Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

AOL will launch TiVo-like Mystro service

Hemos posted more than 11 years ago | from the playing-catch-up dept.

Television 172

Jason1729 writes "According to this article on Yahoo, AOL is launching its on version of a PVR service. The content will be stored at the cable provider and not in the local hardware. That seems to be a huge disadvantage because it will use a lot more cable bandwidth transfering the content for a single viewer. It sounds like they're doing it that way so they can restrict which shows you can use the service with (like lock out new episodes of network shows)."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

And me.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5630700)

I'm about to launch a mysterious turd boat.

Re:And me.... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5630715)

I'm about to launch a mysterious turd boat.

Will it have remote control, or artificial intellingence? Is there a development kit available? If not, then I hardly think your story is worthy of slashdot, do you?

Re:And me.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5630853)

Either Slashcode is knackered, or the dumbest feature ever has been implemented. There are three ways to select a thread for reading using a standard internet browser:
( Read More... | 37 of 47 comments ).
Using the "47" to select the thread causes there to be no reply button shown for the thread, and causes all "reply to this" links to not show up.

The thought also occurred that perhaps Slashdot saw fit to block a large quantity of its bandwidth-paying-for, advertisement-viewing userbase. In that case, Slashcode is knackered, because I can still post this. Also, if this is the case, Kuro5hin [kuro5hin.org] has better stories, smarter posters, and fewer anti-war to correct.

You've got Commercials (0)

Blackneto (516458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630702)

This will end badly

Why this could work (5, Interesting)

Brento (26177) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630706)

If AOL truly does it right and makes it 100% server-side, what do they put as a "decoder box" in your living room? Why not offer PC software so that you can access your Mystro account from anywhere, and watch your shows? I'd be all over that - being able to set up my laptop on the road in a hotel with high-speed internet and not have to suffer with the hotel's lousy cable.

Re:Why this could work (4, Interesting)

Blackneto (516458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630732)

Your idea has merit, but I think the whole idea of it stinks. While it may not be different than ppv or movies on demand I can see people shying away because of account issues.
It has that Divx (not the codec) feel to it. Just not quite right.

Re:Why this could work (1, Funny)

Sialagogue (246874) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630845)


Ha! Yes, what indeed! If only my cable company had a small box at my house on top of my TV. One that could, say, decode a video stream and put it on my tv set.

Even better, it could listen to a remote control, and send those commands back to them for processing.

That would be so cool, and it just might help this system work...

Re:Why this could work (1)

Brento (26177) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630869)

If only my cable company had a small box at my house on top of my TV.

You're not getting it. I don't want the small box at all - I want my computer to act as a cable box, so that I can view my recorded shows without all kinds of converters, and so that I can do it from Dallas to Detroit. My computer has tons of processing power and great screen resolution - why do I have to suffer signal loss by sending the signal to my living room first, decoding it there, piping it through a converter box, and then into my PC?

Re:Why this could work (2, Insightful)

Sialagogue (246874) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630934)


Two reasons as I see it:

1. If they let you pipe their video feed into IP and onto your home network, it increases the likelyhood that you will then hack it, capture it, post it on Kazaa, or otherwise liberate their content to the real world. They control their cable boxes and the like it that way.


2. You talk about accessing it outside your home over high speed cable from your hotel room. That might be fine for your hotel room connection, but now your local cable company suddenly needs high-speed IP connections out of that server in addition to just the link to their proprietary coax. Not sure you'd want to pay for a whole new fat pipe just to access your own PVR on the road.

Besides, your hotel room would probably have this service from a local system anyway.

Re:Why this could work (2, Interesting)

telstar (236404) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630846)

Last time a TimeWarner cable guy came out to service my cablebox he mentioned things like this. He said that the credit-card slot on the front of my cable box would one-day be used to allow you to "bring your service with you" when you went on the road. While this has advantages, it also has disadvantages. As of now, there's no standard format for the cable-box credit card data. Also, while you bring your service with you, Timmy is at home and can't watch his favorite Disney movie for the 30th time because you've got the service.

I suppose that last hurdle could be gotten past if they relax restrictions on fair-use ... but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Re:Why this could work (1)

Slashdot Junky (265039) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631002)

Your hotel wouldn't allow this for very long unless you were paying for the extra bandwidth you are sucking. So, don't expect for this to happen and last. Besides, why would you want to watch a show on such a small screen? TV's are always 19-inch or larger at the hotels I use.

IMHO, restricting what I time-shift is a bad idea. My schedule does always fit that of television, so I tend to miss programs that would like to watch. After all, this is why I want the PVR in first place, not commercial-skip. My VCR skips commercials automatically now.

Implementing PVR-like functionality at the server is perhaps worst, because Time Warner already has problems with handling the VOD load in my area(Charlotte, NC). We actually switched back to renting movies, because the iControl fails so much. Movies are often not available and pixelating is a common problem as well.

Later,
-Slashdot Junky

Re:Why this could work (1)

Slashdot Junky (265039) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631012)

Dear yourself,

You should really proofread what you type, because you tend to leave out words.

Later,
-Slashdot Junky

Re:Why this could work (1)

Brento (26177) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631030)

Your hotel wouldn't allow this for very long unless you were paying for the extra bandwidth you are sucking.

Yeah, that's how it works. You pay by the day for a high-speed internet connection in most cases. There's a few places like Wingate where it's free, but for the most part, you pay to play, and that infrastructure is already in place.

Besides, why would you want to watch a show on such a small screen? TV's are always 19-inch or larger at the hotels I use.

Because boring channels are unwatchable on any size TV. I'd rather watch Robbery Homicide Division on my 14" Thinkpad than the Weather Channel, CNN, and ESPN on a 200" JumboTron.

Re:Why this could work (1)

Slashdot Junky (265039) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631253)

Yes, boring television is indeed boring. So watching it on any screen would still be boring.

Regardless of whether or not the high-speed access is included, the price was a carefully calculated figure based on many different factors. Desired profit for hotel, share due to ISP, and average bandwidth usage per room are just some of these.

The cost formula would no longer fit if the average bandwidth usage jump considerably, because hotel guests had started watching television streams via the net. The hotels would have to adjust the price or start restricting what can be done via the in-room connection.

Later,
-Slashdot Junky

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5630707)

your ass hurts

TiVo comes full circle. (5, Informative)

matthew.thompson (44814) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630708)

It's interesting to note that this is where TiVo started out - the original project the TiVo pioneers worked on was the HSN cable network which offered exactly these features.

Meanwhile over in the UK we were promised similar features years ago but because our cable providers are cash strapped at the moment they've not yet appeared.

Dupe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5630709)

And another dupe....

AOL.. eh.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5630710)

More like GayOL

Gay as in happy

I love you all!

Screw AOL (-1, Flamebait)

Captain Galactic (651907) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630713)

Screw AOL, use something else. They are evil! EVIL, I tell you! EVIL!!

OMG (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5630714)

Why. Would. Anyone. Want. This. Crap. ?

Re:OMG (5, Insightful)

bendsley (217788) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630728)

The reason that all the equipment is going to be at the cable provider is because of the fact that with this new service, you will not be able to skip commercials like you are able to with tivo. Most of the same features are there, pausing live tv, skipping shows, etc. But, from what I have heard, you will not be able to skip commercials, and there will be commercial pop-ups when the tivo is in a freeze frame. Companies that advertise don't like tivo for the fact that nobody sees their ads anymore.

Re:OMG (3, Insightful)

yoyodyne (469596) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630954)

There is an easier way for networks to prevent commercial skipping - the ad crawl. You already see those animated cars promoting some show roaming across the bottom of the screen, or the little show "window" surrounded by sports or stock info. I have no doubt that it will become the standard method of advertising, with 1/4 (or more) of the screen dedicated to advertising constantly. Commercial breaks will disappear. A law could be passed to prevent automated blockage of that part of the screen, and the ads will rotate from the bottom to the top and sides to prevent someone from just taping a piece of cardboard to the bottom of the screen.

Sorry to be so negative, but if I were in charge of a network it would have already been done. And as soon as one does it, the rest will rapidly follow.

Re:OMG (1)

Rande (255599) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631001)

Would seem to be pretty simple to block - and how would they know how you are seeing it on your screen without monitoring you in your home?

Um, that was a problem, _not_ a suggestion Big Brother!

Re:OMG (0)

jhigh (657789) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630875)

I agree that it's crap, but I think it's going to work. If for no other reason than that historically AOL can make their "crap" sell. Look how many people still use AOL for their Internet?? AOL throws billions of marketing dollars at a project, and it works. They know how to make people pay perfectly good money for crap.

You've got re-runs! (4, Insightful)

mikeophile (647318) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630721)

Seriously, other than the waste of bandwidth, how is this better than a Tivo?

Re:You've got re-runs! (5, Insightful)

Nakago4 (576970) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630760)

Actually.. its worse than TiVo. The cable operator has to secure the rights to the show or they won't offer it to be viewed from this service. And they also said that the service may insert commercials into the replays. And the time you'll be able to rewatch a show is surely limited on the cable provider's side since they won't keep a show available to rewatch forever.

Any way you look at it TiVo is a much better choice. You can record whaterver program you like, you can fast forward through any part of the show,(and commercials) and you can keep your favorite episodes as long as you want.

This service is doomed to failure.

Re:You've got re-runs! (1)

Erasmus Darwin (183180) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630988)

"how is this better than a Tivo?"

The main advantage this service has is that you don't have to worry about recording a show for it to be available. If 3 different shows that you wanted to watch all aired at the same time, you'd theoretically be able to watch them all. If you found out about a show the day after it aired (due to office water cooler chatting or whatnot), you'd be able to watch it.

On the other hand, given the overly restrictive nature of the device, this advantage may only look good on paper. If they can only secure the rights to a few dozen shows, and if they can't serve up last night's episode (due to restrictions on "new" content), then it'll be a mess.

However, depending on cost and how restrictive the service is in practice, I might be tempted to subscribe as a complement to my Tivo. I'd also be interested if it carried content that isn't currently being broadcast -- for example, season 1 of Angel, which was aired back before I started watching the show. Unfortunately, content producers might fear the effect that would have on the DVD market.

Re:You've got re-runs! (2, Informative)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631262)

The one advantage I could see to doing this server side is to allow me to time shift shows "post-mortem"; after they have aired (or begun airing). With a Tivo/VCR, you generally have to tell the box in advance "record this show/event" (Tivo will sometimes successfully guess, but thats a crap shoot) Tivo's "Season Pass" helps a lot here, I don't have to know when 24 is going to air (I really have no idea!) but when it does its in my now playing list, wee! But some stuff, like the Emmy's, (I won't mind watching Emmy commercials, but PLEASE let me skip parts of the show :^) comes out of left field for me. I found it was on 30 minutes till the "end", so I didn't bother.

Actually, thats the one feature I'd like to see added to my Tivo, a "Water Cooler" filter, to automatically record shows that are likely to be the subject of Water Cooler talk at the office.

But anyway, the idea is that while I didn't record the Emmy's, someone did, let me access the recording and watch it. Or the Final Four, or the Coca-Cola 400, or BattleBots Blooper Show (Tivo rely's on exact matches, so it misses stuff like that)

And of course they'll make money... (4, Funny)

Yo Grark (465041) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630722)

Just like spam, they only have to hit 1% of they're target audience to call it a success.

And with the # of ma and pa's far outnumbering kiddies and in the know professionals who will avoid this like the plague, they're destined to be a beacon to any large distributor who doesn't want they're movie Tivo'd....err PVR'd.

Distributor: AOL, please don't PVR our show, it's under "special" programming

AOL: That will be 50 Million.

Distributor: That's hiway robbery! Forget it, I'm not paying.

AOL: Fine, we just "automatically" PVR'd it for all our customers and provided live feed for all our Internet Subscribers

Distributor: You Can't do that!

AOL: We can't? Who ya gonna call? SLASHDOT! HAHAHAHAHA!

Distributor: No, they don't have any real power except the occasional network bandwidth block. Here's your money.

AOL: Yeah! We get to show better than expected Earnings!

Bah.

Yo Grark
Canadian Bred (AOL FREE) with American Buttering.

Re:And of course they'll make money... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5630754)

"to hit 1% of they are target audience"? What the fuck are you talking about? Learn to fucking spell.

Re:And of course they'll make money... (4, Insightful)

billnapier (33763) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630774)

What you forgot is that AOL is really AOL-Time Warner, and they own most of the content providers! What are they going to do, blackmail themselves? Well, I guess there is disney, but it's only a matter of time until AOL buys Disney...

Re:And of course they'll make money... (1)

Talez (468021) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630793)

They want to blackmail each other to increase revenue :P

And Viacom as well (5, Informative)

yerricde (125198) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631018)

What you forgot is that AOL is really AOL-Time Warner, and they own most of the content providers!

Time Warner owns The WB, CNN, CNN Headline News, TBS, TNT, TCM, Cartoon Network, but not much else that I surf past on basic cable. Time Warner does not own CBS, UPN, MTV, Nickelodeon (all Viacom), or ABC, ABC Family, ESPN, Disney, Toon Disney (all Disney). None of them owns NBC, MSNBC (Gen Elec Co), A&E, The History Channel, The Biography Channel (A&E TV Nets), Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet (Discovery Comms), BET (BET Nets), E!, style. (E! Ent Nets), Fox, Fox News (News Corp),

Re:And of course they'll make money... (1)

tx_mgm (82188) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630967)

or even better:

AOL: hello, distributor! thanks for holding, your call is important to us! what can we do for you today?
Distributor: um, we dont want you to PVR our show as it is "special" programming
AOL: ah, thats not good! tell you what, how about i give you 2 free months to evaluate and you can let us know after that if you still want to do this...
Distributor: uh, no. ive already been on hold for 2 and a half hours. i just want to stop it now.
AOL: what?!? why dont you want 2 free months? how could you turn down such a great deal?? i'm signing you up for it right now!
Distributor: WHAT?!? NO! I've already told you, I DONT--
AOL: --Alright! all signed up! thanks for calling AOL today! ::click::
Distributor: well son of a bitch...

other limitations.... (2, Insightful)

ecalkin (468811) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630723)

i realize that disk space is cheap, but this could be interesting! if a user (viewer?) is allowed 6 hours (i say six because you have 6hr miniseries) and this takes (a guess!) 10G and you have 10,000 viewers.... thats's 100TB! damn.

it seems like the tivo model is a wonderful example of distributed computing here!

eric

Re:other limitations.... (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630738)

Yes, but these are AOL (l)users.
they will only need to save buffy the vampire slayer once
and serve it up 10,000 times.

Re:other limitations.... (4, Informative)

bLanark (123342) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630748)

i realize that disk space is cheap, but this could be interesting! if a user (viewer?) is allowed 6 hours (i say six because you have 6hr miniseries) and this takes (a guess!) 10G and you have 10,000 viewers.... thats's 100TB! damn.

Wait a minute, they don't need to store each episode for everyone, they just keep one copy of it until everyone has removed it from their favourites, then it gets deleted.

10G forever. (3, Interesting)

mbourgon (186257) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630849)

1) As evidenced by Lotus Notes' "shared message", it'll never go away. SOMEONE will want to keep it, indefinitely. And be ultra-pissed when it vanishes. So you're going to wind up holding a lot of programming forever. What are they going to say? "content only available for 1 year" and you can't tape it on your VCR?

2) I think this may be doomed. I've said in the past that Free as in Beer trumps a lot of things. But if you can't tape tonight's Friends, what's the point? Then Joe Consumer has to say "well, I can't watch that on the cable box, so I have to tape it? Why am I paying the money?". More confusion will trump Free Beer.

Re:other limitations.... (1)

gtaluvit (218726) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631007)

True, but what if you never remove it? With a Tivo, you could theoretically keep something on it for the life of the product, say the local news if you were interviewed for something. That would be something you would like to keep, but 99% of the rest of the viewing population won't care. Say you keep that for 10 years. With Tivo, your HD is what fills up with cruft and you occasionally have to remove stuff. What do you do if you're the cable company and people have old personalized content?

Re:other limitations.... (1)

bLanark (123342) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630755)

it seems like the tivo model is a wonderful example of distributed computing here!

Tivo is an example of personal computing. You don't share any part of it with anyone (except people in your home).

Bandwidth vs storage (4, Insightful)

cperciva (102828) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630725)

That seems to be a huge disadvantage because it will use a lot more cable bandwidth transfering the content for a single viewer.

There certainly is a disadvantage in terms of bandwidth, but there is an advantage in terms of storage -- by storing everything centrally, they only need to keep one copy of each program instead of having millions of copies spread around the network. (Ok, they'd actually have more than one copy, but it would still be far less than the millions otherwise needed.)

This also means that people wouldn't need to program in advance what they wanted to record, since AOL could proactively store everything.

Why server-side? (4, Informative)

Zayin (91850) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630726)

It sounds like they're doing it that way so they can restrict which shows you can use the service with (like lock out new episodes of network shows).

From the article:

The New York Times, which was the first to report the details of AOL's Mystro project, said it would allow networks to determine which shows could be rescheduled and to insert commercials into replays.

There's your answer. They don't want people skipping commercials, and they want full control over rescheduling.

Re:Why server-side? (2, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631131)

As an added note... This is not live TV. This is all re-runs from the archive vault. Make note of it. It is NOT the current show and the currently running advertising campaign. It's old shows with the ads replaced with the current ad campaign. The current ads pay for the delivery of the archive program royalties.

Great , more cd's... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5630727)

They must have gotten a bargain on cd's.

Such a non-story (3, Informative)

funkman (13736) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630731)

Comcast already has this too [comcast.com] . AOL is playing catchup.

Re:Such a non-story (1)

justin_speers (631757) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630781)

AOL playing catch-up??? NAH!!!

Sorry, too easy...

Re:Such a non-story (1)

Roofus (15591) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630855)

It's not the same thing. With this service from AOL, you choose which shows you want to record. Comcast is just giving you of already recorded shows/movies to choose from, and trust me, their selection is minimal.

Aol: Slowly killing itself (1, Funny)

ihatewinXP (638000) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630735)

This sounds like Apple back in the day... "Well were bleeding money as it is, why not start another service." But at least Apple had the sense to try and create new markets (ie. the first PDA and one of the first Digicams) AOL/TW coming out with a PVR box? God there are so many holes in that idea that I don't know where to start.
In any case (heh 'Case' get it?) this is not the Holy Grail that will get AOL/TW out of the red, in fact this is more likely to put them in ReplayTV land (read: bankrupcy court).

the downside (1, Informative)

bendsley (217788) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630739)

The reason that all the equipment is going to be at the cable provider is because of the fact that with this new service, you will not be able to skip commercials like you are able to with tivo. Most of the same features are there, pausing live tv, skipping shows, etc. But, from what I have heard, you will not be able to skip commercials, and there will be commercial pop-ups when the tivo is in a freeze frame. Companies that advertise don't like tivo for the fact that nobody sees their ads anymore.

AOL again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5630742)

...trying to build their own world again... with shit...

Build your own Tivo Device www.mythtv.org (5, Interesting)

MrJerryNormandinSir (197432) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630743)

You don't need to pay for service. I built a mythtv! And the programing info is generated by
xmltv! For $0.00!

Check out mythtv.org

Re:Build your own Tivo Device www.mythtv.org (3, Informative)

Darth Maul (19860) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631008)

I have a little Shuttle PC as my MythTV box in the living room. It's wonderful! But it's a lot more than just TiVo functionality. On top of the TV recording/live pause/etc of TiVo you also get game emulators, image galleries, weather, and music library. It's the ultimate "media convergence box". I highly recommend it.

Mysterio? (1)

worst_name_ever (633374) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630745)

What, AOL is going to start battling Spider-Man [dte.uma.es] as well now?

Yeah, this'll last until... (3, Insightful)

Flounder (42112) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630753)

the first time a customer is told that they can't record a program. All across the country, you'll hear "Didn't somebody tell me there's this thing called Tivo that doesn't block programs?"

Giving the public more control over content delivery is what makes a successful product. MP3, Tivo, internet, etc. Restricting content delivery is doomed to failure (Divx (not the codec, the DVD replacement)).

Re:Yeah, this'll last until... (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631165)

Um, TIVO can't play back last month's Junk Yard Wars if you forgot to record it. This service is a tap into the archives.
Keep the TIVO to skip the new commercials stuck in your custom archive request.

I just love it... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5630758)

When a perfectly usable product is crippled and destroyed, and then remarketed as new and improved, don't you?

Useless With Those Exceptions (3, Insightful)

CleverFox (85783) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630759)

The only stuff I would want to record is new episodes of network shows. And they expect to sell a service that doesn't do what the consumer wants? These guys haven't finished Economics 101. Send em back to college.

Seriously, why would AOL care anyway? They don't own NBC, CBS or ABC do they? Whatever happened to laisse faire?

Re:Useless With Those Exceptions (1)

billnapier (33763) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630791)

Who do they own? TNT, TBS, CNN, HBO, TCM. And I'm sure there are more.

An Answer To Unlit Fiber, But... (3, Interesting)

occamboy (583175) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630766)

I'm told that somewhere between 95% and 93% of the fiber-optic 'net backbone is unused; sounds like AOL is trying to light most of it up!

However, there is the obvious (at least to me) problem of bandwidth to the home. The vast bulk of homes that do have broadband are sharing reasonably limited bandwidth with other homes. Streaming high-quality video to many people at once who are sharing moderate bandwith seems like a no-go. In otherwords, it seems to me that if the service catches on, they're dead; they'll have to strive for mediocrity.

Unless we put fiber into everyone's home. Yeah!

I'll keep my Tivo for now. One of the best things I ever purchased.

Re:An Answer To Unlit Fiber, But... (2, Interesting)

Roofus (15591) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630824)

Not really. With most systems pushing 900MHz, downstream bandwidth isn't really much of an issue. It's upstream that's the killer. I know with Comcast's Video on Demand, they've upgraded their systems to handle 10% of cable subscribers streaming at once. As the average loads start to creep towards that 10%, they'll just segment their nodes when the need arises.

Re:An Answer To Unlit Fiber, But... (1)

sg3000 (87992) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630947)

> I'm told that somewhere between 95% and 93% of
> the fiber-optic 'net backbone is unused

According to a March 2002 article by Carol Wilson of The NetEconomy, usage is a lot higher than people think. During peak traffic periods, it's estimated that more than 60% of fiber optic channels are "lit" -- that is, in active capacity. She cited two examples. Qwest reported 80% utilization and Telechoice reported more than 60%.

However, since networks are generally engineered for peak capacity, and the usage during peak traffic times can be 10 times greater than the usage during off-peak times, it can mistakenly appear as if the fiber optics networks are essentially unused.

Unfortunately, I can't link to the article, because The NetEconomy ceased operations back when the 'net economy ceased to exist.

I don't think this is necessarily trying to attack TiVo. They're probably trying to find a happy medium between pure TiVo (where the user has complete control over what they watch) and broadcast TV where the user has no control at all. Today, the number of programs is limited becasue the networks have to stream out programs regardless of if people actually watch them. With AOL's idea, they can store programs and only deliver them to people who want to watch them. So instead of segmenting programming lineups to geographic locations (the way it's done today), they can set up programming lineups and deliver them to targeted audiences. So, if you want to watch The Simpsons and Futurama during primetime on Monday? Fine, here you go, but we're going to sandwich some crappy cartoon we're plugging right in the middle. In the meantime, we'll push Law and Order to your next door neighbor at the same time, along with commericals that feature products that they recently looked at on Amazon. All of this without expanding the effective number of channels in the area.

Although this idea is marginally better than broadcast television, it still pales in comparison to user-centric viewing like with TiVo.

No! (1, Funny)

Lu Xun (615093) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630768)

Mystro?? It's a mysteron plot! Can't you see! Call Sprectrum and get Captain Scarlet [bbc.co.uk] on this one! He's indestructable!

Disagree completely w/the write-up... (4, Insightful)

Fritz Benwalla (539483) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630775)


They're not putting it at the head-end so they can restrict content, nor is it a bandwidth problem - just the opposite. They're putting it at the head-end so that cable networks can make it a revenue source.

Cable companies are spending their biggest fortunes at the moment installing Video-on-Demand systems, many of which already have PVR functionality built in. Bandwidth is no more of an issue with stopping, starting, and feeding a PVR stream than with a VOD stream. The only difference is disk space and where it gets its content from.

A much more core issue (and one that would be much for fun to stir up /. with, IMO) is that of content rights. Selling a box that allows consumers to record and play shows at home is one thing, but getting large cable companies into the business of caching broadcast content and then essentially 'reselling' that cached content without complex revenue-sharing agreements is a can of worms indeed.

They seem to adress this here:

"For example, if Mystro TV is successfully developed and the appropriate rights secured from owners of video programming, a subscriber could use the Mystro TV service to watch a program that aired the previous day, or to begin watching from the beginning a show already in progress," AOL said.

So to me this sounds like a VOD product that gets its content from broadcast television. iN DEMAND has made a decent business aggregating Hollywood studio content for distribution over VOD and taking a cut. Looks like AOL wants to make a niche out of re-distributing older (or very slightly older) television content. Pretty much what the networks are doing now with things like the re-broadcast of "Late Night w/ Conan O'Brian" on Comedy Central, except they get $x per play over VOD.

Not a bad niche - just might work.

------

Re:Disagree completely w/the write-up... (1)

billnapier (33763) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630784)

mod parent up! Unlike most of the other /. readers, this guy knows what he is talking about!

Slippery slope (potentially) (3, Insightful)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630857)

Yeah, it just might work. But you don't want it to. Here's why.

Today, if you want to watch a TV series, or a movie, over and over at your leisure then you can buy the DVD. When you buy the DVD, the publisher makes some money. If we're talking about a $20 movie, then the studio might make $5-$10 from the sale, once the retail markup, distribution, production, royalties, marketing and other costs are considered.

But once you've bought the DVD, the publisher will make no more money out of you for that particular title. Yes, if you've got more money than sense (or if you really, really want it) then they might manage to sell you a director's cut, special edition or whatever but the bottom line is that the publisher will only make a fixed amount from you no matter how often you watch the product.

However, if they could keep the movie, but sell you access to it, at $3 per viewing, then pretty soon they'll have recouped the same amount of money if not more from you. Let's face it, any movie that you like enough to go out and buy on DVD is one that you'll happily sit down and watch at least two or three times, and at $3 a time that's $6-9 already. Then you get your Star Wars devotees and Titanic nuts who'll watch their favourite movie at least once a week. Now your talking about at least $150 per year from just one movie.

Now let's consider how else those customers could be milked/revenue streams maximised. Well, for one thing you could charge different customers different prices. Charge Titanic nuts who'll pay $4 per view that amount while charging those that'll only pay the basic $3 "only" $3. Charge a premium for watching Disney movies on Sunday afternoons, or whatever else you want.

Charging different customers different amounts for the same product is nothing new and it's certainly not something that companies are embarrassed about - Amazon does it, and so do mobile (cell) phone providers. So you can bet that AOL (or whoever) would do it too given the chance.

This isn't going to happen tomorrow, or next year, or in five years but it is coming. It's just to attractive for the publishers and broadcasters to ignore forever.

So, while a broadcast/cable provider-end storage solution Tivo might not sound like a big deal on its own, it does sound like a pretty big when you take it to its obvious conclusion.

Storage versus bandwidth (3, Insightful)

kinnell (607819) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630779)

Storing each TV show on a Tivo for each user who wants to watch it is very inefficient in terms of total storage space used over all the Tivos in the region. By storing each show once, and piping it to users from a central server on demand, the total storage requirement is vastly reduced, and the bandwidth requirement grows possibly linearly with the number of users. Unfortunately this is exactly the opposite of what the world needs right now.

Re:Storage versus bandwidth (3, Insightful)

wirefarm (18470) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630862)

Books in libraries vs. bookstores.
Same deal for hundreds of years now, yet both survive.
Cheers,
Jim

Decoding the AOL strategy... (2, Insightful)

justin_speers (631757) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630787)

So let me get this straight...

AOL is planning on sweeping into a market with an obviously inferior product that gives consumers less control than products that are already on the market, they'll probably charge more for it (wild guess there), and they seriously expect this to be a profit-making venture.

AOL is dumber than Enron.

Re:Decoding the AOL strategy... (2, Insightful)

billnapier (33763) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630799)

AOL is planning on sweeping into a market with an obviously inferior product that gives consumers less control than products that are already on the market, they'll probably charge more for it (wild guess there), and they seriously expect this to be a profit-making venture.

Well, it worked for them once before. They excel at taking technical things and making them easy enough for every moron to use. They will sell this service to Joe Sixpack who wouldn't know how to hook up a Tivo. And they have at least one garunteed customer, Time Warner Cable. Any other customers are just icing on the cake.

Re:Decoding the AOL strategy... (1)

justin_speers (631757) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630813)

Yeah it worked for them before. Too bad for them I haven't noticed much of any of what they're doing working out for them lately.

AOL is dying. When it's finally gone, someone needs to throw a huge party.

Re:Decoding the AOL strategy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5630863)

Hey, it's worked for AOL for all these years.

Oh yes, it will succeed (0)

philhy (532776) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630788)

As much as this is enough to make a geek's skin crawl, I think this will likely succeed. It's hard to argue with the success of AOL's internet service, despite the fact that you can grab any random geek who will tell you that it sucks. This is PVR for the masses.

Bah, bandwidth... (3, Interesting)

dasmegabyte (267018) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630797)

There's TONS of bandwidth left on cable. Thanks to digital boxes (which take 1/100th of the spectrum that a broadcast channel does), most cable companies are at a small fraction of their max bandwidth.

Cable's such a great solution...it's big, thick, has high potential and is well insulated. It's got less noise than power lines and better range then telephone while being less expensive than copper.

Of course, there's also the matter of the supply boxes at the head end. VOD suppliers are like massive DVRs that operate in parellel -- and they're not perfect yet. There's still a lot of lag when they get loaded and many companies have yet to scale the number of their VOD boxes to match the number of digital subscribers.

I kind of worry that this is intended to replace the really cool DVR devices TW has been testing. The menu system is great and they go a beyond Tivo and the like by allowing your to record almost all pay channels and PPV material (first run stuff is black of course), and by having simple native support for watching one channel while recording another. Sure, Tivo can do this, but it's complicated as hell...my mom, who never even figured out her VCR, uses the DVR without trouble.

Re:Bah, bandwidth... (1)

dasmegabyte (267018) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630807)

"High Potential" should be "low resistance." It's fairly easy to amplify, too.

Re:Bah, bandwidth... (4, Informative)

Roofus (15591) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630843)

Thanks to digital boxes (which take 1/100th of the spectrum that a broadcast channel does)

Holy crap! I wish that were true. 1/100th isn't the case. A regular broadcast channel takes up a 6MHz slot. At most, you can fit in 10-12 digital channels in that same slot using a statistical multiplexer. Of course, the images look like shit (especially if the mpeg has a moving background). You may be able to fit in 10 channels of CSPAN though. You're more likely to fit in 6-8 digital channels in place of one analog channel.

Re:Bah, bandwidth... (1)

cperciva (102828) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630884)

Cable's such a great solution...it's big, thick, has high potential and is well insulated. It's got less noise than power lines and better range then telephone while being less expensive than copper.

Eh? I don't know about you, but the coax which comes through my wall is copper.

Re:Bah, bandwidth... (1)

dasmegabyte (267018) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631208)

I meant to say fiber. The ideas in that post were pretty sound, but I got dyslexic on all the terms.

Garfield: "Mondays."

AOL seems to only Market to morons... (0, Redundant)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630812)

and their internet business, as I recall, is going down the tubes because fewer people need or will tolerate AOL's hand holding nowadays.

SO in order to increase revenues, they decide to offer a product against an established competitor, except with more restrictions, fewer features, and more ads? And they think this will work?

I wonder what the color of the sky is in AOL's world.... cause they don't seem like they're in this one.

Re:AOL seems to only Market to morons... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631232)

so, you think their cdrom/floppy sending campaigns have been aimed at intelligent persons?-) .. aaand do you think that majority of people aren't morons?

The 800 pound gorilla... (4, Interesting)

adjensen (58676) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630815)

Unfortunately, this is a well thought out strategy that will likely hijack the cool technology of Tivo and ReplayTV and wipe them out. It's typical of the corporate mentality today...if someone comes up with something that impinges on the media, first sue them and then when that fails, take away their toys.

Of course, their implementation is never as good or as free (in the liberated sense) but they've got the muscle to make it happen. Want Tivo? Well, it'll cost you $250 for the iron and $10/month to keep it going. Oh, wait a second, here's this great online service from the cable company...no iron, $5 a month. Yeah, it's not the same thing, and we take control of your viewing habits (forced commercials, can't record certain shows, we keep a record of the crap you're watching and sell it, etc) but come on, it's cheap and easy.

And, sadly, in the America of today, that's likely the product that will succeed.

I'm a 2 1/2 year Tivo user and it's the best thing ever created for television, and I tell anyone who asks that. However, the startup costs were inconsequential for me and I recognize that's not always the case...despite my evangelizing the product, a grand total of zero of my friends have Tivos. But I bet more than a few of them will opt for something like this.

Re:The 800 pound gorilla... (1)

Rande (255599) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630977)

I've got one workmate who loves his Tivo. And it seems a cool toy. I'd get one, except for one little problem -

I don't watch TV anymore. I DL the few episodes of things I do want to watch, and everything else is DVD.

Well, I do watch a little news on TV. And strangely enough, I don't need a Tivo to record it when it's repeated every hour.

Best thing ever for TiVo (2, Interesting)

maggard (5579) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630825)

Every article on AOL/TW's Mystro will note TiVo which doesn't have the limitations of Mystro.

Also, for all of those sooo proud of your homebuilt's: You've reinvented the VCR, just more awkward, more expensive, and without cheap media.

Does your whatever adjust for scheduling changes, support wishlists, do smart scheduling that'll ignore recently recorded programs, re-runs, etc? Does it do this all automagically or do you need to rely on screen-scrapers or poor quality listings?

I don't mean to bust on folks, and all props to homebrew, but don't go calling something TiVo-like unless it really has the TiVo feature-set. If you've just managed to turn your couple-hundred-buck PC into an awkward thirty-buck VCR then call it what it is...

Re:Best thing ever for TiVo (1)

irving47 (73147) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630993)

don't go calling something TiVo-like unless it really has the TiVo feature-set. If you've just managed to turn your couple-hundred-buck PC into an awkward thirty-buck VCR then call it what it is...
Actually, *do* call it TiVo-like. Xerox, anyone? Kleenex?


Hopefully, there are enough TiVo-faithful to show the masses why they made a mistake in getting the AOL version and convert them over.

Re:Best thing ever for TiVo (2, Informative)

Darth Maul (19860) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631053)

Check out MythTV. It's what's running on *my* homebrew and it sure isn't just an awkward VCR.

http://www.mythtv.org/

It's only at a 0.8 release and is quite impressive.

Great Googlie Mooglie! (1, Funny)

theGreater (596196) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630830)

...imagine the storage capacity! Seriously, how much can you figure it would take to store all the cable shows that run all the time?

Of course, there are plenty of repeats, but still -- digital access to all the content on

[cheese] And just imagine a Beowulf cluster of those [\cheese]

*rimshot*

-theGreater Nutcase.

AOL/TW seems to have noticed... (2, Informative)

mr. methane (593577) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630831)

... that tivo and others are getting popular. In my area they are pushing their PPV-on-demand services -- as well as HBO/Showtime on demand -- very heavily. I did order a movie using the service and found that I could, indeed, pause it, fast-forward, rewind, etc.. but seeing as I already have those features on Tivo, it's not as much of a draw for me as it might be for a brand-new subscriber.

Legal in Australia (1)

yerricde (125198) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631056)

but seeing as I already have those features on Tivo

Not if your digital cable box outputs Macrovision encoding (it already does so for some programs) and your PVR is required to stop recording when it sees Macrovision (not USA law yet, but very soon).

On the other hand, because it's licensed by the owner of copyright in the programming, it's legal in Australia, whose laws consider time-shifting with a VCR or PVR as copyright infringement because of the lack of a Betamax doctrine.

test ignore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5630880)

test, sorry

Glad I sold my AOL! (1)

weaknees (662168) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630888)


This will go the way of UltimateTV and ReplayTV.

Funny how AOL can't seem to find any product lines that are actually *profitable*.

TiVo is an amazing gadget, but even TiVo, Inc. is struggling to find a way to make it a profitable service. Doesn't look like AOL is doing anything unique.

This might be good for Tivo. (1)

Viewsonic (584922) | more than 11 years ago | (#5630944)

If AOL can promote this so that everyone knows what a PVR can really do, people will soon realise that a much better alternative exists and Tivo sales could rise a bit. This could be good.

qustion (1)

BigBir3d (454486) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631016)

Is this going to be offered in a package deal with AOL Broadband?

Mystro == TiVo (1)

Disoculated (534967) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631032)

You know, for everyone saying how much Mystro is going to suck compared to TiVo, I'd like to make an important observation. Namely, AOL owns a large amount of TiVo stock, and would be stupid to be attacking that investment, much less not capitalizing on it, and they aren't in a position to be financially stupid right now. I'd bet money that Mystro *is* TiVo.

How long... (1)

Tuxinatorium (463682) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631037)

...before AOL's ISP pulls the plug b/c of DMCA accusations?

I have a TiVo (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631044)

I bought a Tivo a couple of months ago when they had refurb units for $150. I'm still undecided if it truly is worth $150 + $12/month.

Most Tivo owners say they watch more TV. I've found the opposite to be true. I guess I was expecting my Tivo to discover lots of hidden gems that I was missing. It turns out that most of TV is crap (IMO). There are maybe 3 tv shows that I regularly watch- Simpsons, Good Eats, and... okay, two tv shows.

But now that I know the Tivo will snag them, I never have to worry about being in front of the tube at a certain time. Consequently I watch far less tv. And now I rarely find myself watching things off of the Tivo. So in a way, Tivo has weaned me from TV.

Re:I have a TiVo (1)

kalislashdot (229144) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631211)

I would have to second that. The same has happened to me. I have had a TiVo for about 2 years now. Instead of watching whatever is on at the time that I can watch TV I instead only watch the shows I want to see. No more channel surfing and my TV viewing is half it was in the Pre-TiVo days. I bet that keeps TV exec up at night.

A few problems with this idea.. (2, Interesting)

tananda (85834) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631046)

Allright, from a company standpoint, I can see how what they're doing can be a good idea. HOWEVER, here's the problem as I see it. I have EchoStar at home, and I'm quite happy with it. I've switched out the HD in it and now can have several weeks worth of programs saved for me to view at my leisure. I can't remember the last time I bothered to watch a commercial, and as a consumer, I *like* this idea. I also like the idea of being able to watch my saved shows even on those very rare occasions that weather and other things decide to block out my signal. Furthermore, I don't feel like giving up any of these for a service that won't even let me record certain shows. Why I would choose to have my shows on some server, maintained by AOL-Time Warner of all people, where the likelyhood of even being able to ACCESS my shows whenever I want them (we all know how AOL runs their servers for anything, why would this be different) is pretty slim?

Now, although obviously I am not every consumer in America, I am unable to see what this service has to offer, and what they honestly believe will make people choose their service over something else the consumer can have much more control over.

So does this mean... (1, Funny)

Ghengis (73865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631106)

I'm going to be getting 42 PVRs shrink-wrapped in a tin box in my mail every week??

Let me guess. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5631182)

It'll learn that I like to watch Fox News, and then mysteriously record CNN instead.

Or that I like to record action movies. But ignore any that aren't on AOL/TW-owned channels.

Other reasons... (1)

MoNkaholic (661916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5631214)

Everyone keeps talking about how this is all about ads, what about users that transfer recorded television from their TiVo to other devices? Wouldn't this render such an act impossible? Or at least incredibly illegal?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?