I recently purchased a smart TV to watch movies that incorporates the new feature of built-in applications as part of the television interface. After downloading all video apps and giving each of them a try, I found that there is no difference between any of them.

After the addition of the television apps, I am now able to access new release content through Blockbuster, CinemaNow, VUDU, Amazon Instant Video, PSN and iTunes. Every option has a user interface that is easy enough to use and has comparable download speeds. Each provides multiple viewing quality options, gives me the ability to either purchase to rent or purchase to own, and all of the services have similar price points to access the content. None of them however, provide me with any messaging as to why I should choose their brand for movie rentals.

Even looking at subscription video services like as Netflix, Hulu, and bitbop, the brand messaging is non-existent there as well. The sales pitch is almost caveman-like: “You, Video, Watch.” The current dominance of Netflix is a result of the providence of first mover advantage and, with the competitive marketplace starting to grow, preference in the market can no longer be created by simpl existing in the marketplace.

These video streaming services (both pay-per-view and subscription based) must put a stake in the ground that defines their brands. Someone eventually will, leaving the rest in the dust. With the vast majority of the new competition consisting of entrants that entered the category just recently, there is great opportunity in building preference while the availability of key brand space is still unclaimed. The question is who will claim it first.