Sidereel: Your Dial Tone for TV
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video content: showing right now, for example, is a preview of new TV shows joining the midseason lineup, and the site is planning weekly news segments on individual shows like the CW’s Gossip Girl.
Sidereel competes in the entertainment guide sector with TV.com, Fancast, and Clicker. But TV.com is owned by CBS, and Fancast was recently absorbed by Comcast’s Xfinity. So neither site points users to as many Internet-accessible shows as Sidereel or its Los Angeles-based competitor Clicker (which lags well behind Sidereel in the Web traffic statistics).
Clearly, companies like Apple, with its recently revamped Apple TV appliance and its large catalog of TV shows on iTunes, are angling to provide the Internet equivalents of the DVR, that is, one-stop shops for Internet TV viewing, with new episodes available for rent or purchase as soon as they’re aired. In that world, there might not be a need for sites like Sidereel. But no one company has yet scooped up the licensing rights to every show on every network—and Arzhintar doesn’t think this will ever happen.
“There will continue to be chaos, for one reason: greed,” he says. “The content producers have figured out that through the purposeful stratification of license rights—‘windowing,’ they call it—they can make more money. So you are going to pay to watch at the movie theater, on cable, on Netflix, and on the iPhone and iPad and Android, and then you’ll buy the boxed DVD set.”
That means there will always be a need, he says, for an independent third party, a service that gets video consumers where they want to go. “Mark Pincus [founder and CEO of Zynga] has talked about this,” says Arzhintar. “He said if you look in the future, you should expect to have a dial tone for everything. Facebook is going to be the dial tone of what your friends are up to. Zynga is supposed to be your dial tone for games. It may be the apex of triteness, but Sidereel would like to be your dial tone for TV. Just pick it up, look for the information you want, and watch.”