By Greg Sandoval, AP Technology Writer | August 12, 2005
SAN FRANCISCO --Add TiVo Inc. to the list of companies trying to wed
the Internet to television. The digital recording company will soon
allow customers to download TV shows to their set-top boxes via the
Internet -- even before the shows air on TV.
TiVo has struck a deal with the Independent Film Channel to transmit
several of the cable channel's shows through a broadband connection as
part of a trial program. Participating customers will begin receiving
the shows next week, said TiVo spokesman Elliot Sloane.
Sloan confirmed that TiVo sent messages to its customers -- later
posted on the technology Web log Engadget.com -- offering to transmit
three IFC shows beginning Aug. 19, before they aired on the cable
Content on demand has long been a holy grail for Internet and cable
companies as they hunt for the next generation of television. No one
yet has found a way to overcome the considerable technological
hurdles, such as finding a speedy way to pump two-hour movies through
broadband, or convince Hollywood that its content won't be pirated and
that it can profit from Internet broadcasts.
Still, Internet connections are picking up speed and moving closer to
a reliable delivery method for broadcast-quality video. Should the day
come that video is downloaded at the touch of a button, some
stakeholders foresee a vast video universe of endless variety.
TiVo has offered its 3.3 million customers a form of
watch-what-they-want, when-they-want-it luxury since it launched in
1997, but the service remains restricted to broadcast schedules, and
customers must program their set-top box to record shows.
Right now, fans of the spy drama "Alias" must wait until weekly
episodes are broadcast on ABC. Conceivably, an Internet broadcaster
could strike a deal with a studio to offer customers a season's worth
of shows at once.
The question is, why would any studio with a hot show want to hand
over its content to TiVo?