There’s a lot of heated argument about whether watching online video is the same as TV or not. I’ve heard enthusiasts come almost to blows about the difference (or not) between “forward-leaning” watching – as toward a computer screen – and laid-back watching, as with couch potatoes lounging in front of a boob-tube.
And even with what appears to be “regular” television, it’s perhaps hard to remember – except when it takes forever to boot up – that modern-day set-top boxes have essentially turned our familiar TV set into a form of computer.
Now the market leader in at least one kind of media “convergence”, TiVo, is launching a new service that offers internet video. But it’s coming in such a way as it can be viewed on a normal TV.
TiVo’s Chief Executive Tom Rogers put it very clearly and simply when he said: “For an awful lot of viewers, video doesn’t become real TV until you can watch it on the television”. And so we have TiVoCast, the company’s new add-on service.
Subscribers who have TiVo’s Series2 digital video recorder with its inbuiltÂ broadband connection will (from June 7,2006) be able to access, at no extra charge above their TV connection fee, video clips from the National Basketball Association, the women-skewing Web firm iVillage Inc., the New York Times’ video services, and others.
Adding this new internet-delivery capacity is a perhaps overdue response by TiVo to the feisty outfit’s getting a lot of competitive pressure from big cable-providers like Time Warner and Cablevision, and from satellite services like DirecTV. For a while now these giants, stung by TiVo’s success, have been pushing onto customers their own versions of digital video recorders combined with their set-top or delivery boxes.
TiVo clearly wants to differentiate itself from its big conglomerate rivals, and if it can also hasten the day when the computer and the TV screen start fully to merge in our minds, so much the better (perhaps?) for everyone.