Anyone Can Be A Broadcaster - Can't They ?

The UK is fast becoming the most competitive content market in the world. It's the front line where online services are concerned.

The Dixons Retail Group, owners of the pretty much the only shops left selling technology in the UK have now launched an on demand video service based on one off rentals. This is a sensible move, since they still sell a decent proportion of devices from laptops to TVs in the UK, and can populate these with their service.

But now we have the hardware guys - Samsung and Sony are both preparing services and NDS has tried to launch a consumer proposition; the retailers - Currys, Dixons and, soon, the massive Tesco supermarket chain, will be running on demand services.

Of course, we already have Lovefilm and Netflix, as well as the offerings from traditional broadcasters. And YouTube and Facebook both have plans in this area.

So, as you sit down after a hard day's work in Bromley or Bromsgrove, what do you do and who will win ?

Well, I suspect that the traditional players will keep niches, but will fail in the big picture since only two categories of content count - movies and sports. Of course, Sky has a dominant advantage in sport, but has always failed to capitalise in the movie segment due to having to deal with competitors. However, the HBO/Sky Atlantic move was inspired by a company that never fails to take one's breath away.

Lovefilm now has huge leverage via Amazon and is finally sorting out its technology, so will do well, in my opinion. Netflix, an unknown brand in the UK will rack up losses before pulling out of the market.

The propositions from Samsung and Sony will fail because these are, essentially, hardware guys trying to play at content (and, yes, I know the range and capabilities Sony have, but they are the world's most dysfunctional company so this won't help.)

Controversially, I think YouTube will fail, but Facebook will succeed, since Facebook starts with a clean slate and YouTube is still seen as skateboarding dogs territory, despite their new channels, and what value on that viral, social effect thing, which Facebook owns.

All of this is great news for rights owners, who will play one player against another, and I suspect that more and more of the 'new broadcasters' will seek to become content owners and aggregators, and some very interesting business models will evolve in the space between content production and distribution.