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ZillionTV Offers On-Demand Streaming TV Box, But Only Via ISPs

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the you-must-use-this-eye-of-sauron dept.

Television 57

MojoKid writes "Similar to Roku and Vudu, ZillionTV relies on a set-top box that attaches to your TV. The ZillionTV Device connects to your home router via a wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection. It requires a broadband connection that is at least 2.7Mbps or faster. ZillionTV claims that it will have 15,000 titles available by the end of this year from content providers, including 'Disney, 20th Century Fox Television, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.' While Roku and Vudu are essentially available to anyone who has a broadband Internet connection and who is willing to purchase a device, ZillionTV will not be quite as easy to get. Instead of making the device and service directly available to consumers, ZillionTV will only be available (at least initially) through Internet service providers."

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Or you could read a book. (-1, Troll)

Noodles (39504) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080651)

Nothing good on TV anyway.

Re:Or you could read a book. (0, Offtopic)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081351)

My Name Is Earl [] is on tonight.

Re:Or you could read a book. (1)

yog (19073) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082987)

Good point. I don't even own a TV. But I do like watching some shows from time to time, when I choose to and not just during a broadcaster's arbitrarily chosen time slot. My "prime time" is most people's sleepy time.

I just wish the major networks would get it together with internet broadcasting. Out of the big four websites (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX), so far I have found that only CBS webcasts are even playable on my linux computers. The rest just sit there, trying to load some DRM-encumbered IE plugin or something. Why can't they be more like Youtube, simple, works well at low bandwidth? I'll put up with commercials in return for the convenience of watching shows whenever I like. There are a few good shows on the air.

As it is, I generally will check out a full season from the library or Netflix, watch'em all over a few days, and return it. Done. But web casting would obviously be simpler and more convenient.

An enterprising, forward thinking network should have long since thought of putting all their shows on the web, paid for with commercials and online ads, and they would just dominate. Youtube and its ilk might not even exist if it weren't for the near absence of the traditional entertainment networks from the internet. My siblings, friends, and I used to just sit in front of the TV for hours and hours, watching one syndicated show after another. Today they could be doing the same thing, but they're not... why?

A box on top of my (nonexistent) television? I don't think so. It's just not the 'net lifestyle that I (and probably quite a few others) would prefer.

Re:Or you could read a book. (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#27085845)

But I do like watching some shows from time to time, when I choose to and not just during a broadcaster's arbitrarily chosen time slot. My "prime time" is most people's sleepy time.

Gee, it's not like many of us have been doing that for *decades* now. (With VCRs, then many of us with DVRs of some sort.)

Then I hope they like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080661)

not having any customers!

Re:Then I hope they like (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081229)

They'll have tons of customers, I'm sure...

The "real" internet will finally be returned to us nerds.

Wow, nothing to offer *AND* hard to get! (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080691)

Please God, tell me it's not too late for me to invest in your company!

Re:Wow, nothing to offer *AND* hard to get! (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080937)

Please God, tell me it's not too late for me to invest in your company!

I dunno, Hulu worked out pretty well after all. Whoa. Scratch that. ;-)


Re:Wow, nothing to offer *AND* hard to get! (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082099)

Please God, tell me it's not too late for me to invest in your company!

I dunno, Hulu worked out pretty well after all. Whoa. Scratch that. ;-)


If you think about it, maybe this one was why the content providers all wanted to put the hulu-genie back in the bottle with the whole Boxee proscription. They were about to roll out their own proprietary box.

Re:Wow, nothing to offer *AND* hard to get! (1)

freastro (1103067) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081557)

Please God, tell me it's not too late for me to invest in your company!

Wait... God has a company? What's he doing in the content distribution business?

Re:Wow, nothing to offer *AND* hard to get! (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081863)

Isn't that what God is all about? You know, intellectual property. I heard he's not really into the physical possessions thing. Or was that Jesus?

Re:Wow, nothing to offer *AND* hard to get! (1)

mindwhip (894744) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082081)

It is part of a PR stunt to boost his own popularity. Unfortunately it was already destined to die before it was born.

Brilliant (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080707)

It's a box, and you connect it to the internet via a router, and you can watch movies and stuff on it.

I never even dreamed such a thing could exist!

Re:Brilliant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27081383)


In fact I have had their deive in a better form than even their next iteration of it for over a year now...

XBMC live + + RSS HD podcast reader, etc...

I get more than they will ever offer, a better UI then they will ever create on hardware that can give me crystal clear 720p and UPSCALE 480i to look fantastic.

Oh and no DRM, no lock in the platform is 100% open AND it supports real Fast Forward, rewind, remembers where I last left off, etc....

Their product is utter crap. Just like all the ones before it and all the ones after it. XBMC kicks the utter living crap out of Windows Media Center and even the Beloved AppleTV.

Why no company can give us a media box that can even hold a candle to XBMC is beyond me.

But if its' not XBMC, it's utterly a pile of steaming bovine feces.

Re:Brilliant (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081849)

You know, if you told me three years ago that such a device would ever be available, I would have scoffed at your futurist notions. It's amazing to think just how much pirate sites like TV-links have accomplished since then.

The day of revelation came for me when my (decidedly non-techie) friends started using TV-links and sites like it, en-masse. I was quite stunned. Not at the concept, but at the uptake. I should have learned from bit-torrent not to underestimate the common user, but I did it again. The uptake has been massive, and it's not coming fisrt from geeks or technical people. This is a grassroots revolt. Almost everyone under 30 with a desktop or laptop uses these sites regularly to watch the programs they want, on demand. The entire concept of waiting a week for the next episode is almost alien to them by this point.

It stunned me, and continues to stun me, just how popular things like XBMC and Boxee have become. This is not like Napster and the music industry, or bit-torrent and the video industry. This is happening way, way faster, and the television industry is going to be blown out of the water by this one. Most TV networks have no idea and no experience of a consumer revolution, and even if they did, I'm not sure if they will be able to react in time.

TV networks need to act fast if they don't want to be left completely behind. They need to buy up one of these set-top box companies and start their own service pronto. personally, I don't think a single network will be able to act in time. I foresee syndication companies simply cutting out the TV middle man and starting their own services, selling directly to subscribers. At least when it comes to weekly shows and the like.

People are moving to TV on demand whether the industry likes it or not.

Re:Brilliant (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27084379)

To counter your anecdote I've never met another person who's worked out how to hack an xbox and put XBMC on it... that's pretty a pretty techie thing to do. The most complex thing a non techie does sometimes is view programmes with their browser on iplayer, and that's a *long* way from being a primary source of viewing. The younger ones are able to figure out bittorrent but download limits make downloading video over it unfeasable anyway.

Set top boxes that played IP TV have been mainstream for ages - the biggest ISP in the country here sells just such a service (except as usual the per-programme charges make it prohibitively expensive).

What ISPs? (3, Insightful)

fotbr (855184) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080717)

AT&T and Verizon are already pushing their own variety of IPTV.

The cable companies would rather you watch tv using their existing services (timewarner cable / comcast / etc)

Are there any big ISPs left that would even try to use this "ZillionTV" box as a way to get new customers or to get more money from their existing customers?

Re:What ISPs? (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081157)

Just wait 'til you find out what they will be charging for this thing... They may very well offer it as an add-on to existing cable subscribers, because nothing makes a content provider happier than tacking an extra $70 to your monthly bill for multiple copies of the exact same content.

Re:What ISPs? (1)

DarKnyht (671407) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081297)

Actually the cable companies are scrambling to find something just like this to stay alive. They understand that they cannot compete with free streaming like They are actively trying to lock content providers into exclusive deals so they can sell a set-top box just like this.

So I think they will have interested customers in Comcast, Charter, and Time Warner.

Re:What ISPs? (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082247)

The cable companies would rather you watch tv using their existing services

But you don't say why. They don't want you to have ala carte service for programming. They'd much rather sell you a package which includes two channels you do want and sixteen in a language you don't understand. They make significantly more money this way. Sure you get on-demand with them, but only because you've bought into their service packages.

Re:What ISPs? (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27083529)

I'm sure what you say is true, but I'm sure they also realize that 1000s of subscribers streaming Mbit/s will pretty soon eat their network (for everyone, not just the streamers). They see the need for control as well as the need for money grabbing.

Streaming will soon crap out if the network gets bogged down enough to drop packets, and that means to work well, streaming needs to be prioritized and that means bye-bye net neutrality.

What would you do if this were your private company's network and you wanted IPTV?... that's right, control the total amount of IPTV, work to get the network to support the limited IPTV you allow and prioritize IPTV over other applications.

otherwise everything will fail from overload

Re:What ISPs? (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#27083673)

Exactly. They realize this which is why they want to control the various kinds of media that come across, who they're coming from, how fast the throughput is, etc. They *know* that they're fast becoming out maneuverable from the common lay person--this is what net neutrality is all about: returning control back into their hands.

Re:What ISPs? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#27085761)

Are there any big ISPs left that would even try to use this "ZillionTV" box as a way to get new customers or to get more money from their existing customers?

Small, local ISPs that aren't owned by large corps?

Most of them have small service areas numbering in the thousands, but they probably serve a few million people combined in the States.

Re:What ISPs? (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 5 years ago | (#27095919)

Thus my question was "what big ISPs".

In my area, there's ultimately two residential ISPs to choose from. Time-Warner Cable and AT&T. Sure, there's other companies, but they're just re-selling service from those two at higher rates, and with all the TWC or AT&T baggage (caps, throttling, ever-changing-without-notice ToSs) still attached.

Re:What ISPs? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#27098297)

And if this company could hit up all of those small ones, it would be pretty damn good, wouldn't it? It's a viable strategy.

Re:What ISPs? (2, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#27085943)

You've missed the point. I submitted this article already, but they used another one with a different summary (which kinda sucks) and is probably why.

This is subscription free. Unlike Tivo and ReplayTV you are not paying a monthly subscription to use any of the apps on the device. Anybody can create a distribution channel on the device.

ISP's are going to offer the device initially for a small rental fee, just like any other set top box. However, there is talk of the device being for sale directly to consumers.

In exchange for providing quality content, major studios, television networks and independent content owners receive a cost-effective, quick and fully customizable distribution platform direct to consumers via the ZillionTV Service. Without any content constraints or limitations, the ZillionTV Service gives content owners more expansive access to viewing audiences and allows them to monetize their vast content libraries. And, as the ZillionTV Service eliminates the traditional concept of numerical channels, viewers no longer have to page through lengthy program guides. Instead, each network, and even every show, retains its own identity.

That's the advantage for the content owners. *Everything* becomes On-demand and it completely bypasses all the "timewarp" patents, as it is not a DVR. I assume, it is protected and DRM'd to all hell and back. You can watch anything you want, anytime you want. Movies, Music, TV-Shows, etc. Just click your desired app and browse the contents.

It's free but what's the catch?

Advertisers experience a revolutionary new way to ensure that viewers actually experience their advertising within an industry already hard-hit by the proliferation of ad-skipping DVR technology. The ZillionTV Service offers the most highly targeted form of interactive and addressable advertising by allowing viewers to watch content for free, while viewing ads from categories that they have personally selected. A key benefit to advertisers is that they only pay for actual ads viewed.

By opting in to view personally selected advertising with no fast forwarding allowed, the viewer actually earns rewards which can then be redeemed directly through the ZillionTV(TM) Remote Control. ZillionTV's innovative advertising model ensures that each ad is delivered to a receptive, captive audience, creating "zero waste" in media spends. This advertising structure also makes calculating a TV campaign's return-on-investment easier than ever before.

With a near 360-degree view of consumer behaviors and preferences, the ZillionTV(TM) Service provides advertisers with advanced, aggregated viewer data on overall viewing patterns and behaviors. Advertisers can also glean real metrics that link media spends to actual results, and link commercial viewing to purchase data.

There you go. No ability to block advertisements at all. It's targeted too. Absolutely no privacy left and TALK about the buttloads of MARKETING DATA. This is an advertisers wet dream.

The advertisers are the ones that paying for you to receive the service in exchange for a truly *captive* audience.

The ZillionTV Service shifts control of TV advertising to the viewer, empowering them to select the specific ad categories they want to watch. And by watching ads from personally selected categories that are meaningful to them, viewers can view their programming for free. Viewers can even choose not to see any ads, and instead pay a nominal per-program fee. The benefits of watching ads go beyond free service, however, as viewers earn reward points for each advertising-supported program they see or pay-per-view program they purchase.

Television commerce comes to life on the ZillionTV Service through two distinct differentiators. First, an exclusive Buy Now Button is featured on the ZillionTV(TM) Remote Control. Second, and equally powerful, is ZillionTV Corporation's partnership with Visa, the world's largest payment brand, to create a one-of-a-kind television commerce environment that will give viewers the power to purchase products directly from their television set.

The other shoe drops. It's not only advertising, but the ability to buy products immediately that you see in the content. Talk about immediate advertising response. Now the advertisers can show how effective they are simply by looking at sales at the moment. Not just them either. Content providers. American Idol can now show they can directly sell products without the advertisers.

The only saving grace is that the content providers *could* get paid a LOT more. I know I hate advertising with a burning hot passion of a million suns, so I would drop $100 on a show like Stargate Atlantis in a SECOND, if there were not advertisements, in-show banners, and other bullshit.

Viewers will enjoy personalized television entertainment within a secure service governed by a thoughtful yet stringent privacy policy that gives viewers notice, choice and control over the type of personal information that is collected, used and shared.

I'll hold my breath on this one. Anytime privacy goes up against profits..... profits tend to win. Every time. Funny how that works. I could be wrong though, this company might just sit on millions and millions and millions of dollars worth of data, because you want them to do it.

Make no mistake, this is a declaration of war against the entrenched cable companies. Aside from a $10 dollar rental fee, just what the hell else is Comcast, Cox, Timewarner, etc. going to collect? They are going to lose $50-$150 a month from your cable box subscription in addition to all the advertisers jumping ship to go to ZillionTV. Why on Earth not? ZillionTV is offering them something nobody else can give them. The control of the audience's eyeballs back to them..

The ISP's will probably love this too, since it does not affect their bandwidth negatively. They can host all the content locally and probably reduce a heck of lot of illicit traffic. Why download something off a torrent site when you can just be lazy AND cheap at the same time? Why wait for Netflix movies when you can get them through this product for a comparable rate, or free in exchange for watching 10 minutes of advertising?

I won't participate, but this is HUGE and it is most certainly going to screw with a lot of big players pocketbooks. I am so excited :) I got the popcorn out and I am ready to watch...

Re:What ISPs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27118269)

AT&T and Verizon are already pushing their own variety of IPTV.

The cable companies would rather you watch tv using their existing services (timewarner cable / comcast / etc)

Are there any big ISPs left that would even try to use this "ZillionTV" box as a way to get new customers or to get more money from their existing customers?


Just get Mythtv (3, Insightful)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080751)

If you like to tinker, you can have all of the content on one box and the way you want it with no strings. TV, cable, satellite, internet, everything.

Re:Just get Mythtv (1)

StreetStealth (980200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080911)

All with a UI on par with the Philips CD-i.

MythTV is great in theory, but in practice I wouldn't deal with it unless you really need a DVR. For streaming video, get XBMC or get in line for the Boxee beta; they offer vastly superior interfaces.

Re:Just get Mythtv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27082961)

I kind of like Orb streaming through my Wii's internet channel.

Re:Just get Mythtv (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27087755)

That is a lot of sugar coating. XBMC is pretty, but it is just a simple frontend for multimedia files. You cannot program mythtv. You do not get features like automatic commercial skip when watching tv (in like, no need to press a remote button). And XBMC is pretty well known as is Boxee for having lots of bugs, and I would rather be watching content than rebooting my box.

Re:Just get Mythtv (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081105)

If you like to tinker

Have you seen this site's masthead?

BTW, a tinker is what they called an engineer before there were engines. The name came from the sound of them tapping the metal to get it exactly right. Tink, tink, tink.

Re:Just get Mythtv (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27084777)

I don't really give a tinker's dam.

Re:Just get Mythtv (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081479)

If you want to tinker less, Honestly get a XBMC live cd and call it done. I utterly love MythTV for a Recorder but it sucks horribly at being a media center.

XBMC live is no effort with a Nvidia 8800GT video card and a Windows Media center remote kit. all done, point it at your NAS full of violently copyright infringed movies and start watching in all your tv's glory. I helped a friend who never installed an OS in his life set one up in 2 hours. Even Mythbuntu takes 4 hours of dinking to get it's recording system up and working decent. (Mythbuntu is my favorite)

I really wish that Mythtv would update their media portion of the system. It's antiquated and feels like it was last touched 10 years ago and then forgotten.

Re:Just get Mythtv (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081923)

Mythbuntu took me 6 hours of drinking, and I STILL didn't have a working install at the end of it.

Maybe next time I'll buy a tuner card...

Re:Just get Mythtv (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#27084031)

Try Mythdora [] . My card was supported, but the remote was proprietary which made it a pain. That was a year ago, the last builds have added support for my proprietary remote. Nice simple install (except the myth bit).

(also, buy a tuner card) :p

Re:Just get Mythtv (1)

Jon_S (15368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27083197)

Supposedly the whole MythTV UI is undergoing a huge rewrite for the next release to address this very issue (

In the meantime, do what I do, run mythtv, but add a menu item to launch Boxee when you want to watch streaming media or stored files. Works great (except when Boxee's alpha-level code doesn't).

Re:Just get Mythtv (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081759)

Well if you're not going to get cable, satellite then MythTV loses 90% of it's effectiveness.

And if you're going to go with just internet I would suggest XBMC+rtorrent+pytvshows.

IF you don't have a TV, then MythTV seems really useless.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080781)

Only 15,000 titles?

ZillionTV? (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080799)

Rebrand the box before it's too late!

I suggest DuDu.

I remember when ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27080829)

I remember the good old days when those of us who lived inside farady cages couldn't get TV
Then the breakthrough of coaxial cabled allowed me and my alien cellmates to watch Three's Company.

Bandwidth challenged need not apply? (4, Insightful)

IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080839)

I currently have a broadband connection but have a cap on the total bandwidth for the month. How do they propose getting around this problem which it appears just about everyone has. What happens when I get cut off in the middle of the month for excessive use?

Re:Bandwidth challenged need not apply? (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080913)

step 2 ????
step 3 profit! (for the companies involved, not you, good little consumer, you)

Re:Bandwidth challenged need not apply? (4, Interesting)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081189)

And you've just underlined one of the many reasons why the ISPs want in on this thing. They get to double-dip, as not only will they charge you a monthly fee for the receiver, but they will bill you for the bandwidth too!

Re:Bandwidth challenged need not apply? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081721)

No, not everyone has that problem, only ISPs owned by cable providers or media-producing companies have that problem (granted, those couple of players have the largest market share of the broadband market, but if you convince enough of your friends -- it doesn't necessarily have to remain that way for too long).

For me for instance, I still have unlimited DSL, but instead of decreasing my service, or capping it, my ISP has only been increasing my speed as the technology improved (without extra charge each time). And a friend of mine, he's been getting outrageous speeds, faster than cable and faster than DSL, through radio signals (it just cost him more to get the initial equipment, and permission from his landlord to mount it on his roof).

If you stay with your current provider however, expect something like $15 for each 10 GB over your cap (if you live in the US). Comcast has currently been testing [] that price point in a few select areas. I think they're just trying to find the sweet spot where the new customer attrition rate they'll incur is going to be offset by the much anticipated extra revenue this new (cell phone like) overage model brings in.

Re:Bandwidth challenged need not apply? (1)

ion.simon.c (1183967) | more than 5 years ago | (#27102959)

And a friend of mine, he's been getting outrageous speeds, faster than cable and faster than DSL, through radio signals...


Re:Bandwidth challenged need not apply? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27083349)

Stop... watching... TV...

Re:Bandwidth challenged need not apply? (1)

jtgd (807477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27085973)

I should think that if this were coming from the ISP itself, and thus no data ever travels from The Internet, then it should not count as part of your capped bandwidth.

huh, this doesn't make business sense. (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080901)

Instead of selling only to ISPs wouldn't it make more sense to offer this service to anyone who had the bandwidth? A larger potential customer base = larger customer base. (in a perfect world)

Someone please tell me (1)

thammoud (193905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27080953)

Why exactly will Comcast help this company sell this device? Don't think so. DOA with the ISP only model.

Re:Someone please tell me (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081039)

It would mean Comcast could offer on demand without having to host everything like they do now.

In effect, there customers get the same thing, and there cost to do business go down.

broadband speed (1)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081109)

It requires a broadband connection that is at least 2.7Mbps or faster

My broadband connection is at least 2.7 or slower. Can I still has streaming TV?

ZillionTV Offers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27082311)

How many is a zillion?

So... (1)

slapout (93640) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082743)

...ISPs are the new cable companies? Great. Just Great. :-(

ISP required??? (1)

redstar427 (81679) | more than 5 years ago | (#27083715)

I knew I shouldn't have dropped my ISP, and hooked up my computer directly to the Internet Backbone!

Just look at what I can't watch now, without an "Internet Service Provider".

Actually it makes a lot of sense (1)

PurdueThumbs (1126001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27084175)

1) Housing the content locally doesn't involve sending jitter sensitive material across the net.

2) It doesn't tax their OC3 or whatever to the net, all the bandwidth is consumed locally across their switch or router, which can probably handle it.

3) QOS becomes really easy

4) They know exactly how much bandwidth you have and for the non-super geeks out there they don't have to explain this.

5) It becomes an added benefit to subscribing to so and so's ISP

6) It increases revenue to the ISP and helps them utilize the transport equipment they already have in place.

7) Content owners are much more comfortable with it.

IPTV pays my bills, and I can tell you that there are many smaller telcos who would be interested in this. There IS an industry, and it's coming along just fine.

Free alternative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27096249)

Erm, can't we all just use Hulu for most of the relevant programs?

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