Tuesday, November 14, 2006

TiVo Integrates Internet Video...

Two articles caught my eye this late morning. The first is a New York Times report on how TiVo will soon allow people to use its digital video recorders to watch some video programming from the Internet on their televisions. In other words, when TiVo releases its next generation of set-top boxes, you will be just as able to record and play YouTube and Google Videos as you currently are able to do with traditional television shows.

The second article, a blog by Dave Zatz, describes the new strategy for how TiVo plans to do it... through peer-to-peer file trading. Under the guise of sharing home movies, the idea is that rather than burning and mailing DVDs, "friends and family will now be able to set up their own private channel to send home videos directly to a TiVo subscriber's TV set".

So a few observations. For starters, TiVo's push to integrate internet videos into its service clearly demonstrates just how quickly the convergence of television and the internet is taking place. Within five years, there will hardly even be a distinction between the two. Plus, it offers hope to decentralize the media market as smaller video podcast creators will now have just as much access to people's televisions as do Seinfeld reruns and big-time network programming. The small guy comes out a winner, as do the rest of us who simply watch TV and will have far more variety.

Also, the peer-to-peer delivery system sounds terrific! That is, if it will actually work. It sounds like they're trying to make a private BitTorrent type of network exclusively for sharing videos, which might function more efficiently in technical terms, but would also undoubtedly open the floodgates for the uncontrollable peer-to-peer sharing of all types of videos (not only home movies). Even TiVo must realize and get a good laugh out of saying that the P2P system will only be used for legal home movies, rather than become a vehicle for mass piracy.

Not that I'm complaining. In fact, I hope this type of thing really does catch on in a big way. I just wonder why the same type of thing can't be tried for music and audio trading as well.


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