The Washington Post

Senate hears about online video and lots of brand placements, too

Executives from tech giants Amazon and Microsoft talked about the importance of free TV (read our story), net neutrality and concerns about data caps by carriers during a Senate hearing Tuesday on the future of television.

And they did a lot of product marketing, too.

Amazon’s vice president of global public policy, Paul Misener, held up a leather-encased Kindle Fire tablet for members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to gander.

And to the potentially thousands of viewers watching via live streaming video, he said:

Although we recognize that our customers want to watch a variety of high-quality video content at affordable prices from the comfort of their homes” (read: through Amazon), Misener said. “We also realize that they are on the move, and thus they want access to digital video not just anytime, but also anywhere.”

Microsoft touted its XBox gaming console, which can access online video. In the future, consumers will be able to use a slew of Microsoft technology to easy find videos on demand, the firm said.

Other examples: Microsoft’s voice recognition software will allow a user to ask for an episode of “Mad Men” that the company’s Bing search software will serve up.

And in case you “Bing” it incorrectly when searching for ways to buy the device online, Microsoft’s vice president of media entertainment offered some help.

It’ll all be accessible through “Kinect. That’s spelled K-I-N-E-C-T, not like connect,” Blair Westlake said.

The hearing was the Senate’s first close look at the what’s behind the super fast transition away from free television and paid television services toward online subscriptions and a la carte videos.

Representing the old vanguard of media, IAC/InterActive chairman Barry Diller didn’t dwell on the past. The future, he said, is in online video and the ubiquity of broadband Internet, adding that when most Americans are online, they will have a breadth of choices beyond their broadcast and cable services.

Diller pointed, of course, to examples like his own firm, Aereo — which is being sued by networks for copyright infringement. Diller has invested more than $20 million in the New York-based upstart.

And just so you know how much that service costs and what it does:

For $12 a month, Diller said, Aereo “provides its members with its own antenna capability of viewing high-definition broadcast.”


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FCC spectrum auction to fund payroll tax

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.



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