Free Internet TV, the Future?

March 19th, 2007 at 12:00 am
 


Internet Radio is really common nowadays. We get some for free and of course premium stations for a price. Its availability is almost too easy that we have it embedded in our IM client applications, blogs, and media players. Just like the transistor radio, internet radio has become a commodity. What about TV? Television has always been the better experience as compared to radio. Its combination of audio and video “killed the radio star” when the first TV's rolled off the production line. Today, will TV also kill the internet radio?

The key ingredient to the success of TV is video. Moving pictures lures users more efficiently than text or audio alone. On the internet, the success of video is proliferating especially after Google baught YouTube for more than a billion dollars. But YouTube is still not TV and radio still provides better ease of entertainment with its seamless continuous programming. So where's the TV on the internet?

 

These are the closest answers we can get to online Television.

iTunes

According to Steve Jobs' recent keynote speech in Macworld 2007 last week, iTunes has sold 150 million videos so far. Given that their iPod is the hottest and most popular mobile media player, a lot of movie and TV companies have tied up with Apple Inc. (Apple Computers Inc.'s new name) to distribute their movies and shows online through iTunes.

iTunes also allows trailers to be viewed for free but this is not anything new since Yahoo and Google do the same as well as the Video 2.0 sites (YouTube and MetaCafe).

Here's the catch 22, you have to buy your shows on iTunes, of course. It has always been an issue since Napster made headlines in the 90's that music and video is not free and producers and record companies must get paid. Honestly, who wants to spend anyway? So, the leading source for free music and video today are the torrent sites, not as easy to use as iTunes but at least they're completely free.

TVU & Meevee

Closer to the real free television experience is a program called TVU Player from TVU networks. TVU Player streams video directly from a satellite TV receiver to the web. Users can then access the video online through the TVU Player. This player actually a flash video streamer similar to the one used by YouTube or MetaCafe. The difference is that TVU Player is an application, it's not web based, installed on the desktop and the source of the video is not a database of videos submitted by users or TV companies but the TV broadcast itself, live and in real time. Some channels of TVU are, CBS, Fox, Star Sports, StarTV, Comedy Central, and MTV. There was a time when they also had HBO and AXN!

I'm not entirely sure if they are a legal company since their website does not really advertise that they're pirates. Actually, I couldn't care less, it's free and it's TV. I could only ask for more channels.

Meevee on the other hand also broadcasts some TV channels but these channels are really the free ones on cable. Meaning, the channels on Meevee are more of public service, college TV, religious Tv and of course shopping TV.

Joost

Code named The Venice Project, Joost released its new name upon releasing their private Beta. There have been releases of screenshots from them but these provide no clues for the kind of shows they will be broadcasting on the web or if they plan to charge users for a subscription. Anyway, from the screenshots, Joost has a very good looking UI.

 

Personally, it would be a utopia when TV gets to be available on the internet for free. I've no idea how they're going to do it or how they (Internet, TV, and Movie Companies) intend to get revenue without charging subscription fees to users. But one thing's for sure, if people cannot watch their favorite TV shows or movies on the internet for free, they will always find a way to go around every billing system ever made and the torrent sites and P2P sharing will always carry high quality-commercial-free TV shows and movies.