Personalized television. That's what ZillionTV, a new startup, is promising digital-media lovers.
On Wednesday ZillionTV announced its set-top service and agreements with major Hollywood studios, TV networks, and Visa. The service will offer entertainment, targeted and addressable advertising opportunities, and the ability for consumers to make secure purchases through the television.
"ZillionTV is building a new television ecosystem grounded in partnerships spanning from powerhouse TV networks and Hollywood studios to Visa and major advertisers," said Mitchell Berman, CEO of ZillionTV. "At the same time, we have built a business model where all parties benefit -- consumers can access an expansive collection of entertainment when and how they want; content providers gain a new digital distribution platform; and advertisers get closer to engaged viewers by providing relevant and addressable TV advertising."
On Demand with Targeted Ads
Still in beta, the ZillionTV service offers instant, subscription-free access to entertainment content from the libraries of Disney, 20th Century Fox Television, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. The content is available on demand and delivered directly to the television set via a common high-speed Internet connection from the consumer's Internet service provider (ISP).
Consumers pay a one-time service-activation fee and get a ZillionTV service and a motion-sensing remote control. Programs are selected through an on-screen interface that features multi-dimensional search to help viewers find shows by genre, actor, year, subject matter, and more.
ZillionTV content is streamed to the television set and viewers choose how they want to watch programs. They can watch ad-supported content for free, rent content for a nominal fee, or "buy to own" from some content holders. Viewers select advertising categories based on their interests and preferences.
The ZillionTV service allows advertisers to target audiences by geography, demographics, consumer preferences, and viewing behavior. ZillionTV said that results in guaranteed engagement, better brand alignment, and more comprehensive audience response reporting.
What's more, advertisers are no longer restricted to 30-, 60- or 90-second television spots. ZillionTV said a 30-second commercial is just as welcome as a three-minute, episodic video.
Some Potential Problems
Phil Leigh, senior analyst at Inside Digital Media, applauded ZillionTV's innovation because it offers an option of advertising-supported viewing and the company has managed to garner support from the major Hollywood studios. However, Leigh noted two potential problems with the fledgling service.
"ZillionTV only gets you access to limited content. Confessedly, they are going to provide the popular TV shows and movies that are made in Hollywood and other professional studios," Leigh said. "But it's still only providing limited Internet access at the TV and we believe that consumers will ultimately demand unlimited Internet access at the TV. We believe the TV itself will become a dual-function device and Internet access will become one of those functions."
As Leigh sees it, ZillionTV's service also puts net neutrality in the spotlight. ZillionTV, he said, is apparently going to get premium delivery over the ISP. In other words, the ISP is going to make more bandwidth available for ZillionTV than for others. That could cause some controversy with Apple and Amazon.
"The service will only be available through your ISP. The ISP gets a cut of all the revenue it develops," Leigh said. "It boils down to money."