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Film Studios, TV Networks Study Consumers

Many broadcast networks such as ABC, NBC, and the BBC are now making their hit shows available via broadband delivery to PC platforms. Few of these companies can answer the questions "How are current users accessing this content? What are they doing with it once it's in their hands?"

"Failure to collect and analyze data on consumers' patterns of usage poses risks for content owners," says Vamsi Sistla, ABI Research director for broadband and multimedia. "Consumers' habits have profound implications for content owners' strategies."

Once a video is downloaded onto a computer, is it watched only on the monitor? Is it transferred to a TV for viewing? Is it moved to a portable media player and taken on the road? Is it burned on DVD and put on a shelf?

Why does any of this matter? Because content owners can tailor their products and services, and form strategic partnerships, based on the answers. "Any time you try to nourish a new market," says Sistla, "it's critical that you identify the other entities that make up the value-chain. If you don't bring them up to speed with your technology, the chances are that your efforts will be wasted. Just because you have a great solution doesn't mean that the rest of the ecosystem is ready to take advantage of it."

Suppose a consumer uses a home office PC to download movies, and watches them right there on the monitor or burns them to DVD to be viewed on the living room TV. Neither method is really convenient. Another option: stream the movie from the PC to a TV that has a Wi-Fi media adaptor. And a third: use a "media center" PC that can be placed permanently beneath the TV and speakers. Perform computing tasks via a wireless link to a Wi-Fi-ready monitor and keyboard in the home office.

The opportunities are as varied as consumers' digital lifestyles. Networks and hardware vendors should design and market their products accordingly.

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