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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

TiVo News: Bringing Web video to TV, Offering `Guru Guides'

The thing that's really gonna hurt traditional TV (broadcast and cable) is when there's a relatively easy way to get Internet video delivered to a set-top box, like a TiVo.


My vision is that any video you encounter on the Web would have a "Deliver this to your TV" link next to it, much the same way many newspaper articles have a "E-mail this article" feature. I also think there will be ways to subscribe to video feeds -- a la blogs and RSS -- that will constantly deliver new content to this TV queue for viewing, and also personalization software that follows your preferences and sends video on topics you care about, or by creators you like. (Of course, when you're viewing this stuff on your TV, you'll want to rate it based on how much you enjoyed it, so the software can get smarter.) What happens to traditional channels when they're competing with an evening line-up -- the queue -- that you've designed yourself (with a little help from your personalization software)?


This TiVo announcement, issued yesterday, seems to be a step toward that future. TiVo says content from companies like the New York Times, Cnet, Rocketboom, iVillage, and the NBA will now be available to TiVo subscribers with broadband connections to their TiVo box. (That group doesn't include me -- yet.)


For some reason, they save some of the most important information for the last paragraph of the press release:


    For TiVo's broadband video content partners, the agreement delivers access to more than 400,000 TiVo subscribers and enables consumers to easily access the content directly from their television sets in their homes. TiVo will give these outlets a platform to reach their consumers and enthusiasts in a direct and effective way, providing them a vital opportunity to be profitable through distribution, introduction of advertising, subscription plans, or pay- per-view.

Here's the WSJ coverage, if you're a subscriber.


Another new TiVo feature is the Guru Guide. `Experts' recommend shows, and TiVo users can choose to have them automatically recorded. David Lieberman of USA Today writes:


    Star magazine chief editorial director Bonnie Fuller, for example, will suggest shows about pop culture. Other program pickers will come from Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard, H2O (Hip-Hop on Demand), CNet.com and Automobile Magazine.


    The Guru Guide will be available on the roughly 1.5 million TiVo units owned by direct subscribers to TiVo service. It won't be available to the 2.9 million who get TiVo via DirecTV.


Pre-selected gurus are really nice, but eventually this feature needs to include your friend who has great taste in foreign films, or a colleague at work who never misses a classic sitcom rerun -- basically, anyone who wants to be a guru.


Isn't that the lesson we learned from blogging?