Rogers just announced their next generation set top box and whole home PVR service called NextBox 2.0. There are a lot of very compelling features that many some people are now used to having with services like Boxee, AppleTV and FibeTV from Bell. Rogers is using the Cisco set top boxes, which is the newly minted Scientific Atlanta acquisition from several years back. Hinted at selling the full set top box business, Cisco reiterated to their support for this product line. Good for Rogers -- you would not want to offer the next generation set of hardware on a product line that is on its death bed.
The features are as follows:
- a PVR with a 1TB hard drive to record hundreds of hours of content
- watch TV on any TV in your home, live or recorded
- Start watching on 1 TV show, finish on another TV or Tablet
- Rogers Live TV allows you to use your tablet to stream many of the channels on an iPad or Android tablet
The review after the break...
1. The pricing is absolutely insane: the Diamond package costs over $5000 for a 2 year term. Seriously? That's more than a lease on a Honda Civic! And a full tank of gas to get you to work. Of course the "Unlimited" Internet package is bundled, but more on that later. The other packages are cheaper but still will amount to at least $120 per month in fees, and include paltry 70GB download caps.
2. Rogers Live TV is only available on your Rogers Internet service. It runs over wifi of course, but only when you are on your home network. So, you take your mobile tablet to a Starbucks that runs Bell Internet? Sorry no go. This is the most mindless (and artificial?) limitation I have ever seen on any digital service. Dear Rogers, the word mobile means more than just the confines of your home wifi hotspot. This feature, while seemingly ultracool, is dead on arrival especially if you consider many of the content providers like GlobalTV, CityTV and CBC offer their content on apps already on the iTunes App Store.
3. These features are too little too late for the informed TV watcher. These capabilities are ALREADY available to just about anyone with a home NAS, a good digital entertainment adapter like an AppleTV or Boxee or Roku. Add an over the air antenna and you're pretty much good to go for most content that most people watch anyways - the major US and Canadian TV networks.
And now about that weak, bundled Internet service Rogers is offering on everything but the Diamond plan. Rogers knows that the Internet is being used to deliver all sorts of content you normally pay for on their cableTV network, legally and otherwise. To Rogers, the pipe seems to now be a feature of their cable TV offering.
That is simply not the case, and most consumers know it. A reliable, fast Internet connection is way more important than the 500 channel universe to most. But Rogers doesn't seem to think so. Their bundle gives you an insignificant cap to limit your Internet usage. This is very surprising because only the $2500 per year Diamond package offers unlimited Internet.
So this is what it boils down to: You are going to be paying Rogers through the nose for the best cable TV experience, or else. It is surprising to me that Apple would negotiate with a content provider like Rogers at all -- Rogers is not interested in Apple making 1 red cent, of that I am pretty sure. And Rogers is all about ensuring that tier captive customer base continues being served by them in the way that Rogers wants. In many ways, they are like Apple but I am not sure they care about the customer experience at all.
When Apple eventually ships an interactive TV, I would imagine you're going to see content providers (all the networks and sports leagues) switch to getting revenue streams directly from Apple for live and recorded archived content. Just like music, the content providers while very deliberate right now, have no real choice in the matter. The future is complete dis-intermediation with the content providers selling media of all kinds directly to consumers through the next media giants of the world with Apple leading that pack.
Just do the math:
a. Pay $2500 per year for Internet and TV to Rogers.
b. Or pay up to $1000 per year for 25Mbps+200GB Internet (or less) and use as much as the remaining $1500 to spread around buying a la carte content from Apple?
There is a c. but I am not going to describe what that looks like. Just let's say it is a lot less than $2500 per year.
Apple knows that a la carte pricing in iTunes works really well at milking small dollar amounts out of their customers. It's the "Starbucks-latte" approach of paying for content. Apple (and the content providers) see the dollar signs in their eyes. Splitting $1500 (or more) between Apple and the Content providers per customer would be a huge windfall. And the pirates would be held at bay, because the Apple experience with content might just be really worth it to keep the torrents to a minimum. And even Rogers wins because they can continue selling the pipes, probably holding us hostage to exorbitant fees as well, but hopefully not.