> The Price of Entertainment….

The Price of Entertainment….

Posted on Sunday, January 9, 2011 | No Comments

In my previous blog post I touched on the topic of entertainment in the living room in the future; Microsoft wants us to put an Xbox in our living rooms, Sony wants us to have a PlayStation, Sky wants us to have their HD and satellite services, Freeview wants us to put their box underneath our television sets, LoveFilm wants use to take their subscription services, Spotify wants us to stream their music and a bunch of other services are all vying for our attention and our money.


Bringing all of these services together could end up costing you an absolute fortune; lets review real quickly:

  • Xbox Live - £30 a year
  • Sky - £52 a month, for the full TV package
  • LoveFilm - £13.27 a month (most popular package)
  • ESPN - £9 a month

Already that’s £76.77 a month!  Not including any pay-per-view content or additional extras such as console/online gaming.


My question is, who can afford to spend that much money per month only on in-home entertainment?  And that’s not even taking into account the purchase of DVDs, CDs/MP3’s and movie tickets when you want to go out and see the latest films.


This article came about because Microsoft want to make the Xbox *thee* device that sits in our living rooms.  I’m still stuck in limbo trying to work out whether my Xbox or my Windows Media Centre PC should be the device in my living room and which should be banished to the bedroom (the Media Centre currently has my living room, because it does TV recordings too), but what if I did want to swap them over?


First of all, I’d need to get my Xbox Live membership, which I don’t currently have – so that’s a cost that I have to absorb even if I already have Sky, LoveFilm and any other subscription based services.  Now, don’t get me wrong, Microsoft need to make money somehow and the £30 they ask for per year (making it only £2.50 a month), is a small amount of ask to access their content – but what if I don’t want their content?  I don’t have any choice in that. 


But picking and choosing content is not what Xbox Live is all about, but in my mind it should be about more.  Why aren’t Microsoft partnering with these subscription companies and pulling all of their services together into a single, lower cost subscription cost?


If Microsoft could half the cost to £38 a month, for streaming TV content, movies on demand, music on demand and online gaming, I could guarantee that a lot more people would go out and purchase an Xbox and give it pride of place within the living room and become thee entertainment hub for the whole family.


Do I think it’ll happen though?  No, not yet – why?  Because people seem happy to pay these costs to these various companies – and to Sky and Virgin Media who are already doing their own thing in this space and are equally desperate to sign you up as a customer and take your money. 


Whilst Sky and Virgin are good at what they do, what they aren’t good at by comparison is software and using software to expand their content beyond their own in-house developed set top boxes.  Microsoft are good at software – as are Apple and Google – and its these companies that need to partner up with the content providers and combine the whole experience together into something customers really, really want (we customers want everything by the way; on-demand, mobile, cool user-interfaces, etc). 


Streaming content is going to be the big thing this year – Apple and Google TV emerged in the latter part of last year and it’s only going to get better and more predominant this year.  The cable companies are going to panic and flounder and block content as they attempt to swat off these big software companies – just as the record companies did before with music making the move to the Internet. 


I’m happy for these software companies to break these barriers down – whether they partner with the existing players or they force their way in, I’m none too bothered, but bringing that price down has to be the key to all of this.


Lets hope they can do it.

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