Tivo and Disney Agree On The Future

28 05 2008

An article in today’s Electronista talks about a deal between Tivo and Disney Studios to offer videos on demand from Disney, some of them in HD. TiVo, for those of you living under a rock for the last four or five years, offers a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) service, tied into the consumer’s television — meaning that you can watch downloaded content on your own timeframe, as well as fast forward and backward through the program.

The problem with DVRs, as I talked about in yesterday’s posting, was that you could only watch material which had already aired (or was just then airing) — there was no way to get LITTLE MERMAID if it wasn’t playing on television. The great thing about this announcement is that you will be able to download and watch everything that Disney puts up on the TiVo site, regardless of whether it’s run on television recently. You might be able to see Steamboat Willie (hence the image on the left, courtesy of the BBC) anytime you want.

There is one huge “ah-ha” which is bound to make it much more difficult for the service to catch on than it should be.

TiVo made it clear movies in standard definition will be available for a 24-hour period, although how many HD movies will be available and if the timeframe for watching them will differ from the SD offerings was not specified.

Any number of people have talked about why 24 hours is a ridiculous time frame, myself included (in the post “How Do People Watch Films? And How Does Apple Rent Them?“). Especially for households with children, the idea that you’d be able to rent any film, watch it all in 24 hours, and then never have to watch it again, is preposterous. When my daughter was two, she would have watched THE WIZARD OF OZ about 50 times a week if we let her. The idea that she could complete watching a film in one 24-hour period and then not want to watch it again that week defies belief.

This is going to turn people away from this business model, and dig into the purchase or disc rental side of things, effectively killing this very valuable TiVo concept. It’s too bad, and it’s another example of the entrenched film industry not seeing beyond the tip of their nose, the same nose that they will cut off to spite their face.

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