Overhyped ZillionTV Effort In Trouble?
Company supposedly lays off staff members...
Remember back in March
when countless bloggers and journalists were over-hyping
a service known as ZillionTV? The idea behind the new new set-top broadband video service was that they were going to partner with ISPs, who were going to distribute the video set top for them. Kind of lost in all the hype was the annoying fact that most ISPs offer TV service themselves, and few if any wanted to erode those revenues. The service also really didn't seem all that interesting, nor did it bring anything particularly new to the crowded broadband video table.
Last month the company announced that despite $18 million in funding, it was postponing a planned fall 2009 deployment until sometime in 2010. Maybe. The company also announced that it was going to try to offer service directly to consumers, given the whole "partnering with mega-carriers who already offer TV" idea (who could have predicted?) wasn't working out so well
The company had expected to offer the service exclusively through local phone-service providers, but it will now also offer ZillionTV directly to consumers where it doesn’t have a telephone-company deal. "Once we got in discussion with the telcos, we learned that we can’t cover the country with the speed that we want," Mr. Berman said.
According to a blog post
from one-time ZillionTV employee Brandon Wirtz (you may remember him from a bizarre uncapping story we did back in 2002
about his run-in with the FBI and the Block Empire of Toledo), about a third of the company's staff were laid off this week, Wirtz telling us many of them were at his house updating their resumes. Wirtz gives numerous reasons for the company's troubles in his blog post, most of which center around management making promises to ISPs (like free set top funding from Visa or major studio deals) that never materialized.
We've sent inquiries to ZillionTV, and will update this post with any additional information they provide.
Re: Ob Net Neutrality Angle Which explains why they needed to partner. I was wondering about that, as I missed the original story about them earlier this year. I mean, Netflix streaming works just fine without any kind of traffic shaping, but I guess that's because they're using decent hardware.
But, IMHO, independent IPTV (independent of the ISP/telco/cableco) can work if you have the content people want to watch. And, also IMHO, that content doesn't need to be first-run stuff. I'd gladly get a box if I could get, say, a channel showing old sci-fi and horror films or a foreign news channel (Newsworld International or BBC World or BBC News24). Or a classic cartoon channel showing stuff from the '30s and '40s. Give me interesting content, and I'll bite.