Back in April, as we were trying to get to grips with the fate
of Technicolor’s SmartVision IPTV middleware, Technicolor
could see we were not listening and pushed us back at its new
M-Go service in the US. It was all it wanted to talk about.
SmartVision was the past, OTT was the future and it was
Technicolor that owned the service, no one else. Now, in a one
line throwaway in a new press release out this week, the US-
led OTT service, a kind of cross between Netflix and Hulu, has
emerged not as a technology led service at all, but as a
partnership between Technicolor and DreamWorks Animation. We
know that it will launch in the US in the fourth quarter, but
we also know from our questions back in April that it will
come to Europe shortly after.
Now this has the potential to really become what Hulu never
could become, because M-Go is not shared across multiple
studios, but it has movie licenses from all the big guys with
the exception of Disney and Pixar, which either wants to mount
its own service or which is still married to the Apple cause,
because Steve Jobs’ estate is Disney’s largest shareholder.
Another thing not known before the recent spate of
announcements was that M-Go would be on tablets, just as much
as it is on smart TVs. When originally launched at CES in
January, the only signed deals were Samsung and Vizio TVs and
Blu-ray players. Now it is an app that runs on those, plus iOS
as well as Vizio and Samsung tablets. That last part was
predictable, but now it’s being said out loud: “not just
downloadable, but pre-loaded and the announcements include
that it will also be on Windows platforms,” both tablets and
Ultrabooks, via the Intel AppUp center. The app itself is
free, but that doesn’t mean that the content will be.
We know M-Go is not only about video and that games and music
were part and parcel of the initial announcement, but we also
know that the service comes with its advanced recommendation
system (it calls them recommender systems) of which there is
an abundance of research at the Technicolor Palo Alto labs,
and was probably created in-house.
This week M-Go has added content licensing agreements with its
new partner’s subsidiary, DreamWorks Animation SKG, as well as
with Relativity Media. We have to assume that it was this deal
that led to Dreamworks buying into M-Go and it will give
immediate access to “Shrek,” “Madagascar,” “Kung Fu Panda” and
“How to Train Your Dragon,” all addictive top rated children’s
videos. Added to that are Relativity’s “The Raven,” “Mirror
Mirror” and “Act of Valor.” The service is supposed to offer
both rent and buy, which means that Technicolor has worked out
how to secure major motion pictures on the devices (we’d be
keen to know how) and, in fact, it will also be available with
UltraViolet compatibility. But for our money, it is a
subscription service that will bring in the largest amount of
revenue, and perhaps that will come.
It is only a couple of weeks since M-GO signed with
NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Home
Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Brothers
Digital Distribution for what it calls day and date new
release films (so is that 28 days ahead of Netflix?), catch up
TV and back catalog film and TV shows. More deals will be
announced in the run up to launch.
Much of the early work for the M-Go apps came out of a device
called MediaNavi, which has a proprietary method of navigating
content on a handheld device, and MediaNavi as a device, was
shown at a variety of shows and won a great deal of awards for
its originality over the past 18 months.
At launch the services were going to be on Samsung and Vizio
TVs which have something approaching 40% market share of TVs
shipped in the US.
Technicolor has also said that M-Go or MediaNavi function will
be embedded in all of the set tops it ships, which will allow
hybrid OTT additions. Technicolor has set top customers all
over the world, including major players in the US and right
across Europe. We are fairly sure that all the content deals
have been negotiated for both the US and Europe, and perhaps
globally, and that a second wave for M-Go will be a series of
European launches, some with existing pay TV operators, some
Intel said this week at the Intel Developer Forum in San
Francisco, that M-Go would be a preloaded app on new
touchscreen Intel–based Ultrabook device available in the
This article appeared in Faultline.