in terms of either curated lists or recommendations. I'm kind of surprised to know that the platforms are actually allowing content providers to surface recommendations in the same ways that they surface content.
Rafe: Interestingly we should also probably touch around the fact that all of those require you to buy maybe as a one-off and actually part of the attraction of services like Sky and Netflix is you pay one monthly subscription and kind of get an all-you-can-eat model. I think for a lot of people that's actually part of the appeal.
Ben: Yeah. I can't remember the last time there was a piece of content I wanted to buy, because yeah, I'm going to watch a film once. Unless I'm paying to see it very, very early, then I do that grudgingly and rarely. I know people with walls of DVDs from back in the day. You know, "Look at my DVD collection." What a horrendous waste. How many of those do you love enough to watch regularly?
Ewan: Or you pay extra to watch cinema releases now, because I would pay. I just don't have the time to go, you see?
Ewan: All they're doing is irritating me substantially. Happy to give them the money, but I'm not going to go to the ... I'll give them the money later on when it becomes available.
Ben: Okay. One last thing before we wrap up and we're running out of time. Piracy. Right now, the best way to get access to high-quality ad-free shows from anywhere in the world from whichever provider you want, is people who Bit Torrent it and don't have the technical know-how or the risk appetite to do that. Actually, it's still very telling that getting a really good-quality service actually requires that you steal the content. I know many people who do that, not because they don't want to pay for the content. They would willingly pay for the content, but the nonsense of licensing and subscriber rights and that kind of stuff mean that it's to much of a pain.
Ewan: That's the underlying problem. It has everything to do with video in particular. It was an issue a little while ago, I think, with music, although I think ... I don't know of any of my friends that would illegally or pirate music now a days. I don't think that's a thing.
Ben: Very rarely, are releases [inaudible 00:37:22], things like that. Generally if an album comes out you can get it globally.
Ewan: You can either stream it or you can download it.
Ben: [inaudible 00:37:31] Now, if she hasn't released it on streaming services, but if you think about sort of the things that do come up through streaming or through iTunes, they're generally available worldwide on the same day. That's not the same with TV content, which is odd. It makes me think actually that the people who have got the real power here are the people who make this stuff, because now they can stream it themselves and sell it to you themselves directly much more easily.
Rafe: Why would they bother with a middle man?
Ben: Exactly. So, actually ...
Rafe: I think we're beginning to see that.
Ben: Yeah. Maybe the CBS deal we talked about earlier actually is the way forward that every organization is going to need to get good quickly at doing streaming.
Rafe: Or have a really good relationship with Netflix or Amazon because that's the brilliant thing. For the Star Trek thing, I'm not worried because I'm British. I.e. we don't have to worry about CBS. I presume that they won't make us subscribe to that. If we want to watch it they'll probably just license it to Amazon or Netflix.
Ben: If CBS follows the likes of Hulu and things like that you wouldn't be able to anyway.
Rafe: That's the point. I was assuming they would block me from watching it in America and they would block me also from paying for it.
Rafe: They would want to sell it to someone internationally.
Ben: Sky, probably, with the right ...
Rafe: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:38:40].
Ben: Okay, we should wrap up.
Ben: We should say some quick thank yous. Thank you to Emma Crass for our editorial assistance and thank you to Mark from AudioWrangler.co.uk who edits these episodes. Thank you very much for all your comments and feedback on the website at 361podcast.com. We're on twitter @361podcast. We're on Facebook but don't encourage them, and we will be back next week. We will see you soon. Bye bye.