One interesting debate i have been following recently is whether consumers will choose to download videos using their service provider's video-on-demand service or whether they will choose to download or stream videos from third parties, i.e., iTunes.   Generally speaking, this last option is often referred to as “over the top" because the service runs over the top of an existing broadband service and it not controlled by the service provider.

The real question I see service providers struggling with are whether consumers would be willing pay for the quality of service that comes with downloading video content from the service provider -- this could be their value add.  "Over the top" service providers believe they can offer a cheaper solution or better service, since they do not have to worry about providing the network and access. To take this a step further are companies like Sony, whose TVs will support direct internet connectivity, granting access to Sony's online store of movies and TV shows.

So will service providers have to go head-to-head with the consumer electronics giants such as Sony and Microsoft (Xbox live) in addition to “over the top" providers such as Amazon and Apple? One model of cooperation is the iPlayer channel offered by Virgin Media in the UK. Virgin Media is the major cable MSO in the UK and now offers a dedicated iPlayer channel enabling customers to watch all the BBC content available on iPlayer with the quality of a video-on-demand service and without impacting the customer's broadband Internet bandwidth. Time will tell whether this model of cooperation spreads.

What do you think?