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Amazon & Tivo Take on Netflix

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the getting-closer dept.

Television 97

RadioTV writes "Amazon is in Beta testing with select Tivo users to allow Unbox videos to be downloaded to Series 2 and 3 set-top boxes. The FAQ for the service is available." The price point for movies is fairly reasonable. No HD and won't work with DirecTV's obsoleted HD tivo, but this is a step in the right direction.

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97 comments

FP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17921258)

Boy, those times when you can easily get first post, you just never know WHAT to post...

Re:FP! (-1, Offtopic)

bebruda (1060418) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921450)

si

Why isn't DirecTV up with the times? (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921264)

Sorry, the service won't be available for DirecTV TiVo subscribers or TiVo subscribers who use a telephone phone line to access the service.

Well, that's one reason why the DirecTiVo subscribers won't be able to use it... Most DirecTiVo users aren't running hacked receivers that allow for the broadband connection. Why DirecTV keeps its users in the dark on the upgrades I'll never know. It's not like their own DVR is any good (in fact, I used a HD DVR this weekend at a friend's place and was completely unable to fast forward/rewind like I would expect it to work being a TiVo user).

Re:Why isn't DirecTV up with the times? (2, Insightful)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921334)

What bothers me even more is the fact that directv, disregarding DVR completely, requires a land line phone for special services. Is it really that expensive to release a box with drivers for a USB wifi or ethernet adapter? I haven't had a land line in five years, and I'm not about to get one just so I can get the NFL sunday ticket.

Re:Why isn't DirecTV up with the times? (3, Informative)

dbatkins (958906) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921476)

I have Sunday ticket with no phone line. In fact I've never had a line to any of my boxes. Just call them up and order and they will activate it via the stream.

Re:Why isn't DirecTV up with the times? (1)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17923202)

I tried calling them up and ordering, several times, and they always told me "you need a land line". I've read reports like yours of mixed success on various forums, but I've never personally been able to speak to a customer service rep who will admit that the service works without a phone line.

Re:Why isn't DirecTV up with the times? (1)

opti6600 (582782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17924418)

As with anything, ask to speak with a higher-tier representative. Escalation's the key to these matters.

There are some very bright people manning some phones at DirecTV, you simply have to get in touch with them by running through a fence of the usual CSRs. Other than that first-line-of-BOFH-defense folk, I've always been very happy with how flexible they're willing to be on many issues.

Re:Why isn't DirecTV up with the times? (2)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921530)

With Dish you can make a voice call instead of having the receiver call in. A pain in the ass, but no land line required. It seems like directtv would offer a similar option.

Re:Why isn't DirecTV up with the times? (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921792)

Mine are hacked, I have 2 directivos and 1 sa, and I am very dissapointed in what dtv with the way they setup the tivo's. However, the new DTV DVR's, whatever they are based on, are total crap, I equate them to the same shit that Motorola and Scientific Atlanta make.

Opportunity for Tivo (1)

tgibbs (83782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925608)

I wonder if there is an opportunity for TiVo here. After all, the DirecTiVoHD has a USB port, although it is not currently active, and a perfectly good over-the-air tuner. And DirecTV is no longer selling these units, is running out of refurbs to replace old ones, and is introducing new mpeg-4 HD channels which this unit cannot receive. I wonder if TiVo's deal with DirecTV would allow TiVo to "take over" these units. TiVo could download (via phone) a bit of code to activate the USB port so you could hook it up to the internet, then TiVo could offer a reduced price TiVo sub for OTA shows, as well as access to downloaded shows. This could be an attractive offer for DirecTiVoHD owners "abandoned" by DirecTV

Ahem... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17921268)

this is a step in the right direction.
Glad we have Taco there to tell us what we should think about things. I know I'd be lost if he weren't there telling me what my opinions are.

Re:Ahem... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17921352)

Shut up, bitch.
What are you, Republican?
Or a global warming denier?

Re:Ahem... (-1, Offtopic)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921370)

Republican? Or a global warming denier?
(-1, redundant)

Re:Ahem... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17921390)

(-1, Troll)

Re:Ahem... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17921522)

Hey, dumbass mod, (Offtopic) means the reply is offtopic with the post above, not offtopic to the summary or TFA. The replies in this thread are relevant to the parent post and not offtopic. Btw, thanks for wasting your modpoints on AC posts; you're supposed to be looking for comments to mod up, not blow away.

Re:Ahem... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17923306)

Who knows what it means? It just says "Offtopic". You think you can make up your own definition, and expect others to just agree with you?

You're as full of it as people who go on about how the first post shouldn't be modded "Redundant". There isn't an Official Moderator Dictionary.

This excites me (5, Interesting)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921306)

I can't be the only one who thinks this is a cool idea. If you look at the FAQ, you can even erase it from the Tivo and download it again when you want to watch it. Sounds like an offsite movie storage arrangement simply for the cost of Unbox movies.

And that they aren't going to lock it in to the tivo and let me transfer it to my PC? Golden. I love the idea of hearing about a cool flick at work, logging in and buying it, and then coming home to it sitting there and just waiting for me to watch it.

Re:This excites me (5, Informative)

badasscat (563442) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921544)

I can't be the only one who thinks this is a cool idea. If you look at the FAQ, you can even erase it from the Tivo and download it again when you want to watch it. Sounds like an offsite movie storage arrangement simply for the cost of Unbox movies.

It's not as cool as what Netflix is already doing, which is letting you stream movies basically for "free" if you're already a subscriber. You get an hour's worth of streaming for every dollar you spend with them per month. And you can watch the same movie over and over if you want to. The quality is also better than Unbox (if you've got a good net connection - it automatically selects your quality level.)

You also really only get charged for the time you use... if you select a 2 hour movie and watch 5 minutes before deciding it sucks, you only get charged for 5 minutes, not the whole movie. Big difference from Unbox. And you can start watching immediately, you don't need to wait for a download.

You can argue about TiVo being hooked up to a person's TV vs. streaming over a computer, but TiVo doesn't exactly have a huge market share; I'd wager at least as many people have their PC's hooked up to a TV as have TiVo. And with people watching more video on their computers anyway, I'm not sure the distinction is really going to matter in a few years. A monitor will be a monitor.

Re:This excites me (1)

PingSpike (947548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921904)

Thanks for this! It looks like this just came out with this and aren't really advertising it yet, probably its sort of in a test run. The selection is pretty weak, but since its just an added value for me I can't complain. Should be nice when I can't find anything to watch.

Re:This excites me (2, Informative)

asills (230118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922846)

Yep, it's still in a limited roll-out phase. My account was enabled for it a week or two ago and another here at my office still says "available by June 2007".

Re:This excites me (1)

Overloadplanetunreal (603019) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922806)

Need more info!

I've been a Netflix customer for years but I've never heard of this. I couldn't find any feature like this mentioned on the website either. How do you access it?

Re:This excites me (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17923858)

"It's not as cool as what Netflix is already doing, which is letting you stream movies basically for "free" if you're already a subscriber."

Actually, I'd argue that it's cooler since it's direct to your TiVo. No computer needed, no potential for ActiveX security holes - unlike Netflix's system. This will be available to a much wider group of people.

Re:This excites me (3, Interesting)

Phishcast (673016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925094)

I'd wager at least as many people have their PC's hooked up to a TV as have TiVo.

Really??? If you're willing to wager I think a lot of people would take you up on it. I'm a geek and I've only hooked up a computer to my television once. Given this was about four years ago, but it looked crappy even with an S-Video cable and I got sick of having a wireless keyboard and mouse on the coffee table. I won't be doing it again soon if I can avoid it. I'd be surprised if there weren't 20 or more TiVo's plugged into televisions for every computer out there that is.

Oh, and I love my TiVo and my modded XBox with XBox Media Center.

Re:This excites me (1)

GigG (887839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17926358)

Oh, and I love my TiVo and my modded XBox with XBox Media Center.

Are you saying that your modded XBox is tied to your Tivo in some way?

Wow. (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 7 years ago | (#17926390)

Wow. I've had mine hooked up since 1995. S-video is just fine on an ATI brand card, not so fine on other brands. I can read most default web-text (non-hdtv) and DOS text, bios, etc just fine.

Your xbox will break, but you will always have a computer. To NOT hook it up to a tv is personally stupid to me. Emulators. Porn. TV shows on bittorrent. Movies. Music through your home theatre quality receiver. fullscreen youtube never looked so good (well..... youtube quality BLOWS but that's another issue).

We'll always have computers. It's silly to buy extra hardware that does the same thing.

And if you have DVI input, you can get damn good quality. My friend has 1920x1280 to his new-tech (i.e. HDTV) tv and it's pixel perfect. Milkdrop never looked so good.

Want a monitor? Nothing's stopping you from doing both. Or having another computer.

Re:Wow. (1)

Phishcast (673016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17926634)

True, my Xbox will break someday, by which time I hope there's a device out there that does everything it can do with an interface as nice. I can do all the things you listed that you do with your computer with XBMC. Emulators (launched via XBMC) - check. TV shows from Bittorrent and downloaded movies - check. Music through my home theater quality receiver - check. YouTube - check. (The YouTube script was a nice addition when I upgraded to XBMC 2). I don't need to install a larger hard drive or wait for content to download to the XBox, it streams it all from the PC in my home office.

Sure, we'll always have computers, but it's not always silly to buy extra hardware that can do things your computer can do. I can drop a television tuner card into my PC and watch on my monitor, but I still own a television or two.

Oh, and I get the added bonus of not looking like a dork who has a keyboard and mouse on his coffee table. :)

hmm (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 7 years ago | (#17926812)

Sounds like a lot of extra work for me. Have modded xbox, do not play videos on it. p.s. - The reason one doesn't watch TV on one's computer is the smaller size of screen. Give me 36 inches, or give me nothing. And news flash: you're a dork and you're posting on slashdot about your modded Xbox. Quit trying to hide it, you marginalize the rest of us :)

Re:This excites me (1)

Maltheus (248271) | more than 7 years ago | (#17927182)

Well then don't use S-Video and don't use a keyboard. I get 720p to my TV through component video cables and I have it set up so that I can access everything from a very TiVo-like RF remote control. I've had this since 99'. It's since expanded to the point where I can access terabytes of movies and TV shows, emulated games, home videos and photos through several button clicks. And I haven't even touch MythTV yet. I almost never even use Dish or my DVD player anymore.

I know people without TiVo's (and no geek credentials) who hook their Macs up to their TVs through HDMI (for music visualization and iTunes shows). I would call you out on your geek credentials if you hadn't contradicted yourself in the end by mentioning your modded X-Box. So you do have a computer (for all intents and purposes) hooked up to your TV after all. It really has become a lot more popular in the last couple of years.

Re:This excites me (1)

trupoet (114382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17937444)

MythTV 4tw!

that is all

Seems a little ridiculous... (1)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921318)

Download times will vary depending on your actual Internet connection speed and the length of the video. With a fast broadband connection (5 Mbps), a movie can download in about an hour, while a 1-hour TV episode can download in about 30 minutes. However, on a slower broadband connection (less than 1 Mbps), a movie could take up to 5 hours.
I don't know about you but I personally would not want to have to wait an hour to download a TV show. It seems like if you were that interested in the show you could simply record it when the episode first airs...

Re:Seems a little ridiculous... (4, Interesting)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921486)

I think it's more for when you join a series part-way through and want to download it to watch the first few eps, or for downloading older shows that aren't currently being aired (or are being repeated at random).

These reasons, along with the convenience of not having to have a tivo and bypassing your country's year+ delay in showing new shows are why most people download torrents of tv shows.

Re:Seems a little ridiculous... (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922552)

I'm sure people also download shows / series from channels that they don't get, and don't use enough to make it worthwhile subscribing, and I think this is the future.. People will a la carte subscribe to / download (and even pay for once the content producers get their act together!) the individual shows they want rather than the current model of subscribing to whole "channels" (a rather odd concept, when you think about it!) or worse yet bundles of channels per the current distribution model.

It's not too hard to see a future where TV as we know it is replaced with a fast network connection to a Tivo-like "set" top box and a video display device (no more analog TV or tuners of any kind), with shows individually selected and downloaded from iTunes/Amazon unbox like services. It's a transition that could really happen quite fast, especially with companies like Google building the massive distrubuted server systems that could handle the load as usage scales up.

It's about time TV went digital.

Re:Seems a little ridiculous... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921634)

Well, if you decide on the spur of the moment decide what to watch you have to wait for an hour. But your viewing habits are predictable, atleast by you. And you are still tied to thinking, "I got to watch it when they show it". No, just start the download, if you have not already programmed the download queue weeks or months earlier. Do some other chores around the house, and you watch it when it is convenient to you. I like to watch Jeopardy at 8:30. I dont mind watching the previous day's Daily Show at 8PM next day. There is nothing in NOVA that will go stale in three hours or three weeks. Welcome to the brave new world pal. You are in charge of what you watch, when you watch. Once you taste this freedom, there is no going back to "500 channels and there is nothing worth watching" era. Even whats worth watching gets constantly interrupted by people who are singing about a sausage on a stick with a pancake wrapped around it or talk about the new and exciting products made by "Depends".

Re:Seems a little ridiculous... (2, Informative)

tgibbs (83782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925424)

I don't know about you but I personally would not want to have to wait an hour to download a TV show. It seems like if you were that interested in the show you could simply record it when the episode first airs...
As a TiVo owner, I'm used to flagging a show to record days in advance. I'm usually in no great hurry to watch that particular show, because I have hours of my favorite shows already stored on my TiVo. Eventually, it shows up on the menu. I would of course record a show when it comes on, and save the 2 bucks...unless of course I didn't get interested in the show until mid season, or even 2nd season, or the TiVo missed it because of a sporting event or news interruption.

Unavailability of shows in HD is a significant negative. The XBox360 will download many shows in HD, although the list of available shows (for any quality) is very limited. But are we sure that they won't have HD? The FAQ just says "better than series 2 best quality." For that matter, for a lot of shows I'd be satisfied with DVD quality...wide-screen 480p.

Re:Seems a little ridiculous... (1)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 7 years ago | (#17928624)

Without HD, I would be much more inclined to wait until it came out on DVD format.
I believe the sole fact of this service lacking HD will be a huge detraction simply because people spent a lot of money on their HD capable computers, they wouldnt want to see that go to waste.

Price Point (4, Insightful)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921392)

The price point for movies is fairly reasonable.

Says who?

A random new release [amazon.com] is $14.99, the same price I would pay to own the movie, not rent a copy

The service seems to be on par with the iTunes prices for TV shows an has the advantage of going right to your TiVo.

Re:Price Point (4, Informative)

TCQuad (537187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921558)

From the press release [tivo.com] :

Customers can purchase television episodes for $1.99, purchase most movies for between $9.99 and $14.99, or rent movies starting at $1.99.
(Emphasis added)

TiVo/Unbox solves two major digital movie distribution problems: displaying on television and dealing with the lack of backups. If the price-point for rentals stays in the $2 range (the supermarket where I rent from is usually $1 or $1.50), then you've actually got something that might actually work for the average family.

Re:Price Point (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921808)

"If the price-point for rentals stays in the $2 range (the supermarket where I rent from is usually $1 or $1.50), then you've actually got something that might actually work for the average family."

You mean paying more for something that will take longer to download than going to the rental store?

Handy for less common movies perhaps.

Re:Price Point (1)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921988)

You mean paying more for something that will take longer to download than going to the rental store?

From the f*cking headline: Amazon & Tivo Take on Netflix

I wasn't aware that Netflix had rental stores

Re:Price Point (3, Insightful)

ranton (36917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922408)

You mean paying more for something that will take longer to download than going to the rental store?

It is pretty well accepted that people will pay for extra convenience. $0.50 more for a movie that you can download to your Tivo is more convenient than having to go to your local rental store.

And it is probably even cheaper if you add in the transportation costs that it would take to go to the rental store. At 25mpg @ $2.50/gallon and $0.05 per mile for repair costs, that is $0.15 per mile. If the rental store is even 1.7 miles out of your way, it is cheaper to download the movie.

--

Re:Price Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17922524)

If you want to talk about cheap, you need to also look at the market. Where I live, movie rentals cost between $4 and $5 depending on the store. $2 from Amazon per download is not only more convenient for me, but less than half the price.

Re:Price Point (1)

Murple the Purple (130813) | more than 7 years ago | (#17923850)

Agreed. But it goes even further $0.50 is worth obliterating the scratched rental disk annoyance.

Re:Price Point (3, Informative)

Daemonstar (84116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922040)

Read this [boingboing.net] then decide if it's worth it. Besides, why should I pay $15 for a movie that I can buy at WalMart for the same price? Besides, if you read, you don't actually own the movie.

Section 3a: "The Software automatically checks for upgrades, but the Software will not automatically upgrade without your consent, except as provided herein. If you do not consent to an upgrade that we make subject to your consent, the Digital Content may no longer be viewed on your Authorized Device. You must keep the Software on your Authorized Device current in order to continue to use the Service. We may automatically upgrade the Software when we believe such upgrade is appropriate to comply with law, enforce this Agreement, or protect the rights, safety or property of Amazon, our content providers, users, or others."

Section 3c. Removal of Software. If you uninstall or otherwise remove the Software, your ability to view all Digital Content you have downloaded to the Authorized Device will immediately and automatically terminate and we reserve the right to delete all Digital Content from that Authorized Device without notice to you.
I can watch DVD's whenever and am not subject to the wierdness in Unbox's EULA.

Re:Price Point (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922234)

That BoingBoing post and the EULA sections you quote refer to the existing Unbox offering. I can find nothing on the Amazon site currently that details the agreement for this new offering with TiVo.

I'll wait to see the relevant terms and conditions before I decide whether to sign up or not.

Re:Price Point (1)

tgibbs (83782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925486)

Read this [boingboing.net] then decide if it's worth it.
What does this have to do with TiVo? TiVo owners have already essentially agreed to all of this. TiVo software updates are routinely automatically downloaded by TiVo, and while there is no way for the normal user to "remove" TiVo software, you lose most or all of the unit's features if you do not maintain your subscription.

Re:Price Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17940026)

Actually, Unbox's EULA was updated some back in November - maybe in response to that Boing Boing article.

See it here...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.htm l?nodeId=200026970 [amazon.com]

Re:Price Point (3, Informative)

RalphBNumbers (655475) | more than 7 years ago | (#17923040)

Remember, it's rentals starting at $1.99.

If you look at the actual 1018 movies available to rent on their site, and sort by price, you'll see only the bottom ~10% (110 movies) are available at $1.99.
Then 208 movies are available at $2.99.
And the remaining 700 movies, the vast majority of their collection, including anything most people would be interested in watching, are $3.99 to rent (more than double the advertised starting price).

I've said before that I would only be interested in online rentals if they can get within spitting distance of the $1.xx per disc I pay at Blockbuster Online or Netflix. $1.99 for everything would just barely meet that qualification, $1.99 for a few token b-movies (or c- or d-movies), and twice that for everything else does not qualify.

(Of course, I have neither a Windows box, nor a Tivo, so the service would be useless to me anyway. I wonder if/when companies are finally going to realize that a disproportionate number of early adopters are mac users...)

This is the future (5, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921414)

The current model is: The TV networks produce/buy content. They pad it with advertisements. They get money from the advertisers paying for the whole project. They broadcast these content 24/7/365. Most people get between a few dozen to a few hundred of these channels. They pay nothing other than their eye-ball time. [The cable/sat fees are paid to the delivery infrastructure, not to the content producers or TV networks.]

This model is dead. The networks have to add ads that the customers dont want and make sure it is not too onerous. With the advent of PVR, ad skipping is here to stay. If ad-skipping is prevented by technology or law people would stop watching the shows. They wont accept ads anymore. Once the revenue stream is gone or severely reduced, the TV networks can not produce interesting and exciting content.

So the new model is going to be to use the internet to pump the shows people want to watch in their hard disks at home connected to TV. They will pay for content. They have to. They cant sneak ad in again like they did in cable tv because, no advertiser is going to pay for ads that people are going to skip anyway. I like this new model. Due to economy of scale and cutting out the fat in TV networks and ad management etc, I expect a service that will give me "Jeopardy, Tonight Show, Daily Show, This Week with George Stephenopolis, Shoot out, Dog fights, Myth busters, NOVA, BBC news, and a few History channel, Discovery Channel and national geographic shows" for about 10 or 20 $ a month. Great! Even my 740Kbps service has enough bandwidth to download all these with plenty left over for my vpn connection to work. I hope it succeeds. I think it will succeed.

Re:This is the future (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921908)

It's going to be a while. There are hundreds of millions of tvs out there, and people are not going to be excited about paying hundreds of dollars to be able to view this content on their second or third tv sets, let alone their primary set.

It will probably happen, but it is going to be years and years until broadcast television is even uncommon.

Re:This is the future (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17923280)

80GB external hard disks retails for 70$. For less than 100$ you could build a set top box that cat5 ethernet cable from your home router and output NTSC signal. A GUI built on remote and that TV monitor. Easily done. They can encrypt the format and lock down the machine, pack the advertisement and disable ad-skipping, sure. But you feed the NTSC output through a simple PVR and you get back the ability to skip ads.

Re:This is the future (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925082)

What about the 150 million people that have no idea what 'cat5' and 'ethernet cable' and 'router' mean? VOD over the internet will be a viable market in the next couple of years; it probably won't replace broadcast for at least a decade, and that would be really quick.

Re:This is the future (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17925292)

What you say is true. Currently only people who buy "router" with or without wi-fi and know things like Cat5 cable are people who own computers and maintain a home LAN.

But this video-via-internet appliance can be a pure stand alone player. Telephone companies would gladly sell a DSL service and tell the customer, plug this gizmo (DSL modem/router) to the phone jack and plug this set top box here and plug your TV to the set top box and use the remote to schedule what you want to watch. All these gizmos with blinking lights are free with a two year contract at 40$ a month (25$ for DSL and 15$ for the video service). Customers wont even know they are running a residential LAN. This can penetrate the market as fast as cell phones did or faster.

Re:This is the future (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17928592)

You've basically described a cable box; you pay out the nose for it, and selection is somewhat limited, but comcast has video on demand right now.

People with DVRs pay $2(or $3) a day to watch pretty much whatever they want, for me, the $2 download market isn't very competitive with that.

Re:This is the future (2, Interesting)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922034)

"This model is dead"

Well, it's not dead, and based on the number of organizations involved in the advertiser-based model, there's still a lot of money to be made.

But you can make a compelling case that the current system offers a chance to discover shows you don't know about. Are you willing to spend $2 on a new TV show that no one has never seen? Probably not. Because good TV shows are pretty rare. They come out with bunches every year and most fail because they're lousy. The pay per download scenario doesn't solve that problem.

Also, some of us just like to channel surf. Just graze a few minutes here and there. If something is interesting, we stay, otherwise we go.

Specialty channels like HGTV probably can't exist with pay per view. None of the shows individually is very compelling, but the package of shows makes it compelling ( this is the issue with satellite radio, by the way, but that's a different story).

I think it's more correct to say that there are more options are available and the market will become stratified to support lots of choices. If people lose interest in the channel surfing model, then that model will go away. If new shows can't get started because nobody wants to pay for an untested download, then that will tend to hurt the pay per download model.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Re:This is the future (1)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922184)

I don't know. I see it going the way that most websites are going, where you have to watch an ad before your content even loads. It's actually MORE annoying. Yesterday I was looking up movies on IMDB and clicking the "view trailer" link. I had to watch a BellSouth ad before each and every preview. It was so damn annoying.

I also have a couple of DVDs that play monumentous bullcrap before I can get to the top menu. It wont let me skip it. That annoys the hell out of me but of course I can't take the DVDs back since I've already opened them. I wish someone would put up a website with the names of those DVDs so I could avoid them.

Re:This is the future (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922506)

You could just make a backup of the DVD and watch that. Take out the menus and everything if you want. Just have the feature. Works great for kids movies. They don't have to sit through FBI warnings, or figure out how to work the menus. And if the disc gets scratched, you can just make another backup.

Re:This is the future (1)

JM78 (1042206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922404)

This model is dead. If ad-skipping is prevented by technology or law people would stop watching the shows

I find this a rather ridiculous statement with absolutely zero examples to back it up. For years people have watched network TV with advertisements and those who haven't wanted to watch them have simply used the mute function. PVR's have not been around that long and the vast majority of people owning a TV in the United States do not have one. So, for the majority of people, if PVR's were prevented by technology or law they wouldn't notice a thing - life in TV-land would keep on ticking the same way it always has for them.

Sure, there is an emerging model that makes use of the internet to get shows to a viewer's home but it is still in its infancy and certainly is not about to wholly replace the standard anytime soon. Now, I agree that things are moving in this direction and, I too, hope it succeeds; but there is no compelling evidence to suggest that if technology or legislation were put in place that limited the end-user and forced them to remain with today's standard model that people would somehow mass-revolt. To suggest that people would simply refuse to accept it and not watch shows anymore because they have commercial breaks is short-sighted wishful thinking. People will watch anyway.

Did You Tivo The Superbowl? (1)

Lensar (1011229) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922448)

I like your theory, but I don't think you're seeing the full picture.

What about sports and news? Did everyone Tivo the Superbowl and then watch it hours later so they could skip the commercials? Are people going to record breaking news on CNN so they can review it at their leisure?

You may be right with regards to a lot of the content that is produced for TV. However, there will always be room for ads in programming that people are compelled to watch live.

Re:Did You Tivo The Superbowl? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17923586)

That's actually a good point - there is still demand and ad revenue for live events. Though I actually do know folks who will record and then watch a sporting event. Personally, I don't know how they do it - the entire fascination with sports for me is the fact that there is no way to know the outcome.

This distribution method is getting fantastically close to an ideal condition for me. With TV shows available for a resonable price, along with cheap movie rentals, all downloadable to a TiVo that will also pull in OTA broadcasts, the only thing left is some a la carte cable/sat programming for sports and (possibly) news and I can see my entertainment dollars shifting. In fact, if it weren't for espn, I could probably ditch satellite altogether (future streaming feed, perhaps?). Hopefully this will all play out before DTV turns of my HDTivo, and I'll have a great way to tell DTV where they can shove their in-house brand dvr.

Re:This is the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17922836)

> This model is dead.

Ha! Optimist! I can assure you it is not. It might require some tweaking though. Have you heard about product placement? That will explode. And go from shy and unobtrusive to BOLD and UNMISSABLE . Plus - brand names will be burnt into the video in a way so it can't be edited out. Imagine seeing a woman place a call in a movie or show and you see Motorola or Cingular or whatever burnt into some empty area of the screen for 15-30 secs. Could even be FLASHING to be more visible. Or have a FedEx spaceship ship R2D2 around the galaxy in the next Star Wars movie. (If you watched the Superbowl Commercials you will get the point). The possibilites are endless.

A realist

Re:This is the future (1)

Scyber (539694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17924658)

Didn't someone write an article a few years ago that, if converted to Mpegs, the bandwidth equivalent of the # of movies Netflix sends out on a daily basis exceeds the capacity of the internet (at the time).

Digital Delivery = Dozens of Players (4, Interesting)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921466)


YouTube, Amazon, NetFlix, Xbox Live, Sony, Apple, Cable companies, Sattelite companies ....

There are no shortage of players eyeballing paid digital delivery.

Internet access plus TV-connected hardware is hardly a rare or difficult-to-repeat formula.

These margins are going to get razor thin... And the "capture apps" that permanently save this
stuff haven't even *begun* to beome widespread yet.

All these $3 short term digital "rentals" are going to look a whole lot like purchases before
the studios even know what hit 'em.

Re:Digital Delivery = Dozens of Players (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921836)

hese margins are going to get razor thin...

I doubt that. Realize that most people in this country are already paying to watch advertisements. TIVO users are paying even more NOT to watch the ads. This is yet another fee on top of those two. Regular people are already paying through the nose to watch garbage. I just go to my local video store and rent DVD's at $3/pop.

Re:Digital Delivery = Dozens of Players (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17922826)

God, you're so clever! I bet you must be doing amazing things in the world! What? Renting DVDs and selling pooper scoopers? Oh... Sorry about that.

Re:Digital Delivery = Dozens of Players (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17925384)

All these $3 short term digital "rentals" are going to look a whole lot like purchases before the studios even know what hit 'em.
Not unlike the large number of netflix subscribers who simply copy the disc the day they get it and send it back immediately. This phenomenon isn't limited to digital downloads. It's a copyright violation no matter how it happens.

The DirecTiVo is not "obsoleted" (1)

fname (199759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921478)

The DirecTV TiVoes, including the HD DirecTV TiVo are not obsolete by any stretch. You just can't get the latest TiVo features (you haven't been able to do that for 5 years), and you can't buy a new one from DirecTV any more. But there's a thriving secondary market, and it still works great. I'll take my "obsoleted" HD DirecTV TiVo over any DVR out there that doesn't run the TiVo software. Dual tuner, HD, reasonably upgradeable to a 750GB hard drive, Season Passes, 30 second skip, etc. If that's obsolete, what do you make of theat P.O.S. Scientific American or Motorola DVR you have hooked up to your TV-- obsoleteded?

I wish DirecTV had stuck with TiVo, but just because they didn't doesn't make the years-ahread-of-it's-time DirecTV TiVo (dual tuners back in 2001!) obsolete by any stretch.

Re:The DirecTiVo is not "obsoleted" (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921582)

Sorry. It's obsoleted. I had a DirecTiVo (non-HD) which I loved, but I replaced it with a Series 3. The fact is, not only does DirecTV hold back updates (I can understand MRV, but why not let us use Ethernet instead of a phone line?), but DirecTV is moving to MPEG4 with their new satellites. All the boxes they sell now support it (I believe). As they bring new channels on in MPEG4, you won't be able to view them. As they switch old channels over, you will lose them.

They are nice DVRs, and can be hacked to do all sorts of stuff. But they are obsolete. It may not be a problem now, but it will be within the next two years.

Re:The DirecTiVo is not "obsoleted" (1)

fname (199759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921872)

It doesn't meet the definition of obsolete [answers.com] , "No longer in use," but may be better described using the word obsolescence [answers.com] , "Decreasing value of functional and physical assets or value of a product or facility from technological changes rather than deterioration."

I know it's /. and spelling & grammar errors are to be expected, but imprecise language is misleading and often downright wrong. This is a criticism of the editor, Taco in this case. And you know what, this sort of flippant, imprecise language is a big reason why blogs & news sites like Slashdot don't have the same credibility as newspapers when it comes to reporting facts & providing insight into stories.

Now, where did I put my pilotless drone?

Re:The DirecTiVo is not "obsoleted" (1)

timster (32400) | more than 7 years ago | (#17923402)

You need a better dictionary.

Merriam-Webster, obsolete, definition 1b: of a kind or style no longer current : OLD-FASHIONED <an obsolete technology>

Re:The DirecTiVo is not "obsoleted" (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921914)

The switch to MPEG4 is for HD content, those of us still stuck in the SD stoneage will not be affected by the switch.

Re:The DirecTiVo is not "obsoleted" (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922010)

The understanding I had was that new SD channels (at some point within the next two years or so) would be MPEG4 as well to save bandwidth on the satellite. I realize HD was doing that first (which is a big deal if you have a HD DirecTiVo), but I was under the impression it was happening with SD as well.

However, I moved to a Series 3 when I got a HDTV because I knew about the HDTV situation with the HD DirecTiVos, and that they aren't sold any more (only the replacements which I haven't heard kind things about). Oddly enough, DirecTV got me hooked on TiVo, and their policy towards them drove me away.

Try "deprecated" not "obsolete." (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922462)

I think a better term would be "deprecated [webopedia.com] ." It's not "obsolete [merriam-webster.com] ," because a lot of people still use them. However, it's obvious that DirectTV is moving away from them, and would like people to move to newer boxes, and at some point in the next few years, their usefulness will decrease substantially.

Series 3? Yeah! (2, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921508)

I've got to say, I've got a Series 3 and I love it. That said, it's great that they are doing this on Series 3 as well as the Series 2 machines. It's no secret (if you follow TiVos) that some of the Series 2 features (like multi-room-viewing) aren't available on the Series 3 (stupid Cable Labs). Series 3 is also a little behind of some features (Series 2 has folders/recently deleted and such, Series 3 doesn't yet but they showed it at CES). It's nice to see a feature available for both.

I'm a little disappointed at the lack of HD content, but I completely understand why.

I wish I got to test this. I'd love to.

I especially like that once you've purchased something you can download it again for free. It would be untenable if you couldn't.

they are competing with iTunes, not Netflix (4, Interesting)

soren100 (63191) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921620)

Tivo has to make some kind of partnership to survive -- it simply doesn't make sense otherwise.

I bought a used series 2 TIVO for $50, but they were charging $20 / mo. and I had to sign up for a year's contract to get any service.

Comcast only charges me $11.95 / mo. for their DVR and I can run it month to month so I can ditch it when something more mature and cheaper comes to the market. Tivo just seem like jerks compared to that, but it's because they are so desperate they have to act like a cell-phone company. Even if you give someone a gift certificate, it only counts *towards* them signing up for a 1-year contract.

I laughed when I saw Apple's iTV offering, but then I heard Disney had already sold over $1 Million worth of downloaded movies over iTunes. Then I started thinking about what could happen if I let go of the cable TV (at $60 / month) and just ordered the shows I want over iTunes -- the only show I care about is the Daily Show, and anything else I watch is really just a distraction from my life.

The good thing about this is that it shows that the market is moving to an iTunes distribution model, and that kind of competition will only help everyone. iTunes is the competition space here though, not Netflix

.

Re:they are competing with iTunes, not Netflix (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921724)

I have to admit, I seriously considered my cable company's DVR when we changed last time, but then I went into the office to try it out and it was nowhere near as useful as the Tivo. FF and Rewind were flaky, there was no 30 second skip, no home media like options, they made it clear they could lock out certain shows from being recorded, etc... The only advantages it had over my Tivo were that it could record HD and it wouldn't require me to set up an IR blaster to change channels (the cable tuner has a serial port, but they disabled it because they're evil).

Plus there is the added expense. I have a lifetime subscription on my Series 2 Tivo, so I'm not rushing to add a $12 a month charge to my bill.

Re:they are competing with iTunes, not Netflix (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17923182)

Comcast only charges me $11.95 / mo. for their DVR...

They charge you that on top of a $60/month subscription fee. In return, they can make your DVR just barely useful enough to keep other players out. If Tivo dies watch them jack up the prices or remove functionality by adding more and more shows you're not allowed to record, or skip commercial in. Comcast's interest is in maintaining their monopoly so they can keep gouging you that $60/month and then in making you watch as many commercials as possible. Anyone who goes with Comcast for their DVR is just helping a monopolist screw us all over in the long term.

The good thing about this is that it shows that the market is moving to an iTunes distribution model, and that kind of competition will only help everyone. iTunes is the competition space here though, not Netflix

Netflix is competition in that they offer streaming movies now and also in that their interests are directly opposed to those of the cable company. I could buy copies of the movies and series I really like and rent those I want to see once via Netflix a lot less expensively than paying a monthly cable bill. The problem is, they've tied their local monopoly on fast pipes with their TV service. It costs me more money to get just an internet connection than it does to get internet and TV. We need a truly neutral last mile before any of these service can take off.

Re:they are competing with iTunes, not Netflix (1)

RadioTV (173312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17929318)

iTunes is the competition space here though, not Netflix

It is competing with Netflix instant watch [netflix.com] , not with their traditional mail service.

I don't know why these companies bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17921654)

I get all my movies from the internet because I am a smart man.

Re:I don't know why these companies bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17923598)

No. You are a thief. If people did not think and act like you do, we wouldn't have DRM in the first place. You are not smart. You are the problem.

Amazon's EULA == DRM NIghtmare (5, Informative)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921750)

Here's the link to a plain-english read on it by the chicago tribune: http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ez orn/2006/09/scary_movie_dow.html [chicagotribune.com]

Here's an explitive laced though pretty good summary: http://www.boingboing.net/2006/09/15/amazon_unbox_ to_cust.html [boingboing.net]

Here's the EULA: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.htm l/ref=atv_dp_cs_use/002-8388024-7705601?ie=UTF8&no deId=200026970 [amazon.com]

From the bottom of my heart, I thank all unbox consumers for abaondoning the decades of time and people's effort to create and guard the principal that I own my media.

Re:Amazon's EULA == DRM NIghtmare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17922886)

RE: "the principal that I own my media" you might own the physical media that a CD or DVD is stored on, but you do not own the rights to do whatever you want with the content on the media. Content owners would love to be able to decouple the content from a permanent physical storage medium so they can charge you differently for a single view, for viewing over some short time period, or to permanently "own" the content. Download services like Amazon's are going to make this happen. Get used to not "owning your media" - this is just the beginning.

Re:Amazon's EULA == DRM NIghtmare (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17923716)

The Unbox EULA has been extensively reworked since those articles are written. While it still isn't great (but what media download system is), it's much better than it was.

Pay, pay, and pay again... (2, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921804)

So, the people who would use this, already pay to watch bad TV and advertisements (cable TV), they pay for a Tivo to cut out the advertisements they pay for every month with their cable bill, and now they're going to pay to download content? I don't understand some people. But you know what "they" say about a fool and his money...

DogDouche... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17922470)

DogDouche, you're a useless piece of shit.

That is all.

Mandatory (1)

jmac1492 (1036880) | more than 7 years ago | (#17921898)

No HD and won't work with DirecTV's obsoleted HD tivo
Sounds lame.

The TV is dead ... long live TV! (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922252)

This is probably not the revolution right here, but it could be the sign that the wave is cresting and ready to break. One day all flat screen HD tvs will have an rj45 jack (or maybe builtin wireless) they'll connect to the central servers and peer-to-peer share every tv show and film you could possibly want to watch, whenever you want to watch it. no more messing with recordable media to time shift the broadcasters dictated overlapping randomised scheduling, especially considering the buy-once-download-again-any-time model :-)

FAILZORS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17922360)

what 4rovides the WHICH DON'T USE THE themselves to be a

Thanks, TiVo, for nothing. (1)

faedle (114018) | more than 7 years ago | (#17922736)

TiVo needs to fix the problems affecting many older Series2 users [slashdot.org] before they do anything else..

It's not worth signing up for DirecTV to get Tivo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17923230)

I made the horribly regrettable mistake of signing up for DirecTV to get the HD Tivo. Huge, huge, huge mistake. Long story short: I signed up and paid for HD content including HD local channels. They couldn't give me my HD local channels (which the local cable monopoly does). Since DirecTV couldn't deliver the services they were charging me for, I cancelled the service I was not recieving to switch back to the good ol' reliable local monopoly. A YEAR later I'm still fighting with them about a ridiculous $900 charge for cancelling services I never got ($300 "disconnecct" fee and $600 "lease" for the box).

Beware DirecTV, they are far more evil than your local cable monopoly.

Widescreen? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17923916)

I know they say it won't be HD, and that's okay; but will the movies be widescreen? That's what would make or break this for me.

I'm perfectly happy watching a movie in 480p.

Tivo transfer rate too slow (1)

CPE1704TKS (995414) | more than 7 years ago | (#17924296)

I have Tivo, I love it, but things like TivoToGo is ridiculously slow when it comes to transferring to and from PCs. I think it was something like 300 kilobits (not bytes) per second. And I am using a network cable connection, not going over wireless. If it's going to take me 3-4 hrs to download a movie, I don't know if that's something that I'd be too interested in. I don't know what they need to do to increase the bandwidth of the network layer on a Tivo but surely that's something that can be improved... right now I would rather drive out to a Blockbuster and rent the movie since that would take less time than downloading a movie.

Forget Amazon's Unbox ... (1)

Devlin-du-GEnie (512506) | more than 7 years ago | (#17928046)

... if you use a Mac or a Linux box. Only Windows PCs are supported. See the Unbox FAQ [amazon.com] . I'm constantly amazed that vendors turn their noses up at millions of potential customers that happen to use other OSs. Amazon, at least, should know better.

Re:Forget Amazon's Unbox ... (1)

esarjeant (100503) | more than 7 years ago | (#17929244)

Is anyone offering movie downloads in a format without any goofy DRM restriction? What about music as an MP3 that I can play on my computers at home and at work?

How complicated does this need to be???? It's _just_ a media file, if consumers were going to make so many illegal copies of these things then I would be flooding the street with copies of my home movie collection even as we speak.

I'm not. Why? Because I have better things to do with my time. This is the same reason I didn't steal music from the radio and try to sell it on cassette tape.

The complexity of an encryption key, or a proprietary movie player or some custom CODEC is beyond the scope of what I'm willing to do to play media on my PC. Even if I was running Windows at home I wouldn't be doing this, it's as if the media industry is demanding that we all go out and buy a specific brand of AM/FM tuner to listen to their content.

You Pay Money For This?!? (1)

Mac_8100_g3 (662248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17928718)

Ah Tivo, Nothing like shelling out a little hard earned cash for the privilege of recording mindless tripe off cable. I mean damn, even Discovery and the History Channel have dumbed down their programming to the point of being so elementary one can learn more from a 25 year old copy of World Book Encyclopedia. I myself preferr to watch LINK and Free Speech TV. When I see a documentary or interview I like I buy a copy from them, a worthy cause IMO since some of the money I send goes towards supporting their alternative television network.

Still a 24 hour deadline? (1)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17933124)

The price point for movies is fairly reasonable.
But the FAQ doesn't mention whether or not there is still a 24 hour deadline for finishing the movie/program after you start it. That is my single biggest problem with all the download services. There have been many, many times when I got half way through a movie and was too tired to finish it that night, so I had to wait two or three nights until I had time. I will not use ANY of the download services until this restriction is relaxed. How about thirty days? I think that's reasonable.
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