Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The set-top box Tower of Babel

A company called Dyyno is offering to create your own channel for the Roku set-top box, or you can run your video content on their existing channel. If you want your own channel, they'll charge a one-time fee of $7,500, plus a monthly usage fee starting at $149 for 1,000 viewer hours. If you're willing to run your content through their channel, you'll pay only the monthly usage fee.

Roku has its own developer program, which costs nothing to join, and its own SDK. If you've worked with JavaScript, you can probably figure out how to create your own channel without paying $7,500 and being locked into a single online video service. However, once you've developed your Roku channel, it won't work on Boxee, Popbox, TiVo, Google TV, or any of the myriad Internet-connected Blu-Ray players and HDTV receivers. Each one of those platforms has its own SDKs, and each one requires a separate development effort.

That's why I developed the Capstan Content Syndication (CCS) format. CCS is a free, open source, XML-based format that does for live, scheduled and on-demand video content what RSS does for fixed content. It also provides the hooks necessary for authentication, monetization, search and recommendations. If the set-top box companies support CCS, content providers will be able to use the same feed and format for a variety of different devices and platforms. It will dramatically decrease the cost of making video content available, and will get many more channels onto many more devices.

I'll be presenting a session on CCS at the Open Video Conference, to be held at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City on October 1st and 2nd of this year. There's more information on CCS at the Klemfarb website, and you can download the spec and participate in the definition process at the project's Google Code site.
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