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Classic TV for Free Download

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the companies-with-perfect-security dept.

Television 366

way2trivial writes to tell us the New York Times is reporting that Warner Brothers will have over 100 classic TV shows available for free download with a 1-2 minutes of commercials per episode. From the article: "There is a catch. To use the technology, viewers will have to agree to participate in a special file-sharing network. This approach helps AOL reduce the cost of distributing-high quality video files by passing portions of the video files from one user's computer to another. AOL says that since it will control the network, it can protect users from the sorts of viruses and spyware that infect other peer-to-peer systems."

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366 comments

Free but more details needed (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027381)

This is great news for AOL. WB is one of the last "analog" networks continually mixing hit and past programming, with a huge license to decent past programming. The lady and I don't watch the news media much, but when we do it's strictly for WGN's morning comedy newscrew. (Sidenote: WGN is the Chicago's WB and has consistently been top notch is broadcast technical superiority. The station engineers answer the phones and have helped get us quality HD reception for years.)

We always joke about Welcome Back, Kotter and I'll be the first one downloading the shows. I'll get an MCE-plug-in to do it for me. The Fugitive is a great call by Frankel's team as well.

CBS and NBC's use of Comcast and DirectTV is outdated. Why use a very limited platform that they pay for when you can use your customers' paid for bandwidth and force them to share between each other? Throw in advertising for Smallville and Sex and the City, track download/share stats, Profit!!!

Babylon 5, Wonder Woman and Chico and the Man? Great ideas. Limited time access (via DRM?) is reasonable as I can see people buying the box sets if they like the shows enough. Here's to the WB to proving it once and for all. Frankel is really risking a lot, but I'm guessing the risk is worth the possible reward. The next generation will decide if this will work.

I'm not familiar with Kontiki or AOL Hi-Q. Hopefully it won't be too burdened by adware, Sony-style rootkits, or excessive tracking beyond what and when. We'll see, right?

One feature, to accompany "Welcome Back, Kotter," will allow users to upload a picture of themselves (or a friend) and superimpose 1970's hair styles and fashion, and send the pictures by e-mail to friends or use as icons on AOL's instant-message system.

Good idea. Use AIM as a pathway as well.

AOL may not be the idiot I previously mentioned recently. I'll be the first to admit it if they balance the good with the bad.

One thing I'd LOVE to see:

Ads separate from content with content flagged for an ad to be displayed. A user could give their Zip+4, Zip, Area Code or Metropolis (picking how specific they want to be) and more area targeted ads could be displayed. Here's where Google VidWords (VidAds?) would excel, actually.

Finally, WB-AOL needs an "Internet Extender." IP based set-top box that connects to your TV. Or a USB2TV box locked to their content? Watching on your PC is a step. Watching on your TV would be a lock.

Re:Free but more details needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027436)

WGN's morning comedy newscrew

Sorry, but I parsed this as "new screw".

win/win/win (5, Insightful)

xigxag (167441) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027459)

I agree with everything you said, but one of the best aspects of this from a slashdotter's POV is that it whittles away at the filesharing == evil stigma. I think this is a big plus for business, for users, and for the future of the internet. Hopefully it will accelerate broadband penetration as well.

Re:win/win/win (5, Funny)

Beardydog (716221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027527)

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but broadband is already saturated with penetration.

Re:win/win/win (2)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027539)

I originally had a similar comment but edited it out as I figured I was saying too much and I feared that if they did this wrong, it would actually be negative for filesharing. It CAN be "filesharing == good" but it could also be "publisher controlled DRM'd == good" and that would be bad.

and IPv6! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027611)

While we're solving problems...

Re:win/win/win (5, Insightful)

NeoTwig (930958) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027741)

Looking at the subject of your post, I can't help but wonder if those are the list of supported operating systems for this service.

Re:Free but more details needed (3, Informative)

kerecsen (807268) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027467)

Limited time access (via DRM?) is reasonable as I can see people buying the box sets if they like the shows enough. Here's to the WB to proving it once and for all.

I think the major deterrent will be this (FT fine A):
"The company will offer a changing selection of several hundred episodes each month, rather than providing continuous access to all the episodes in a series, Mr. Frankel said, so as not to cannibalize potential DVD sales of old TV shows."

So just when you are in the middle of a season, the show will go out of rotation and you have to go and get the DVD anyway (or wait -- 4800 episodes, a few hundred per rotation -> at least 6 months).

Re:Free but more details needed (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027590)

Why is this a deterrent? You're not buying content, so why should you keep it forever? If you like it and want it forever, buy the DVD sets.

Possibly, in the future, they'll have a link at the end of a certain episode saying "To see the rest of this season, click here to order the full season." This isn't a bad idea actually. Get someone hooked on the first half of the season, and charge them for the latter half. It's something the drug dealers have done for eternity :)

Re:Free but more details needed (5, Insightful)

Saxerman (253676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027484)

From TFA:
The service, called In2TV, will be free, supported by advertising, and will start early next year. More than 4,800 episodes will be made available online in the first year.

Programs on In2TV will have one to two minutes of commercials for each half-hour episode, compared with eight minutes in a standard broadcast. The Internet commercials cannot be skipped.

The article is extremely light on technical details, saying only that it "will use peer-to-peer file-sharing technology to get the video data to viewers." This, along with the commercials which cannot be skipped, suggests a custom client will be required to view the content, which probably means alternative OS users will not be supported. Regardless of how tentative it is, I Personally think it's a great first move at bringing old content online. Considering this is a free service, I guess we can't really complain, and it will be exciting to see what happens when their protocol is decrypted so we can stream the content to our player (or file) of choice.

In related news, Firefox 1.07 would crash on loading TFA, but 1.5RC2 doesn't seem to have a problem with it.

Re:Free but more details needed (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027560)

Right, very light on details.

As the content is being provided "freely," I think it is up to the publishers and the advertisers to decide who can see it and for how long. The #1 complaint from CD and DVD owners is "I bought the xD!!! I should use it as I please!" and this completely destroys that complaint (which is why I've never said the above).

For now, the content owners are doing the most free market thing they can -- don't sell the content to the viewer (but to the advertiser), and control exactly who can view it and when. There is no physical medium exchanging hands, so the licensing of the programming is truly controlled (until a hack is found).

This may not be what the /. crowd wants, but it is more in the direction of what the average viewer wants. In the long run, this really could be a win/win/win situation, depending on how well the advertisers recoup their money spent.

Re:Free but more details needed (1)

Chrismith (911614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027791)

In related news, Firefox 1.07 would crash on loading TFA, but 1.5RC2 doesn't seem to have a problem with it.

I'm using 1.0.7 and didn't have a problem. An extension issue, perhaps?

Re:Free but more details needed (4, Funny)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027796)

Throw in advertising for Smallville and Sex and the City, track download/share stats, Profit!!!

Congratulations!!!! You just solved for the mysterious '???' of the three step Profit mantra.

wow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027382)

i like to put my penis in the butt of a duck

Central control = no spyware? Ha... (4, Informative)

MS-06FZ (832329) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027387)

Usually the fact that a P2P network has been under some kind of central control was the exact reason it included spyware...

(Stating the obvious here, but damn..)

Re:Central control = no spyware? Ha... (1)

deft (253558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027410)

Why would the control scheme change how the program is written? They could put spyware in bitcomet just as easily.

If you are advertising you wont use spyware, it'd be stupid to put it in.... you don't think so guys here at /. are going to tear that app apart? And if they found it... hmm, think it would make the news? Thisnk it would be a free for all on aol?

Yes, it would.

Re:Central control = no spyware? Ha... (3, Insightful)

Caspian (99221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027507)

AOL says that since it will control the network, it can protect users from the sorts of viruses and spyware that infect other peer-to-peer systems.


Seriously, I trust AOL to "protect" a system around as much as I trust Microsoft to "protect" consumers from endless upgrade cycles. AOL's own software has some vaguely spyware-like characteristics; for example, it hooks itself deeply into your system (from what I've heard; obviously, I don't use AOL) in all sorts of places, and if you cancel, and accidentally double-click on any of the various icons (or do any of several other things), it will assume you want to re-activate your service. I've heard that AOL's software basically associates itself with various file types, puts itself into various context-sensitive menus, etc....

I do not trust this company to "protect" computers from spyware. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if their application took, say, a detailed audit of all software installed on one's computer.

Proprietary or No? (1, Interesting)

Vorondil28 (864578) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027390)

Is this just a flavor of BitTorrent, or did they develop it in-house?

Re:Proprietary or No? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027698)

Is this just a flavor of BitTorrent, or did they develop it in-house?

Probably both.

Re:Proprietary or No? (4, Informative)

brajesh (847246) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027708)

FTFA-

"AOL is using file-sharing technology from Kontiki, a Silicon Valley company providing a similar system to the ambitious Internet video program of the BBC."

and a google search brought me here at Kontiki's page [kontiki.com].

I'll throw out the first questions (5, Interesting)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027393)

Proprietary file format? (can't edit out commercials in Virtualdub)
What encoding?
Special player required?
Quality?
Do you have to be an AOL member?

Re:I'll throw out the first questions (0)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027519)

My guess is mostlikely: this [wikipedia.org], or an extension thereof. So to answer:

Yes
Dunno
Most likely
Pretty Reasonable, depending.
Likely not.

Re:I'll throw out the first questions (5, Insightful)

jschottm (317343) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027623)

Proprietary file format? (can't edit out commercials in Virtualdub)

And slashdot types wonder why media companies aren't falling all over themselves to cater to them. A company offers you FREE content in exchange for including ads in it. The FIRST thing you want to do is edit out the ads.

Want it without ads? Buy it.

Content costs money to create, particularly movies/TV. If you've never been involved in TV (let alone Movie) quality production, you might be surprise at how hard it can be. Despite the hype, you can't make a decent show with a DV Cam and a Powerbook.

If you want the content you like to be delivered to you in the format you want, you have to provide some kind of economic benefit back to those that produce it.

Re:I'll throw out the first questions (2, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027665)

If content costs money, then why do media companys publish so much bullsh!t content?

If they cut some 60% of the crap that is out there, they could save billions.

Re:I'll throw out the first questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027753)

Becuase people other than peragrin watch television and don't consider all TV shows that peragrin doesn't like "bullsh!t."

Re:I'll throw out the first questions (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027672)

Nonsense. There is nothing being created here. This is just a repackaging of very old TV programs that have long since been paid for...repeatedly.

Re:I'll throw out the first questions (1)

Perky_Goth (594327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027811)

hogwash. if you're going to edit out comercials with a video editor, you're going to see them anyway.
plus, if you want to go to such lengths to not view comercials, you're not going to buy anyway, and will probably associate the comercials you would see with a negative feeling.

Re:I'll throw out the first questions (1)

estebanf (814656) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027694)

Proprietary file format? (can't edit out commercials in Virtualdub)

this is actually what I can't understand. Alternatives to traditional media delivery are being developed as the crowd asked, but some dudes still want to keep beating the system. I remember when everybody claimed that 14.99 for a cd was too much when 1 or 2 songs were only appealing, but now we have .99 songs and still there's huge music piracy.

Now we have to option to get FREE tv shows in exchange of 2 minutes of advertisement and there are dudes already thinking to rip those!... What the hell people want?????...

Re:I'll throw out the first questions (5, Insightful)

xigxag (167441) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027727)

Proprietary file format? (can't edit out commercials in Virtualdub)

Probably so, but I think AOL realizes that it will be impossible to completely prevent some determined pirate from editing out the commercials. Rather, they are relying on a principle that Apple uncovered -- that if you make things simple and reliable, most people would rather get a quick legitimate copy from a reliable source than an iffy bootleg which may be bad quality and may not even be what it purports to be. The average person will reason, why risk stiff criminal penalties [slashdot.org] for an illegal download when you can get it for free, or rather, just for watching a few commercials? (Surely we don't think it's coincidental that the carrot and the stick are being shown to us at the same time, do we?)

Don't Immediately Bash This.. (5, Insightful)

lightyear4 (852813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027395)

The media are slowly awakening to the possibilities offered by p2p technologies. Finally. ...it's a start.

Re:Don't Immediately Bash This.. (1)

jasongetsdown (890117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027559)

but they're re-making the wheel to limit liability. Bit-torrent needs to address issues like this if it wants to get a piece of this pie.

I suspect AOL's attempted p2p network control... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027406)

...will look a lot like that classic Lucy in the Bonbon factory episode I'm downloading.

I suspect I'll allow Real Player on my system before I accept an entire p2p install just to download some crappy TV.

Distribution for us (1)

medgooroo (884060) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027409)

"We looked at the rise of broadband on Internet and said, 'Let's try to be the first to create a network that opens a new window of distribution for us"

hahahhahhahahahhahahahahahhahahhaha(etc)

file sharing? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027416)

I thought that file sharing stuff was a terrorist act.

err... something... The RIAA said so.

Bittorrent style (1)

Rabid_Llama (873072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027419)

I would put money on it that they do a bittorrent style downloader. It is working well for blizzard and it has minimal client interface. Now if only my ISP werent blocking it...

Re:Bittorrent style (2, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027500)

"Now if only my ISP werent blocking it..."

i'm guessing ur ISP isnt AOL then...

Great, now my computer can rot my brain too. . . (0)

hometowncomp (930910) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027420)

Just when I get sick of paying for tv, I find I can get it for free legally? Cool, now I don't have to be scared of my local police anymore just for watching things on my computer.

awakening (1)

anonymo (878718) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027427)

At last someone is waking up in the USA after BBC embracing new technology.
The more competition the better!

blah.. corporate quality for corporate citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027440)

The story says "high quality" but I wouldn't be so sure that will meet everyone's expectations. They'll probably be watermarked back and forth to hell, advertisements thrown in and the res will be something ridiculous like 320x240..... Most decent hour long shows (CSI, Rome, BSG) end up on torrent sites ripped from HDTV in either 350meg or 700meg.. the latter is just awsome to watch.

Re:blah.. corporate quality for corporate citizens (2, Funny)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027587)

Most decent hour long shows (CSI, Rome, BSG) end up on torrent sites ripped from HDTV in either 350meg or 700meg.. the latter is just awsome to watch.

So you've heard, right?

"Classic" (4, Insightful)

eMartin (210973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027442)

When I saw the word classic, I assumed the black-and-white hits of yesteryear, but this is going to include things that I would still consider somewhat recent like Babylon 5 and Growing Pains.

Then again, maybe that just means I'm getting old.

Sounds pretty decent so far. I just hope I don't have to install some P.O.S. viewer to see this stuff.

Re:"Classic" (1)

DarkIye (875062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027627)

Sounds pretty decent so far. I just hope I don't have to install some P.O.S. viewer to see this stuff.

Well, chances are, that's what's going to happen, but there's always hope [free-codecs.com].

its about time. (1)

navycow (778959) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027443)

Its good to see this type of thing happening. It really is the future of programming even if its not on the TV yet. Soon there will be real integration with the desktop and the hone theater. The problem with the P2P technology is that inherently it is not secure. its only a matter of time until someone uses it to create viruses to infect all kinds of systems. can you imagine spam on your tv?

Spam on TV (4, Funny)

Tony (765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027619)

can you imagine spam on your tv?

Ah. I'm closing my eyes, trying to conjure up the vision of spam on my TV. I'm watching a Friends re-run; let's see, Joey's drinking a Coke, Phoebe's buying an apothecary table from Pottery Barn. . . hmmmm, now I'm interrupted by a commercial for Zoloft (whatever the hell *that* is, since they can't legally tell me what it does and I have to ask my doctor), Chandler makes some lame joke about Trojan condoms. . .

Uhm, nope. I can't imagine spam on my TV at all.

Ah . . *sniff* (4, Funny)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027449)

"AOL says that since it will control the network, it can protect users from the sorts of viruses and spyware that infect other peer-to-peer systems."

Yea . . . uh . . you know . . . AHAHAHAHHAHA, no i'm sorry, there's no way I can make a serious comment about that.

Re:Ah . . *sniff* (1)

endrue (927487) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027657)

But don't you know that AOL analyzes over 1,000,000 suspicious links a day to protect you from phishing and identity theft? Clearly they are capable, 'cause thats a lot of links!

Re:Ah . . *sniff* (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027734)

What its saying is that end users can choose to put their own files up in the network, all file choices belong to AOL. Not saying it can't be hacked of course.

Why not bittorrent? (3, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027456)

The NYTimes isn't letting me access it so I don't know what they're using, but I'd have thought a torrent would work perfectly for this, and the fact that they control the seed will mean that they can still have control over the network.

Re:Why not bittorrent? (4, Informative)

Solder Fumes (797270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027641)

You must not be familiar with Bittorrent, or you'd know that with some clients implementing decentralized tracking, the torrent can live on long after the tracker is gone. At least, I think you meant to say tracker instead of seed, right? Because a seed is merely someone who has downloaded the whole file and is uploading only.

Re:Why not bittorrent? (1)

Bad Ad (729117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027742)

and you must of miss his point.

they will obviously be hosting their own torrents.... whether in some fancy GUI program that links to a webserver or what ever. they will also be seeding the file.... someone would need to change the torrent to "infect" the network, not just be a seed.

and what the hell are you talking about with "some clients do XYZ" im like 100% certain they will use their own client, so your point is irrelevant.

You know what would be cool... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027466)

...if AOL had the idea to send you their data via snail mail, on some kind of CD.

Legit uses of P2P! (4, Insightful)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027475)

It's just so nice to see a media corporation recognize that legit uses of peer-to-peer exist. The fact that they're actually using it is even better.

Re:Legit uses of P2P! (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027778)

It's just so nice to see a media corporation recognize that legit uses of peer-to-peer exist. The fact that they're actually using it is even better.

I'm amazed that everyone is seeing this so positively - instead of actually ponying up to get a first class infrastructure (e.g. I can download from Microsoft at 600KB/second all day long, even during the rush for the VS2005/SQL Server RTM. Google has been pushing more and more monster services on their pipes), they're basically using the resources of home users to distribution their content under their conditions. Gee, what a win win. Consumers will especially like it when their overloaded, overburdened high speed provider starts jacking up the prices to support the extended bandwidth they need to support all of the P2P traffic.

Sorry, but this is like a pizza delivery company dropping off some pizzas at your house and getting you to deliver the rest.

Statistics (5, Insightful)

olego (899338) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027481)

Bad statistics always irk me. Yet a recent survey by the Points North Group of 1,098 Internet users found that 28 percent said they wanted to watch regular television shows on their PC's or laptops, Mr. Storck said. Yea, and in a recent phone interview, 100% of the participants have a phone line. I'd be much more interested in the number of television viewers who'd prefer to switch to watching shows on their computers if they could.

Re:Statistics (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027567)

That is not bad statistics. If your service requires the internet (which theirs does) than the percentage of people with the internet who would be interested in your service is what matters. Giving two squirts about those who don't is a good way to distract yourself from your core market.

Re:Statistics (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027716)

This tech is in competition with DVRs, and so can't limit itself to looking only at current internet users.

Also, AOL/TW will produce a set-top box, like a DVR, so that people currently without internet access can still participate.

Ignoring the extended market is just as big an error as getting distracted from your core market.

glad to hear it (1)

DisplacedJoshua (919071) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027482)

When i can download only the shows i want to watch, now that'll be the day.
AOL innovating? Hey, they might make money again one day.

Oh Come on! make up your mind already. (4, Interesting)

xtracto (837672) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027485)

There is a catch. To use the technology, viewers will have to agree to participate in a special file-sharing network.

Why precisely is this a catch? why is it something bad? isnt this somethig we have been looking for since I dont know when?

For me it is not a catch, it is the technology that allows WB to broadcast these videos on internet.

I only think about the advertisments, I guess we will only get Coca/Pepsi-cola and Microsoft adverts, since these adverts must be for a really wide audience (i.e. the whole world)

Re:Oh Come on! make up your mind already. (1)

ZiZ (564727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027537)

I think the "catch" is because someone is somehow of the opinion that only p2p networks that can be used to distribute music, movies, and programs in violation of their copyright are 'good', and that using a p2p network or p2p technology /just/ for large content distribution isn't 'good'.

I'm not sure why they're making a big deal about controlling the network, though. I don't know why it would be more of a concern to your average home user than, say, installing AOL software to begin with - something I only do in a virtual machine when I have to test something with AOL, but that plenty of people apparently do gladly on a regular basis...

(Two cents: YAY P2P TELEVISION DISTRIBUTION!)

Re:Oh Come on! make up your mind already. (1)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027562)

Its a catch in that it makes it effectively useleff for people with monthly internet caps, shared connections(Alright, nobody actually cares that they're ruining the college line, but still), etc.

Re:Oh Come on! make up your mind already. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027636)

Its amazing that P2P is always a great thing to Slashbots like you until a big evil company (TM) uses it for their own benefit.

Hypocrisy abounds!

Re:Oh Come on! make up your mind already. (5, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027591)

The catch is that a large number of users will be in violation of their ISP's TOS if they subscribe to this service. Peer to Peer programs almost always run afoul of the "no servers" rule that nearly every ISP puts in the TOS for their "home" packages. In some TOSes they can terminate your account (with no refund) for simply responding to a ping.

Of course almost no ISPs enforce their TOS agreements, but they are legally binding and you are in violation of contract when you do stuff like this.

Re:Oh Come on! make up your mind already. (2, Interesting)

ikegami (793066) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027776)

MSN clients, ICQ clients, FTP clients (in active mode) and many more clients create server sockets. I'm not sure that makes them servers. The language of the TOS of these ISPs is outdated. If the problem is excessive use of upload bandwidth, the TOS should talk about this, not servers.

Re:Oh Come on! make up your mind already. (2, Informative)

spinfire (148920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027780)

A broadband ISP would be crazy to enforce this, since one of the largest selling points of broadband access is quick downloads of large media content such as this. I'm not saying it would make people go back to dialup, but I do think the cable/DSL/FiOS speed war is fueled by the downloading of media. ISPs use their download rates to attract new customers at a price premium, and it works. Remove that incentive and you'll be back to the lowest common denominator (768k DSL.. how can they even call it broadband?!).

Re:Oh Come on! make up your mind already. (2, Funny)

Comboman (895500) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027637)

I only think about the advertisments, I guess we will only get Coca/Pepsi-cola and Microsoft adverts, since these adverts must be for a really wide audience (i.e. the whole world)

Pretty much the same as network TV now (minus the ability to insert local ads by the local affiliates). You could talor the ads somewhat by show and target viewers (i.e. Hair dye ads during Sex and the City, Internet dating service ads during Babylon 5, Scientology ads during Welcom Back Kotter, etc.).

They finally get it! (hopefully) (4, Insightful)

spinfire (148920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027494)

Yes, finally! My only concern now is that they will destroy this by putting DRM, etc. They're going to want to prevent people from skipping the commercials. Lets hope they trust the honor system (and the viewers follow said system) instead of making the downloads useless by

Personally, I would gladly pay to download the few shows I like to watch. We only get ultrabasic cable, so I can't watch channels like Comedy Central anyways. A reasonable ($1-$5) per-download fee or a season subscription fee would be a great model for those who prefer to watch TV when they want to. For prices at the low end of the spectrum I would even be willing to tolerate ads.

Step in the right direction. (3, Insightful)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027503)

People can complain all they want, but this is a bold step for the networks. Obviously, there needs to be improvements, but this shows that p2p is not evil like its being portrayed. Networks are finally getting the message! In time, this will improve :)

gasmonso http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Uhh... (4, Insightful)

Sheepdot (211478) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027535)

AOL says that since it will control the network, it can protect users from the sorts of viruses and spyware that infect other peer-to-peer systems.

Sounds like a challenge to me.

AOL is using file-sharing technology from Kontiki, a Silicon Valley company providing a similar system to the ambitious Internet video program of the BBC.

That's odd, I remember Kontiki working off of caching, which means that part of the copyrighted video would be actually stored on client's computers.

From:
http://www.kontiki.com/technology/index.html [kontiki.com]

The Kontiki Delivery Grid dynamically optimizes delivery from many PCs and media servers by caching content at the very edge of the network. This creates network efficiency gains of 10 to 25 times over traditional approaches.

It also brings legality into question for other distribution mechanisms, I would think. If Kontiki is legal, how would caching a bittorrent for an episode of "Lost" be any different?

IANAL, but I'm very interested in this, because while I understand that the producers of Lost grant only ABC distribution rights, then obviously it's not the mechanism, but the individual violation that is at fault. In other words, the success of Kontiki would basically ensure that Bittorrent would continue to be a legal distribution method, even if the content being distributed itself was not. Right?

While I'm not aware of any specific attacks on Bittorrent's legality, I know that it has been questioned before. We just had some legal cases with Grokster and others that even now have on their webpages that there is such a thing as "unauthorized peer-to-peer services". If Bittorrent is one of these, then why is Kontiki be considered not one?

Re:Uhh... (5, Informative)

barfy (256323) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027574)

It also brings legality into question for other distribution mechanisms, I would think. If Kontiki is legal, how would caching a bittorrent for an episode of "Lost" be any different?

Because it is ostensibly controlled by the owner of the copyright, which means they are controlling the means and methods of distribution, which is the central power of copyright. Nothing here changes or makes the illicit distribution of "Lost" legal.

Re:Uhh... (4, Informative)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027600)

using kontiki to violate copyight law would be illegal, using bittorrent to violate copyright law would also be illegal. there is no difference really if they give permission to download via torrent it would be legal, if they give permission to download via kontiki it would also be legal.

there isn't anything special about using a peer to peer network for distribution, the advancement is a social advancement in WB seeing the market for free downloads with ads as comparable to free broadcasts with ads.

Re:Uhh... (1)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027673)

I would think. If Kontiki is legal, how would caching a bittorrent for an episode of "Lost" be any different?

Don't mistake the medium for the content (even if the world's governments can't tell the difference).

Kontiki or BT or plain ol' Kazaa, doesn't matter here. The holders of the copyright can give you permission to do anything at all (beyond fair use, of course) with that content. If that means "you have the right to watch this, keep a copy or part of a copy, and redistribute it to others in response to a valid request over our proprietary network", they can certainly do so. They can even say "you can distribute this over our branded-but-identical version of Kontiki, but not any other version of Kontiki".



Now, personally, I see this as a good thing, assuming they don't make it so Windows-only and DRM'd to death that they alienate their entire target audience. If they can avoid that... Well, I don't like most of the "X marks the death of Y" claims, but this could well put quite a few nails in the coffin of traditional broadcast television.

Kontiki (2, Informative)

daranz (914716) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027554)

I remember that Gamespot used to use an app from Kontiki for free downloads for non-subscribers. The app wasn't the most reliable and didn't always work right... they eventually ditched it.

Maybe it'll actually work better now...

Changing their tune (1)

Umuri (897961) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027566)

I'm all for company rehabilitation, and well, last i checked aohell doesn't really have the most.... sparkling reputation for doing things right, efficiently, or securely. But if this really works then i think it's a step in the right direction for them getting back to a respectable reputation. I mean what's the worst that could happen, the filesharing is as inefficient and buggy as aol's old browsers, and the rest of the ISP's don't cooperate? Oh wait.....

Is Leave It To Beaver one of them? (2, Funny)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027577)

Haskell: Hi Mrs Cleaver, how's the Beaver?
Mrs. Cleaver: Fine Eddie. And how's your little pecker?

Does that mean that (1)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027632)

years after Al Gore invented the Internet, AOL invented BitTorrent?

Re:Does that mean that (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027681)

Holy shit, after all these years, another AL Gore invented the internet comment.

Why don't you stab yourself in the face?

Re:Does that mean that (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027707)

Why don't you, liberal hippie?

Multicast? (1)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027642)

Multicast is still far more efficient than any P2P "broadcast", if a million or so people are watching the same thing?

I guess when Bittorrent supports multicast for sending file chunks, it could at least optimize when a multicast network is available.

Re:Multicast? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027684)

How many residential broadband ISP's support multicast?

Its worth mentioning... (5, Informative)

tgd (2822) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027644)

Its worth mentioning that Warner is also the one studio that has really resisted the MPAA strong-arm tactics of treating customers as criminals. They wisely felt pricing their movie library competitively ($10 range) meant greater sales for them, and less piracy.

They are definitely the good guys.

Commercials and skipping (1)

MourningBlade (182180) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027653)

One to two minutes of commercials? Are they unskippable? If so, we'll figure out not only how much people are willing to pay to not have commercials but also how many people are willing to pay to have full seek ability in their own shows....

Perhaps commercials to buy boxed sets? (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027760)

I would suspect some of the commercials are to buy the boxed set for the episodes being viewed. Get consumers to distribute your shows in a small computer version just so they get the idea to buy the boxed set for the living room HDTV.

I sure wish they'd stop quoting Storck (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027658)

FTA: "Of the media companies' new experiments, Peter Storck, president of the Points North Group, a research firm, remarked, 'They are saying let's take the plunge, put the content out there, and figure out how to monetize it.'"

Yes, they'll put the content out before figuring out a business plan for this venture.

FTA: "'This is great goofy stuff that fans are going to love,' Mr. Storck of the Points North Group said."

What a stupid meaningless blurb, but does remind me of Carson.

BTW, Points North Group is a consulting firm, formerly called K-Town Group, that claims expertise in digital media.

Here's a choice quote of Storck's from 4/29/05 http://www.organic.com/about/news_detail.jsp?572 [organic.com]:
"'The DVR will prove to be the beginning, the emancipation of marketing -- and content too, but marketing,' said Peter Storck, president of K-Town Group, speaking on a separate panel. 'In some months -- 13, 18, 24 -- the DVR is going to look like the torpedo that broke the dam and crated [sic, I think] new ways of marketing.'"

This guy sure has a way with metaphors. Sure wish he'd have a way with insight.

Not as good as it seems (2, Insightful)

DisplacedJoshua (919071) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027692)

FROM THE ARTICLE: "The company will offer a changing selection of several hundred episodes each month, rather than providing continuous access to all the episodes in a series, Mr. Frankel said, so as not to cannibalize potential DVD sales of old TV shows." Better download as much as you can as fast as you can; it seemed to good to be true.

required clients are blocking true integration (4, Insightful)

Gyorg_Lavode (520114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027737)

I am very happy that companies such as apple, ABC, and Time Warner are making tv shows available over the internet. But I have a signifigant problem with their implimentation. I have no problem watching a 1-2 minute comercial that can't be skipped. I have no problem loading proprietary software to watch their show so they can trust that I am not missusing my license to the media.

But I DO have a problem with having to use their client to view it. I watch video in basically 2 places. On my linux computer. And on my TV by way of a computer hooked to it. Now, the problem is that it is very hard to display video to a tv. Really only programs that are full screen and have taken this into account are capable of navigating and displaying video in such a way. I want 1 program to do this. Be it sageTV, a Windows Media Center Edition, MythTV, etc. The LAST thing I want to do is open up iTunes for my iTunes protected media, (and unless something has changed I don't know about, it doesn't display on a TV worth squat), or this Time Warner client to watch their media.

Granted, I have a very poor quality TV. But even if I update to a nice, fresh one, I should only have to have 1 program running to access my media. Each protection scheme should supply some pre-compiled library that each media player can then integrate to decode the data or to do whatever is required.

I honestly think that distribution of video media over computers will be hamstrung until providers consider how the way they make their media available will work with a Home Entertainment Center PC.

Re:required clients are blocking true integration (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027789)

I *do* have a problem with the download only being available through proprietary software (which will surely only exist for Winshit systems) as well as any concept of having to view it with proprietary software. But I'm sure they realize that if they let you download the shows in a standard video format with a standard http or ftp download, that anyone with a clue could trivially clip off their commercials and then redistribute via kazaa, donkey, bt, whatever. So they'll never do that in a million years.

So as far as I'm concerned, this doesnt exist. I refuse to install an entirely different, proprietary platform just to be able to run different, proprietary software to perform functions for which perfectly good software already exists (downloading, watching video)

Weasel Speak (2, Insightful)

jeffvoigt (866600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027750)

AOL says that since it will control the network, it can protect users from the sorts of viruses and spyware that infect other peer-to-peer systems.

Please note that AOL never claims that they will not have their own spyware installed, merely that their version is not one that "infects" other computers. And since everyone must be part of their network, everyone will have it installed.

Granted, I'm siding with the highly likely probability that AOL will have an uber-spyware program to go long with this network. I fully expect the license agreement to have a clause like "By installing this program you agree that we can monitor and regulate any and all electronic transfers of media you may have to help ensure that you are protected from digital pirates. Y'arr!"

People who trust AOL tend to believe that they are the internet, so this should be no biggie for them. I'm sure that there will be a follow up article a year or so from now, "AOL users shocked that personal information was collected."

More BUTCHERED English on /. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14027758)

...with a 1-2 minutes of commercials per episode.
Is the English language REALLY so hard to master that we remain subject to errors such as this? PROOFREAD your FREAKING SUBMISSIONS!

Isn't there a huge catch here? (1)

MemeRot (80975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027770)

My ISP says I can't use my broadband connection to host a server. When running P2P programs like kazaa lite or whatever I knew that I was in violation, but I'm surprised a company like AOL is willing to be in a position of encouraging home users to violate ISPs terms of service, being an ISP themselves.

AOL Innovation (1)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027798)

It's amazing to me how innovative this company is. Someone immediately must create an open-source project to capitalize on this veritable torrent of bits to facilitate file transfers.

Thank you, America Online!

This is much bigger than Kotter reruns (5, Insightful)

ctwxman (589366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14027803)

I work in local television. I told some co-workers last night and got a 'so what' response. Maybe they're right. Maybe I'm paranoid. I see this as a very large test to find if online distribution of TV is cost effective.

When TV began, distribution channels were very limited. New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, our biggest markets, had 7 channels. Most other places got a lot less.

Cable TV started in the sixties. In 1970, when I signed up for cable TV service (TelePrompTer) in West Palm Beach, we got 12 stations - one of which was a rotating camera showing ads and a thermometer. I don't think I got anything that couldn't be plucked off the air.

Living in the Philadelphia suburbs in the mid-70s, cable TV began to bring additional channels like HBO (it was only programmed in the evenings) and CNN. For programmers, and advertisers, there were additional venues.

Try to get a new cable channel on now. Even with a hundred or more slots, there isn't room for anything new. Or, if a channel does somehow get on, it is relegated to such bad 'real estate' that no one sees it.

If AOL is successful, it will open up new channels and, more importantly, change the economics of distribution.

In the old days, the broadcast networks paid to have local stations carry them. That era is ending (and has already ended for most stations). In addition, the networks allowed local affiliates to sell a few commercials within the local shows.

If the AOL experiment works, and distribution costs are reasonable, AOL can sell the local and national ads itself, in any way it wishes, and eliminate the middleman.

Most local stations understand this... well, I hope they understand this. They will have to adapt their business model when they are no longer used by others as distributors, getting free or discounted shows to fill their broadcast day.

Over the past decade, local news programming has increased. Under this scenario there will probably be even more local programming.

I don't know what this means for those channels that don't do anything but play shows from syndicators or networks. This such a radical switch. Can they change? Many are physically incapable of even producing programs in-house.

Don't dwell on the specific programs AOL is rolling out on the Internet. The titles are unimportant, because if this move is at all successful, more valuable programming will follow. It's much easier to experiment with Welcome Back Kotter, which has little value at the moment.

Unfortunately, there are corollaries to Gresham's Law that come into play here. Will the addition of all these new distribution channels drive down the quality of TV? Stay tuned.

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