After a hard day at work, Milo Morelli loves to wind down watching television. But prime viewing is long over by the time he gets home. So, when he heard about a new service that puts a library of programming at your fingertips, he signed on. "I just plop down in a chair, pick up the remote, and watch," says Morelli. He's using something called "Internet-to-TV video-on-demand." "I think it's going to be one of the hottest markets in 2005," says Lance Ulanoff, Executive Editor for PCMag.com. Ulanoff says the market is exploding with new services like Dave TV, Ripe TV, TimeshiftTV and Akimbo.
Online libraries can contain thousands of syndicated, classic and new programs and they're growing. "You can schedule to download a whole bunch of things. It's just sitting there in basically a library of programming. So, the idea is that this is expanding your media experience," says Ulanoff. But you don't watch those programs on your computer, you watch them on your television! When you sign up for a service, you receive a special box that you hook up to your TV, like you would a DVD player. You also connect it to the Internet. "Dial up will not work. So you need broadband access--it can be cable, it can be DSL," says Ulanoff. When you're at home and want to download something, you turn on the box and your TV. A library menu, like a digital card catalogue pops up on the TV screen. You follow the directions and make your selections. "And then, inside of that set top box is a hard drive, an 80-gig hard drive, that stores the video and you can play the video at your convenience," says Steve Shannon, Founder of Akimbo.
But be aware, your choices are limited right now. You won't find some of your favorite shows or major sporting events yet. But the services are negotiating with Hollywood and broadcasters to change that. "Over the next 6-9 months, you're going to see more and more traditional television and cable content and you probably will see a lot more movies, too," says Ulanoff. Right now, you'll find music videos, classic movies and lots of special interest programming. TV lovers like Milo say even if you can't get all the mainstream programs yet, nothing beats being in charge. "The total control you have over the time that you're watching, I'm quite pleased with it in that way," says Milo.
Christine Nelson reporting. firstname.lastname@example.org