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Author Topic: Media in the Future  (Read 6014 times)

JimH

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Media in the Future
« on: September 29, 2014, 06:17:23 pm »

In the last few years, we've seen a growing enthusiasm for online media, both private collections in the cloud, and services that deliver a broad selection.

JRiver has tried to accommodate this, but it's a big job.  We have to guess about what people will want, and then we have to piece it together from the widely varying sources available.  Each one is a fair amount of work to add, and then keep working.

So I'm asking for your help, your ideas, your observations.

Here are two separate threads.

Audio Trends

Video Trends

Please use those threads for specific ideas, and this thread for more general thoughts.

Thanks.

Warning: We're looking for media curators.
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JimH

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2014, 06:30:24 pm »

I'll offer my 2 cents on this.  We must continue to do what we do as well as possible, but we must expand it to include important online sources.  This needs to be done in a way that doesn't clutter the interface, but makes it very easy to start playing something.

I think we need help from people who are more knowledgeable about certain areas.  We're just developers making sharp tools.  It's a big world.

I'd like to have a few people who act as curators, helping find and develop great content.  In a way this is what glynor is doing for JRiver's TV.

Here's a topic for that:

Media Curators
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glynor

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2014, 06:44:04 pm »

Applies to both Audio and Video: Podcasts.
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jmone

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2014, 07:00:42 pm »

Good topic. 

I "think" the future will continue to see the abstraction of the location of where media is located...it could be on your hdd, your cloud, some cloud or services.  Long gone are my kids just browsing the local MC Library for stuff I have loaded previously, they now use other front ends to find content in an on demand, consume now paradigm. 

From MC's point of view it would be good to be able to be the front end aggregator for such search and also have the ability to then include this content in the library and use it's playback engine..... just like locally imported content.

As an example, I've given up trying to buy Top 40 Music Video on physical media (it just does not exist like with CDs), but they are readily and officially made available on sites like YouTube, Vimeo, even artist Websites etc.  The ideal would be good to be able to "right click --> import" these into my Music Video library & have an option to either import them as a "link" or "download and import" for offline playback. 

Thanks
Nathan
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RoderickGI

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2014, 10:24:11 pm »

I don't know how big your installed base is Jim, but if it is big enough and JRiver provided an API for plugins, maybe the media providers could be convinced to either develop their own plugins, or pay you to develop them.

That could be a model for all media sources, if you had the user base and were bringing significant incremental revenue to the providers.

But that may see you hit issues with DRM and licencing. Who knows.
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BartMan01

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2014, 11:13:58 am »

Applies to both Audio and Video: Podcasts.

I would say most of my media consumption today (from a time spent standpoint) is via Podcasts.  Since I use iOS devices, that means that MC is pretty much cut out of that loop entirely.

After that, Netflix and Youtube - both of which I use either the AppleTV (downstairs) or the XBox One or PS3 (upstairs), or the iPad (everywhere else) for - again cutting MC out of the loop.

When I listen to music 'on the go' it is from my iPhone using music stored locally (can't stream while sitting on an airplane), or played from the cloud (iTunes Match).

When I watch TV, I use WMC with extenders (some TV stations are encrypted so I go with the common denominator).

Times I currently use MC are:
Watching movies and archived DRM free TV shows at home.
Listening to music in the office.
Managing my media library (then exporting all music to iTunes for iOS and iTunes Match).

Everyone is setting up 'walled gardens' for content these days and it seems to be getting worse rather than better.  The content owners will continue to keep this the status quo until it comes crashing down around their head.  They (mostly) all see the writing on the wall, but are doing everything in their power to kick that can down the road until it is 'not their problem' when the industry shifts massively.  How things look when this next big shift happens is still very up in the air.

For now, everyone else has gone to the 'app' model.  If I want to watch Netflix, I use the app on one of my devices.  If I want to watch YouTube, I use the app on one of my devices.  If I want to watch/listen to podcasts, I use an app on one of my devices.  The app model gives a consistent UI to the content across devices and maintains the walled gardens.  Even when MC has support for these services, I still go to the app on another device for that consistent/full UI for that service.

I would say that 'content aggregation' is the biggest need, but with everyone fighting to keep things walled off and separate trying to aggregate today would be a mostly uphill and losing battle.


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kstuart

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2014, 03:03:43 pm »

JRiver Media Center represents an excellent solution to a very particular problem.

That problem concerns playback of digital audio and video files owned by the consumer.

I have to say that is a temporary situation that is going away.

Today's teens listen to music but do not buy individual tracks.

I recently came across this clearly written personal experience.  It really gives you a sense of other people's thinking about listening to music:

http://www.cnet.com/au/news/spotify-can-never-replace-my-ipod-but-it-ease-the-pain/

MrHaugen

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2014, 11:54:15 pm »

I originally wrote this in the curator thread, but it's better suited here.


I applaud the initiative. JRiver obviously see the importance in this, and that's great. Media consumption is changing in a huge way. Most people move to online sources, so it's incredibly important to stay up to date here. Even though JRiver undoubtedly have a lot of hardcore music and video loving customers that enjoy their local media. I believe even many of those users will be moving on to online sources for music and video, ad the quality of video and music becomes better and it's more and faster accessible across regions.

I'm just asking the question if this is the right way to approach this? Would it really pay off to have people working on this part or full time? Having more expenses doing this? More and more services to keep an eye on. Having the responsibility for it all working. Or could many of those issues simply be solved by adding more flexibility for the 3'rd party developers out there, to do it on their free time and their own dime? It would make the legal issues much simpler, if plugins was made of other people. Not supported directly by JRiver MC.

I'm pretty sure that support for services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Youtube etc, would be considerably wider with time, and probably better, if the users had more ways of creating plugins, and more options in the form of controlling the elements in the skin engine. This would not stop with online services.

Take a look at the plugin repository superrepo. There's a plugin for almost everything. What if we had something similar for JRiver? In my opinion, the competition would not stand a chance.
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rec head

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2014, 06:34:50 am »

I think the only way for MC to conquer all these services is to make hardware. As we have seen with Netflix making it harder for developers like JRiver in the past. I don't think MC can please the DRM requirements of all the services.

This isn't to say I think this is the way it should be but everything needing an app and DRM make it a requirement.
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6233638

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2014, 07:12:20 am »

Applies to both Audio and Video: Podcasts.
I still cant believe that with the level of YouTube integration Media Center has,  there still isn't podcast support for channel subscriptions.
 
That seems like a big deal, and shouldn't require that much work on top of what has already been done.
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JimH

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2014, 07:14:21 am »

I don't think MC can please the DRM requirements of all the services.
We have a lot of experience with DRM.  That wouldn't be an obstacle.  JRiver supports Windows Media DRM.  We also wrote a DRM system about 15 years ago.

The problem for us is more that there are so many standards to choose from, and that they are changing all the time.

One of the current market leaders, Pandora, has never earned a profit.  Will they be around when we finish supporting them?  I have a list on my desk of about 15 such leading services that no longer exist.  Most of them burned 10's of millions of dollars.  We can't do that.
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rec head

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2014, 07:35:01 am »

Jim, I hear you. That is why it will be so hard. I have given up on my One Interface to Rule Them All. When I started using MC I thought I was close but since then I probably use more devices and interfaces than when I started.

1-Chrome for Comedy Central
2-Chromecast for HBOGO
3-Xbox 1 for Netflix and Amazon (the Netflix app on the One is horrible)
4-MC for recorded TV bluray rips and local music
5-Bluetooth to AVR from phones (Android and Apple) for podcasts, streaming music and Audible.
6-Bluray player for 3D movies. I can't be bothered to use an external software player outside of MC and the standalone player I bought cost the same as a software solution and just works.
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connersw

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2014, 07:59:16 am »

I think the only way for MC to conquer all these services is to make hardware. As we have seen with Netflix making it harder for developers like JRiver in the past. I don't think MC can please the DRM requirements of all the services.

How does making hardware circumvent the issue?  You still run against the same challenges, along with the challenges of production.  Look at companies like Boxee and Popcorn Hour or even Dune HD.   These companies struggle in this market.  It's why larger, more diversified, companies like Logitech and WD have left the market--it was a massive money suck. 

Really making hardware (not just buying a PC, putting your software on it, and calling it something else), is a major change for a software company.  Large companies with scores of talented engineers and deep pockets have struggled to find a way to make it work (Microsoft, Facebook, even Google).  These are companies that can afford to have a division operate in the red for the extended short term, and they all have still left behind a string of failures. 
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rec head

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2014, 08:03:43 am »

I'm not saying that is what I want or even that is what JRiver should do but I think the distributors want to see a "box" because they hate to see content going into a PC. I have noticed lower quality on my computer than the Chromecast of the same content.
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Vocalpoint

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2014, 10:04:14 am »

I think the only way for MC to conquer all these services is to make hardware.

That is a dead end for us end users - no one wants a pile of little hardware boxes that will be outdated in no time.

As we have seen with Netflix making it harder for developers like JRiver in the past. I don't think MC can please the DRM requirements of all the services.

Regarding Netflix - I continue to find it fascinating that NetFlix works absolutely stellar via a software "app" on my iPad - yet completely sucks via MC.

Q: Is the Netflix app actually coded by Netflix? If so - why do they offer a nice experience to Apple and not to the rest of the world. Is it $$$ or something else?

VP
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mwillems

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2014, 10:13:38 am »

Q: Is the Netflix app actually coded by Netflix? If so - why do they offer a nice experience to Apple and not to the rest of the world. Is it $$$ or something else?

VP

There's a netflix app for windows 8 that works great, and the android app isn't bad either.  They offer no app solution for windows 7 and prior though.
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Vocalpoint

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2014, 10:24:56 am »

There's a netflix app for windows 8 that works great, and the android app isn't bad either.  They offer no app solution for windows 7 and prior though.

Kinda my point I guess. The "app" is the new king now and all work from the Netflixes of the world goes into these "apps" rather than allowing third party devs to use (or do) anything.

Which makes the point of trying to bring Netflix (or any audio/vid streaming content service for that matter) to something like MC all that much more moot.

Why would anyone even bother struggling with even trying to get Netflix going in MC when the Windows app (or iPad app in my case) works perfectly every time.

There is no way that MC (even with their killer dev cycle) could keep pace with app makers and the fancy stuff they are able to offer in seemingly no time at all.

VP
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6233638

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #17 on: October 01, 2014, 11:00:34 am »

Why would anyone even bother struggling with even trying to get Netflix going in MC when the Windows app (or iPad app in my case) works perfectly every time.
madVR image scaling and debanding, combined with Media Center's VideoClock feature can greatly improve the quality of low resolution/low bit-rate video.
 
Passing the audio through Media Center's audio engine allows you to use room correction and VST plugins to improve audio playback. (this should at least be possible with Loopback or a WDM driver)
 
There is no way that MC (even with their killer dev cycle) could keep pace with app makers and the fancy stuff they are able to offer in seemingly no time at all.
Ideally Netflix would release a plugin for Media Center, but I don't know if they would consider JRiver "big enough" to allocate those resources.
 
While I don't personally use Netflix, I think it would be a big loss if it's no longer supported.
A lot of people I know now use Netflix as their only source of Movies/TV content, with a few others also subscribing to Amazon video.
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mwillems

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2014, 11:07:16 am »

For my part, given that I can route audio with loopback (and the possibility of the WDM driver would make this even easier), I would be happy if JRiver had better integration for auto-launching external applications and then returning to theater view.  In most cases it's easy enough to script something on the user side, but that's a burden a lot of people aren't really interested in doing.

I use the netflix integration in mediacenter now, and when the API is finally shutoff, I will probably try to write a script to auto-launch the netflix app and/or a browser window, and then return to JRiver when finished.  But if I could check a box in the theater view options and get even that level of integration right now, I'd probably stop using the existing netflix integration in MC tomorrow, because it's obvious that netflix isn't maintaining the API (new stuff doesn't show up on time, etc.), and the app allows for more HD streams.  

A generic, easy to configure launcher-and-returner menu object (that could save and furnish credentials) would probably provide a rough solution for the majority of external app integration issues. As it is, certain parts of the handoff are a pain (credentials, and getting back to theater view at the end without a mouse/keyboard).
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JimH

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2014, 01:27:01 pm »

I split the Netflix discusson.
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MrHaugen

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #20 on: October 02, 2014, 02:31:25 am »

A little digression from the future, to the past.

In Norway, we were introduced to Spotify several years ago. I was about only one I knew of that were still maintaining my local database of music, while almost all the people I knew that listened to music regularly, had moved on to Spotify or Wimp. With the steadily increasing focus on high data usage mobile plans, I started using Spotify my self about two years ago. Now 6 years after the introduction to Spotify, I do not know of anyone that is not using such a service. If they like music, that is.

For video it's a different story. We have had access to a Swedish variation of Netflix for some years. But the selection and quality was so lousy, it was never a viable option. The last year, lots of stuff have happened in Scandinavia. Netflix came first, then HBO and others joined them. Lots of people, me included, have been heavily download and local video playback focused until this point. I still prefer this method, as the selection on a single service like Netflix is rather bad, compared to what you can get "free" in other places. Getting access to most of the content would also cost a lot, as there is no single service that offers "everything". That's a big problem with today's services.

Even with my preferences, I find my self looking at what I like on Netflix more than I use JRiver to access my content. Because it's a lot more convenient. Since my setup with couchpotato, sickbeard and sabnzbd stopped because of a malfunction 6 months ago, I have not downloaded a single media file. Of the 8-10 people I knew that downloaded stuff regularly, there are just 1 or 2 left that still does it actively. The rest have embraced Netflix, HBO and so on. EVEN though the access to a broad specter of video is limited, and quality is far behind what we now have with music alternatives.

I expect the was majority to move to online video streaming as the service and content improves. It's a pretty clear indication of where the market and the user masses are heading. There's no doubt that people want easy access to what they use the most. Streaming are already ruling over local media, and it's gonna get worse or better with time. Depending on your view.
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AndrewFG

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2014, 03:34:21 am »

I see the role of MC as the marshalling centre (MC geddit?)..

To be specific, there will be many different sources (such as public & subscription cloud sources, physical disk media, network folders, etc.) and there will be many different sinks (such as TVs, tablets, phones, DACs, players, amps, etc.). And you can expect that the multitude of possible combinations will be ever expanding, and each will have its own preferred media format too.

So the role of MC should be to read from (and interface to) all the sources, and write to (and command) all the sinks. Simple really.

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JimH

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #22 on: October 02, 2014, 07:14:55 am »

Simple really.
Easy for you to say...  but I do agree with your other comments.
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AndrewFG

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #23 on: October 02, 2014, 10:44:27 am »

Easy for you to say...

The strategy should always be something that is easy to say and easy to understand.. *)
Even though it is clear that the devil may be in the implementation details..

*) e.g. the strategy of Lego is "to sell a ton of Lego bricks to every child in the world"

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drmimosa

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2014, 10:13:18 am »

The Media in the Future series has a lot of interesting posts, thanks for starting the thread and to all who contributed so far. I have really enjoyed catching up to these over the last few days. A few thoughts here:

I think there is another trend as well.
I call it “why do I need a PC?”

To be more specific to MC, the question to ask might be "Why do I need a PC for media consumption?"

There might be many good answers to this question, and all would point to MC as a next step:

So the role of MC should be to read from (and interface to) all the sources, and write to (and command) all the sinks. Simple really.

However...Google has already accomplished this with Chromecast, and that's stiff competition. I dropped an HTPC out of my system a year ago because Chromecast had so many options (mlb, sportscenter, hbogo, pandora, JRiver Gizmo, etc... it's a long list) and was the closest thing to getting a full selection of available content providers I could find. Cost is smartphone (200-600 bucks) plus Chromecast (35 heavily subsidized bucks). It's easy to use, not as simple as a cable TV box but a lot simpler than a Windows HTPC.

Is future for MC still to become a media "hub" and the center of the "media wheel?" That's similar to the exclusive ecosystem strategy that every media provider tried over the past few years.  I know this has more or less been an explicit strategy at JRiver for several years, I was hoping to link to a picture Jimh had posted a year ago that shows a "Media Wheel" with a JRiver HTPC at the center but couldn't find it. None of the ecosystem attemts have been completely successful in the last four years, but now consumers have lots of apps and lots of hardware options. Roku, Redbox, Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, HDTracks, HBOgo, Amazon Prime, Pandora, mlb.com - None of these were around in 2008, just to keep things in perspective.

Instead, could MC continue to grow by exclusive appeal to top quality videophile and audiophile markets? Maybe instead of a media hub, MC is a top quality spoke made of high end titanium alloys that will bring your "media wheel" up to new speeds of travel and efficiency?

I'm guessing that's where the company's market growth has been over the last few years. I joined in 2010 on the computeraudiophile.com recommendation and endorsement, for example. MC isn't really the central nervous system of media in my system, but it's the best spoke on the wheel for sure.

Thanks for all the continued work at JRiver. I always look forward to see what comes next here, and really enjoy the annual state of the union and strategic assessments that are posted here on the forum. It has been very generous of JRiver to include so many of our opinions on Interact in the decision making process!


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JimH

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2014, 10:25:47 am »

Thanks for all the continued work at JRiver. I always look forward to see what comes next here, and really enjoy the annual state of the union and strategic assessments that are posted here on the forum. It has been very generous of JRiver to include so many of our opinions on Interact in the decision making process!
Thank you.  We rely on the breadth of knowledge and experience that you and others on the forum bring to the party.
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MrHaugen

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Re: Media in the Future
« Reply #26 on: January 29, 2015, 06:32:21 am »

*Gentle bump*

Have there been any more thoughts or conclusions on this subject? It's a subject of an very high importance for the majority of media users in my opinion. And one that I'm personally very much invested in. I would love to have it all in one place, but for now I have to switch between services every day.
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