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Television Media

It's Not TV, It's MythTV 437

Posted by michael
from the i-want-my-mythtv dept.
ChipGuy writes "The New York Times looks at MythTV (an open source PVR technology), Bit Torrent and Videora and how they are disrupting the television business, especially the lucrative business of selling TV DVDs. Unlike the music industry, television folks are trying to get ahead of the curve and offer TV downloads in a legal and easy to use manner."
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It's Not TV, It's MythTV

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  • Finally... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:04PM (#11522526)
    An entertainment industry which realizes that if it treats it own customers like criminals, they won't exactly be creating good will...
    • Re:Finally... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nomadic (141991)
      Unfortunately good will really doesn't mean much, a fact which companies learned long ago. And let's be honest, if your consuming one unit of their products, and preventing them for making sales of a thousand units of their product, they don't care if they lose you as a customer.
    • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chemical (49694) <nkessler2000@hot ... minus herbivore> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @05:58PM (#11523442) Homepage
      Yeah whatever. For one, most TV stations are owned by MPAA members, and we all see how they treat consumers. Two, wasn't it the CEO of Turner who said that "skipping commercials is stealing."? If that's the "good will" of the TV industry, I'd hate to see them hostile.

      In other words, don't expect the TV industry to be the messiah of digital, downloadable content. They have too much invested in the current infrastructure, and they are too closely tied to the bass-ackwards film industry to have them swoop down to be our savior.

    • Re:Finally... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tm2b (42473)
      Ummmmm.

      If you're not paying for their content, or not providing them with the viewers they need to charge money to their advertisers, you're not their customer.
    • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sacrilicious (316896) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:21PM (#11525327) Homepage
      Finally... An entertainment industry which realizes that if it treats it own customers like criminals, they won't exactly be creating good will..

      To paraphrase Syndrome's observation in The Incredibles: the only reason the industry is paying attention is because the leverage possessed by its consumers is a threat. A *threat* gets their attention. Nothing else... not, for example, a simple desire to please their customers or create good will.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:05PM (#11522529)
    The reason TV ratings are plummetting is because TV is full of idiotic shows that make women look perfect and men look like a bunch of retards. If TV people want their ratings to improve maybe they should consider making some shows that dont suck ass.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:45PM (#11522867)
      The women look like a bunch of retards too.
    • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @05:45PM (#11523342)
      The reason TV ratings are plummetting is because TV is full of idiotic shows that make women look perfect and men look like a bunch of retards
      WOW! You noticed this too, huh? To lend a little more legitimacy to this AC's opinion, I'll second it. Turn on TV at any given time in prime time and you'll see some moron man (Everyone Loves Raymond) being bossed around by his bitchy wife. I'm not gonna watch shit like that, and if any marketing people are reading this, you had better put back something on the air I am gonna watch -- not a sappy drama, not an immasculating sitcom, and not a braindead talent search. I'm a middle class male and my pockets are overflowing with money, entertain me already.

      And if TV isn't going to entertain me, then I'm going to watch Family Guy and Futurama reruns until the cows come home. Or I'm just going to throw the damn TV out the window and go find entertainment on the Internet. Because playing Enemy Territory is a heluvalot more entertaining than watching a frigin busload of women redecorate their houses and elimidate each other.
      • by TheHonestTruth (759975) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @06:10PM (#11523514) Journal
        Turn on TV at any given time in prime time and you'll see some moron man (Everyone Loves Raymond) being bossed around by his bitchy wife. I'm not gonna watch shit like that

        and...

        And if TV isn't going to entertain me, then I'm going to watch Family Guy and Futurama reruns until the cows come home

        Wow. I wish I could even convey my disbelief. Let me hit you with the clue stick a couple times: In Family Guy, Peter is an idiot. In fact, the entire show centers around this. Same with Fry. Who are the intelligent, assertive characters that typically point out their counterparts' idiocy? Peg and Leela. You are too retarded for words.

        -truth

        • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @06:26PM (#11523667)
          Both those cartoons are entirely tongue in cheek. They are satires. The sitcoms are not, though they are meant to portray humorous situations the mode of behavioural interaction between spouses is meant to be "realistic" rather than satirical. Big difference, boy.
      • by aussie_a (778472) on Monday January 31, 2005 @12:17AM (#11525855) Journal
        Turn on TV at any given time in prime time and you'll see some moron man (Everyone Loves Raymond) being bossed around by his bitchy wife. I'm not gonna watch shit like that

        Neither am I. I get enough of it at home.
      • watching a frigin busload of women redecorate their houses and elimidate each other

        Man, I think you're on to something! Women redocorating shit, then going on dates with each other (hot! hot! think the US market is ready for this? Maybe try euroland first), and at the end of the evenening eliminating one of their own (did she go too far on the first date? not far enough? eliminate!). Behold the elimidate!
    • It's funny because it's true.
    • TV is full of idiotic shows that make women look perfect

      Have ya watched "Joey?"

      In high-def?

      I used to think Drea de Matteo was hot - very sexy on the Sopranos. Then I watched a few episodes of Joey in 1920x1080. She is worn out. Hardly looking perfect and then there is her character, quite far from perfect. On that show, everyone is a total doofus.

      Sometimes the nephew isn't quite as big a doofus as everyone else, but that's about it.
      Heck, Ling's character is a parody of the "perfect woman" -- she lo
    • Here in Finland there's five major tv channels. Four of them suck and one has all the good shows from Star Trek to Sailor Moon, from Knight Rider to Neon Genesis Evangelion. Guess which one doesn't show where I live ?

      Well, at least the other channels have Get Smart...

  • Before it's /.ed (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fyre2012 (762907) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:05PM (#11522532) Homepage Journal
    Videora, like TiVo for Torrents

    A few days ago, I wrote about Videora, a BitTorrent+RSS client which makes it easy for folks to find and download torrent files from the web. The post, picked up by others generated mostly positive responses to the software. Think of Videora as TiVo-for-torrent, using RSS feeds. In an effort to shed more light to the product, I did an e-interview (via email) with Sajeeth Cherian, a Canadian student, who has hacked together this wonderful product. Here are excerpts from an e-interview.

    OM: Tell me a little bit about yourself?

    SC: I am a student attending Carleton University, which is located Ottawa, Canada's Capital. I am in my final year, perusing a degree in Communication Engineering and let me tell you, engineering is as hard as everyone says it is. Lately I've been interning at a couple high tech firms around the Ottawa region to get some real world experience and finish up the work experience requirement for my degree.

    OM: What prompted you to write Videora?

    SC: My roommate likes to watch anime and constantly scours the web looking for his favorite anime to download. (Anime is the Japanese term for Japanese animation, cartoons that are broadcast in Japan and which are then subtitled into English by groups of volunteers or commercial companies). About once a week he would complain to me how he was wasting all this time searching for these shows. I think he was wishing that these shows would just somehow download themselves. Well after a few weeks I got sick of hearing his complaints so I decide to look for a solution to his problem.

    OM: Now aren't you a good roommate? mine just finished my cup-a-noodles and never replenished the pantry. Still, RSS? SC: After searching some of his favorite anime BitTorrent sites, I came across one site which offered an RSS feed. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a simple format that is used by web sites to send article headlines, summaries and links back to full-text articles on the web. Anyways, this RSS feed was special, instead of linking to articles on the internet, it linked directly to the very BitTorrent files that these sites linked to on their web pages. By simply scanning the RSS feed and downloading the desired BitTorrent files it linked to, I concluded that he could download his anime automatically without ever having to surf to an anime BitTorrent website again.

    After discovering this RSS feed I began to envision a product. Some thing simple, which allows users to find shows easily and a couple clicks later (after the shows are added to their 'season tickets') would automatically download these shows to their hard drives in the background. With this, users wouldn't have to look for certain video to download, because the video they want would already be on their hard drive. Thus giving them free time to do more interesting things, rather than scour the same old websites. This seemed like a killer idea with more potential than just quieting my roommate so I began to develop this idea into computer software. Along the way, I added a few other features including the ability to aggregate video files into 'want lists' which allows users to easily manually download videos of interest. Needless to say, my roommate doesn't complain to me anymore. :-)

    OM: I have seen that most of the cutting edge work on peer-to-peer and torrent type programs is happening outside of the US? Does being in Canada make it easier to work on such P2P products? SC: I don't think being in Canada makes it any easier than being in the United States to work on peer to peer products. Anyone, from any country can work on a peer to peer program without any trouble, all you need is a little computer programming know how. I read recently about a professor at Princeton who wrote a P2P product in 15 lines of code. I don't think he had any trouble producing it.

    OM: What do you think is the impact of BitTorrent, RSS and other such technologies is going to be on the media - both d
  • myth (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ottothecow (600101) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:05PM (#11522536) Homepage
    MythTV is one of the most promising linux products for encouraging people to try.

    A MythTV PVR isnt so hard to make for the slightly above average user and is a great excuse to try linux.

    • "A MythTV PVR isnt so hard to make for the slightly above average user and is a great reason to try linux"

      fixed.

    • Re:myth (Score:5, Informative)

      by MadChicken (36468) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @10:13PM (#11525273) Homepage Journal
      I did it, and I have lots of experience with Linux (my first distribution was XDenu!). I've tried almost everything in Linux.

      MythTV was hard. I loaded up KnoppMyth, and immediately needed to tweak it so I could use LVM on my video partition. OK, no big deal, there are good HOWTOs.

      Soon, I absolutely needed to update the kernel to 2.6 because ndiswrapper on my wireless NIC panicked the kernel.

      Sound has always been a struggle. One kernel worked clearly with OSS but crashed the sound driver on recording way too often. The next kernel didn't work at all with OSS so I needed ALSA (which I preferred anyway) but now the sound is not great. Very distorty.

      And the absolute toughest was getting a serial IR dongle to change channels on the satellite box. I needed to custom-build a second instance of lirc and mess around with the IR pulse parameters (like randomly changing the numbers this way or that). No documentation apart from "change these numbers"

      I got it working, and I absolutely LOVE my mythbox, but more than once I contemplated Windows MCE, so I could just get the dumb thing working without so much fuss. I just wanna watch some TV...!
      • Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Andy Dodd (701)
        MythTV wasn't hard to get running for you due to design deficiencies in MythTV - It was hard for you to get running due to bad hardware. Every problem you describe with MythTV other than the IR blaster issue looked like non-Myth-specific hardware problems to me.

        With good hardware, MythTV is easy to get running. The hardest part on my Gentoo box was getting ivtv (drivers for Hauppauge PVR-x50 cards, etc) running on 2.6.
  • BitTorrent=Free. Slow and obnoxious, but free.

    TV Downloads official=Not free.

    BitTorrent>Official downloads. We live in a very capitalistic society, or at least most of us do. It makes sense that if you can get something for free, why would you pay for it? Even if that means not getting a third season of that great tv show...

    Even so, shutting down the BitTorrent sites, as sad as it is, well placed advertising, and a few gestapo style raids will make a difference. Until a new technology for sharing e

    • How is BT slow and obnoxious? Perhaps you're confusing the screwed up message board sites with the actual protocol.
    • BitTorrent=Free. Slow and obnoxious, but free.

      TV Downloads official=Not free.


      But if Offical downloads are fast and less obnoxious and easily available to everyone regardless of where in the world they live, then the TCD (Total cost of downloading) for Offical downloads approaches and perhaps even beats unoffical downloads.

      At that point, the only people who will still download all their TV shows illegally are those who either can't afford the legal option or object to paying to watch TV that they want to
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:19PM (#11522669) Journal
        But if Offical downloads are fast and less obnoxious and easily available to everyone regardless of where in the world they live...

        This is the important point. Available to everyone in the world at the same time. If it's a choice between getting a TV show via BitTorrent now, or watching it on TV (or via a legal download service) next year, guess which one people are going to choose? I would be more than happy to pay directly for the TV shows I watch (very few at the moment) for the convenience watching them when I choose, for not being forced to watch adverts, and for the pleasure of knowing that the money was going to those who made TV shows I want to watch, and none of it was going to reality TV producers.

      • by stinerman (812158) <nathan.stineNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:21PM (#11522681) Homepage
        can't afford the legal option

        Since this demographic cannot afford the legal option, they never were a possible customer.

        Obviously, you can't claim a loss to someone who can't afford your product*, but I'm betting the distributors will anyway.

        *That is unless it is an item that decreases the amount of items that can be sold to other customers. Since downloads are limitless, it applies here.
        • you're missing out an important aspect here : rolemodel punishment. By letting the so called 'poor' customers get away with not paying, the ones that could perhaps pay will associate them with the non paying ones. So the *IAA will go after poor ones, even though they know it won't make a difference dollar-wise.

          That's not economics, but sociology.
          • That may be. Personally, I would be glad to pay more than $1 to keep some of my favorite shows in production (Coupling, ST: Enterprise, Futurama, etc.).

            The way to get people to pay that can is to open the books to the public for any particular show.

            Exec: "See folks, we can't afford to bring you another season of Popular Show #15 because not enough people are paying for it. Sorry, but if some of you non-payers paid, we might be able to bring back Popular Show #15 for another season."

            If the books are not
    • I try to pay for music and movies. I only download movies if they aren't available on DVD, or in my favorite theatre. I only download music if I only want one or two songs from the person. If I want lots, I'll buy the CD.
    • We live in a very capitalistic society, or at least most of us do. It makes sense that if you can get something for free, why would you pay for it? Even if that means not getting a third season of that great tv show...

      I guess you have never paid for bottled water, or know anyone that has.

      It is precisely because we DO live in a capitalistic society that someone will figure out how to sell a product that the public could otherwise get for free (and this is not a slam on capitalism).
    • There is a price to everything, including your own time.

      You are writing that BT is slow and obnoxious. People have to pay for bandwidth and their own time. Few people want to spend their Sundays downloading music or TV show from weird places. They just want it quickly and painlessly.

      That means not too expensive, but it can carry a price and people will still buy it.

  • Already beaten? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Faust7 (314817) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:07PM (#11522555) Homepage
    "We have to try as an industry to get ahead of this and give the audience an attractive model before the illegal file-sharer providers meet their needs," said David F. Poltrack, CBS Television's executive vice president for research and planning.

    Unfortunately, the "illegal file-sharer providers" kind of already meet my needs. I've no need for 90% of the TV channels currently available, or the commercials that are on nearly all of them. All I need are the few shows that I follow. Click, click, BitTorrent away!

    Of course, none of these files give me super-high-quality video and audio. For that, I will buy the DVDs.
  • Argh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:08PM (#11522563)
    Not surprisingly, the repercussions - particularly the rapidly growing number of shows available for the plucking online - terrify industry executives, who remember only too well what Napster and other file-sharing programs did to the music industry. They fret that if unchecked, rampant trading of files will threaten the riches of the relatively new and surprisingly lucrative television DVD business. It could endanger sales of television shows to international markets and into syndication.

    Then why don't they fucking sell their shit online in a convenient, reliable format? Or don't they want to learn from the music industry, instead ignoring the solutions and only imagining the problems?

    And it could further endanger what for the past 50 years has been television's economic linchpin: the 30-second commercial.

    That *particular* business model is dying, and legislation should not protect it, just as "horseless carriages" shouldn't be required to carry horse whips to keep horse whip manufacturers in business. Note I didn't say *advertizing* or commercialism is dying, because it isn't. Merchants have managed to get information about their products to people, and subsequently have them purchased, over the years and through changing technology. Tomorrow will be no different. It's just that the volume of revenue from "forced" advertising, supporting $1M/show paychecks for actors, might not still be there.

    And what a tragedy that would be...
    • Or don't they want to learn from the music industry, instead ignoring the solutions and only imagining the problems?
      I think you'll find that the same companies dominate both businesses.
    • Re:Argh... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gregmac (629064) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @06:29PM (#11523696) Homepage
      And it could further endanger what for the past 50 years has been television's economic linchpin: the 30-second commercial.


      That *particular* business model is dying, and legislation should not protect it

      I was thinking about this just a few weeks ago, and I think that the current cable companies have the technology to overcome a bunch of problems here, without obsoleting this business model (which makes it more likely to happen).

      Most people who have TV have probably said/thought at some point "wow, 200 channels, and nothing to watch". Me and my roommate have a fairly large collection of shows we watch, which is pretty nice because it makes it a lot easier to follow a series, as well as you can watch whenever you want. I got thinking how the cable companies could do something similar using their video-on-demand systems they currently use for movies.

      Say you have a system where you go to the channel, and you get a list of shows to pick from. When you pick one, it instantly starts playing that. What does this do? It allows the viewer to watch what they want, when they want, yet still leaves a fairly large amount of control with the station, and also importantly, leaves the concept of a "tv station" in place.

      Obviously if you try to start a system where the cable providers do everything, and TV stations themselves are obsoleted, it's not likely to get very far - there would just be too much opposition. Each "channel" would provide their own limited list of shows, and there are lots of ways of providing them. For example, you could allow the user to select "The Simpsons" and see one simpsons episode that day (each day you'd air a new one). You could also provide a list of a few, or even all, episodes to watch. This could in fact start a new breed of specialty stations that provide ie, every simpsons, family guy, and futurama episode (and hell, I'd subscribe to that).

      Another power it leaves in control of the station is the ability to air commercials. This is a huge power - you could presumably get info on what the person watchs and tailor ads to each viewer (of course this is fraught with privacy issues, and being slashdot, I'm sure I'll get jumped on for suggesting that). You would also be able to air current ads, even if they're watching a show that originally aired a long time ago (basically, syndication).

      The station would also be able to overlay text in real-time, much like they do now. Down at the bottom: "New epsiode available next Sunday at 8pm!". They could still air live events (sporting, etc), and basically if you want to watch it, you have to tune in at the time it's on, or wait until it's over and gets archived for on-demand viewing.

      In the end, you get a system that would benefit both sides: the viewer gets to watch what they want, when they want. The station still gets to get revenue from commercials, still acts like a "tv station" (with promos for their shows), and hopefully gets to curb some downloading, since why download when you can just watch it without having to get out of your couch?

      Yes, it means that the viewer still has to watch commercials. The trade off, I'd hope, is that there is no extra fee for this service, it would just be a standard offering. Cable boxes could be set to accept either these enhanced stations, or the normal broadcasts.. if you tune to a station with enhanced features, then you get those extras. Satellite providers of course could do the same, but it would require either a two-way satellite (upstream is going to be low-bandwidth anyways) or a broadband or other constant internet connection (the current method of dialing up, picking a show, and disconnecting would be too slow).

      I'm guessing that the majority of this could be done with current technology. Video on demand movies already work this way from the viewer's end. The stations or cable companies would just have to write the head-end software to insert commercials and promos.
    • Uh, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FunWithHeadlines (644929) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @06:43PM (#11523804) Homepage
      "terrify industry executives, who remember only too well what Napster and other file-sharing programs did to the music industry"

      Ugh. I hate it when industry propaganda gets reprinted by reporters without comment or common sense. OK, let's talk about this sentence. What exactly did happen to the music industry? During the rise of P2P, their business improved. Then a recession hit, and their business slowed. They then attacked their customers, which is bad for business too. Then iTunes and the like came out, and the recession eased, and business went up.

      So what exactly went wrong for the music industry?! They certainly moaned about losing business, but check out those bottom lines and you'll see they are still in business and raking in the billions, thank you very much. Bah! Bad, John Markoff! Repeating industry propaganda is not good for a reporter to be taken seriously.

  • ANT is a video aggregator for video blogs. Check it out! [antnottv.org]

    Also, WritTorrent [sf.net] has a plugin that lets you post to your blog a .torrent of whatever.

    I honestly think that BitTorrent + RSS is a perfect software model of a worldwide broadcast. Despite your available bandwidth, you can host a show with a global audience.
  • by prisen (578061) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:11PM (#11522591)
    From TFA:
    Mr. Poltrack of CBS said that according to his network's research, a large number of viewers would welcome the chance to pay $1 to watch each television show, if they could do it on their own schedule and with the ability to skip commercials. With commercials, they'd be willing to pay 50 cents. And because the average viewer sees only half of a show's episodes, he said, this on-demand viewing won't hurt the regular showing.

    Hey, somebody's on the right track! I pay $1 for a commercial/DRM/BS-free copy of insert-name-of-TV-show-here and I can do what I want with it. $0.50 wouldn't be bad at all with commercials, either. If the quality didn't suck, and I could watch it an unlimited number of times, that'd be perfect. The only thing I wouldn't ask to be able to do would be to share it with the world, but I should be able to at least burn it to a CD/DVD and whatever else I should normally be able to do within fair use.

    But will it ever happen?
  • "After coming up with the idea for the product..."
    • He used the word "product" for a P2P tool. Here come the lawsuits.
  • by EvilStein (414640) <spam@@@pbp...net> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:17PM (#11522643) Homepage
    "It could endanger sales of television shows to international markets and into syndication."

    Region encoding sucks. Downloaded shows don't suffer from stupid region encoding. I see syndicated shows that also have DVD box sets, so where's the issue there? The DVDs still sell.

    "from video-on-demand offerings that could let viewers order up an episode of "CSI" any time they like to a device that allows viewers who tune into the middle of a live TV broadcast to restart the program instantly"

    Comcast has ads for that all over this area but I don't know of one single person that actually has the VOD feature available to them, and isn't it more costly as well? You have to have digital cable (iirc) which can run your cable bill well over $100/mo (more if you have a cable modem too) - that's a lot of dough.
    Are the VOD shows commercial free, too? That would be nice to know..

    Of course they're going to blame the PVR as well. There are a few things that media execs seem to overlook:
    * People are SICK AND TIRED of advertising.
    * People have busy schedules and would LIKE to watch TV shows, but cannot always watch them right when they're aired. Hence, the popularity of DVR units.
    (I'm not even going to get into the "but you don't have a right to steal the content" crap, because I sure as hell don't think that downloading a TV show is "stealing content" when my Tivo does the exact same thing.)

    And last but not least, the "Broadcast Flag" is going to be a total and complete failure.. just like the "V-Chip."
    • Concerning VOD, I can only speak to what my father has at his home (TW in NE Ohio district).

      Most VOD programs are simply small selections of a daily program. For instance, a 5 minute segment of The Daily Show is available on demand. Hardly ever did I see an entire episode of anything, except some Aqua Teen ... which I decided to watch.

      Just after I pressed the play button, I was called away for a moment. I didn't worry about missing anything because I could always rewind it or restart, etc. After being
    • Region encoding sucks. Downloaded shows don't suffer from stupid region encoding. I see syndicated shows that also have DVD box sets, so where's the issue there? The DVDs still sell.

      What a lot of people don't know is that when a show goes into syndication, it's only a subset of the episodes, usually the ones with lower ratings. This way they can show a rerun of the higher-rated episodes and still get people to tune-in and not think, I saw this on the local channel 50 times already. When was the last tim

    • And last but not least, the "Broadcast Flag" is going to be a total and complete failure.. just like the "V-Chip."


      Just like Macrovision on all VHS and DVD releases.. When it's mandated, we will have it. The video stabelizer for it will just cost more and be harder to find, but the broadcast flag will be there. You won't have the option of using it like with the V chip, just like you don't have the option of buying a consumer VCR with a manual gain control. (Macrovision screws with the Automatic Gain
  • Could be good... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Starji (578920) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:17PM (#11522644)
    Unlike the music industry, television folks are trying to get ahead of the curve and offer TV downloads in a legal and easy to use manner.

    If the television networks or maybe the producers want to allow me to download their shows w/out ads, the same day they're aired at a fast download speed for a reasonable rate, then I'd probably bite. I sure as hell won't buy a DVD set of a single season of any TV show for fifty bucks. Maybe a subscription service for 20-30 bucks a month that lets me download the shows I want might be worth it to me.

    Of course what I just described is a pipe dream, so for the moment I'll remain content with the hdtv rips available.
  • Thinkingest [thinkingest.com] is also a commercial entity providing BT+RSS solutions. Since the greater thing we're talking about here is the combination of W3C's vision of the semantic web along with a peer-to-peer protocol that is abstracted in such a way that it can be dedicated to just one specific file, separate from any central index of all kinds of other stuff you may or may not want. There is lot of research around this, and whether it's BT or RSS, versus OpenNap and RDF... it doesn't matter... Using existing stand
  • iTV (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dunsurfin (570404) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:20PM (#11522671)
    I would pay for individual shows. At the moment I watch about a hour a week of television - most programs insult the intelligence of the average viewer, the adverts that fill 15 minutes of the hour are crass and bombastic. If there is a good quality show then I watch it through NetFlix. On my schedule, and without the adverts (although the "previews" on DVDs that you cannot skip are starting to annoy the hell out of me).

    However, what would make my life more convenient is if there was something like iTunes (iTV?) where for a small fee (50 cents a show, possibly a dollar) I could download and burn the show of my choice.

    Admittedly I could use P2P to find the show for free, but I would rather have the convenience of a sophisticated search interface and quick downloads.

    I wonder how the US networks will react when the BBC finally posts it's huge archive of shows on the web.
  • Has anyone tried Media Portal [sourceforge.net]? It's an open source Windows MCE look-alike/replacement. Written completely in C#, no less (I believe). I'm thinking about replacing my TiVo with an open-source PVR, and I'm not sure which one to go with, MythTV or MediaPortal. Has anyone tried both? If so, any recommendations? (And please, no "Linux vs Microsoft" as for the operating system -- it's just the user-land software that I care about.)
    • Xlobby [xlobby.com] is also a good choice with a great community, too. I have an XSL-T plugin for it to turn most RSS-enclosure feeds into the Xlobby database. You can get it WritTorrent [sf.net].
      • Interesting. I went to the site. It says that Xlobby is freeware, but does not say that it's opensource. I didn't download to verify... I have a requirement for it to be open source, because there are some things I'd love to add (or at least ATTEMPT to add). :)
  • by timothy (36799) * on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:21PM (#11522678) Homepage Journal
    I think more because of a natural human tendency to polaraize, exaggerate and simplify than because this is the true situation, the worlds of "pro-" and "anti-" when it comes to this sort of thing are often drawn as two completely incompatible world views, no overlap, nothin'. Either you're an Evil Pirate (arr!) in the eyes of the benevolent and morally impregnable Copyright Holders, or a regressive Copyright Tyrant in the eyes of the Splendid Kids.

    Instead, there's a much finer gradation in the real world. I have some music that I've found on the net (most of it in almost certain violation of copyright, but most of it music either not widely available, such as small-run remixes or out-of-print recordings), and I've watched some episodes of TV shows like the Simpsons that my dad's taped over the years. (Before I bought him a boxed set of a couple of seasons, that is.) Some of it's pretty ambiguous -- some laws are a hindrance to perfectly reasonable day-to-day actions, and the law is of necessity always playing catch-up. (And I wouldn't want it *not* to be playing catch-up; the alternative is far scarier.) For instance, I like to listen to old radio shows; many of them are now in the public domain, some of them are of ambiguous copyright, and usually listed (I think quite sincerely) on the websites of collectors with earnest invitations to report if a particular episode thought free and clear is not. I've never been able to work up much moral indignation with myself for listening to widely available audio material that I'd never otherwise encounter.

    (And moderate, curious downloading, no matter what the copyright issues, seems qualitatively different to me than proudly downloading current popular music by the bucketload just to fill up Ye Olde iPodde, to "stick it to the Man" or whatever. High-end grocery stores I've been in don't mind customers sampling a grape or two; they know it increases sales either directly or through generated goodwill. That doesn't mean that carting out a case of oranges is the same thing. There are slipper slopes going both ways, I realize, but there are some slippery slopes worth venturing around the upper stretches of, or something.)

    Appropriate moderation also applies to the whole concept of copyright. I'm not opposed to copyright (in fact, as societal constructs go, I think it's high on the Good list), but [even / especially] as a rabid free marketeer, I know that copyright is an extended rather than a natural right; the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, by contrast, are inalienable. Copyright is different -- it's a societal convention codified in law, to grant certain privileges (temporary monopoly) in exchange for certain later transfers (into the public domain). It shouldn't mean people can't remember and repeat lyrics, and (let me whack an obvious mole), it shouldn't mean that superficial cultural aspects like the words to Happy Birthday are forever off limits to TV characters. Copyright law is perhaps not as broken as patent law, but it needs some overhauling. Specifically, I'd like to see the temporary monopoly bit be clarified as applying specifically to wide-scale copying likely to affect commerical endeavors of the copyright holder. This still leaves messy edges, but ones I think easier to deal with the current system's mess.

    With TV, back to the Simpsons box set: I'd not see much moral problem with anything I do (record, re-watch, commerical skip, dub with voices of my relatives, use as the inspiration for a novel) with television shows unless I've explicitly and with full knowledge promised not to do those things. But for certain shows (glad to see Northern Exposure's box sets, and Monk's) I'd *like* to get liner notes, extra features, snippets, outtakes, etc, and paying for them seems fair. [On the other hand, when DVDs are available from the library, is there moral harm in recording them for later watching, before handing them back to the library? For private, non-commerical use, is the maker actually likely to lose revenue fr
  • by EvilStein (414640) <spam@@@pbp...net> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:21PM (#11522689) Homepage
    "Mr. Poltrack of CBS said that according to his network's research, a large number of viewers would welcome the chance to pay $1 to watch each television show, if they could do it on their own schedule and with the ability to skip commercials. With commercials, they'd be willing to pay 50 cents. And because the average viewer sees only half of a show's episodes, he said, this on-demand viewing won't hurt the regular showing."

    Pretty much sums it up right there. Viewers want to watch it when THEY have time, and WITHOUT advertising.
    People are SICK TO DEATH of advertising. Anyone seen the Caltrain cars on the SF peninsula that are "wrapped" with a Target Stores advertisement? They make Caltrain $25,000/month. Riders *HATE* them. The recent Caltrain newsletter actually has comments from riders saying that they hate them, but Caltrain goes with them because of the cash flow.
    Corporations love ads. People hate them. Corporations have more money than people. People want less ads on TV, corporations want more. People try to skip ads with ReplayTV, corporations bitch to the courts. I hate how it all works.
    • For me personally, if I can have a convenient torrent of a simple non-DRM file that I can archive, and keep, I would be willing to watch a few ads. The things that keeps me off broadcast TV is that 90% of it sucks, especially from the states. Like some fellow slashdotters, I download Regenesis and some British shows because I just can't get them here. Another thing is that I don't want to dedicate my schedule to being a media consumer. Sorry, I have better things to do. I typically download shows once
  • by agraupe (769778) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:23PM (#11522702) Journal
    Well, I think TV downloads would work, because, unlike movies and music, TV is offered free of charge to start with (with the exception of commericial-free stations). Also, TV is a one-shot deal (except for PVRs), so I, for one, wouldn't be as opposed to DRM. Also, I could stand a "free" download of a show, where you get it with commericals, and a "premium" commerical-free option. It's not like I can't stand any commericals; it's just stupid ones, or when they get shown twice in a row. Perhaps you could block certain commericals, and the commericals would be custom-added to each show (or several different commerical themes, so men don't have to watch Tampax commericals and the like).
  • The reason I still have to rent a cable box is because my incoming signal comes in scrambled.

    NOW - if I buy a cable descrambler, that would be illegal, right?

    But surely you can set up MythTV or the like to do the same thing in software (I assume the cable box does it in firmware but I don't actually know.)

    So - would software that does the same thing be illegal, or not?

    And can MythTV do this?
    • I once saw a piece of software called fscktv that would descramble scrambled analog cable signals if you had exactly the right chips in your video card (which I don't). However, most of the interesting content is moving over to digital cable. If you don't have digital cable at all, in theory, the cable company can install a filter that will block out those frequencies entirely. Even if they don't, many of the channels may be encrypted, and there are no reports of anyone cracking that encryption yet.
    • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @05:12PM (#11523082) Homepage
      It's perfectly legeal in the USA to buy a cable descrambler. You can't use it to access content you don't have the legal right to access already (like HBO, if you aren't paying for HBO) but it's been legeal for many years.

      I've had folks ask what legitimate use anyone could possibly have for a cable descrambler -- I've had one for a few years.

      My TiVo has a lifetime subscription (which is for the lifetime of the box) but the antenna connection is busted, so i can't just plug it into the cable line. I bought a cable box off eBay for $25 and use it to give me an SVideo feed into my TiVo -- problem solved. Yeah, i could pay TiVo $50 to fix my box, and be without it for 4-6 weeks. Or I could "rent" a cable box from my cable company for $5-15 a month. My solution works and is exactly the kind of situation the US Congress was thinking about when they eliminated the monopoly on cable boxes.
  • by game kid (805301) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:26PM (#11522719) Homepage
    ...and still nothing on.
  • Unfortunately (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:38PM (#11522813) Homepage
    Unlike the music industry, television folks are trying to get ahead of the curve and offer TV downloads in a legal and easy to use manner."

    Unfortunately probably not an affordable one. Have you priced TV DVDs lately? Something like Law and Order is like... 40 bucks a season or something. And there's like nine seasons. That's insane, and I don't think it's the cost of the media that's setting this price. I think it's that they're setting that price because they're expecting you'll pay it, and I think they can just as reasonably expect they can set comparable prices on internet media and you'll still pay it. Well, I for one won't pay it. And I don't think we're going to see TV downloads reasonably priced enough that the cost is less of an imposition than the bother of me paying money to see Aqua Teen Hunger Force on my computer instead of waiting until Adult Swim time, going downstairs to my neighbor's apartment who has cable, and saying "hey can I watch your tv for a little bit?"

    Look-- there's this place in New York. It's called the Museum of Television History or something and it's just this little nondescript place on the bottom couple floors of some skyscraper. They've got the entire last 60 years of television on tape. Not quite all of it, but all of it that's been preserved by anyone. That's what they do. They preserve television history. And if you go in and pay them... I don't know, It was like $8 or $12 or something rediculously cheap, they'll let you cram in as many people as you can fit into these little nicely furnished viewing booths and watch in comfort three television programs of your choice out of everything ever recorded. Now that's a nice offer.

    That's not what we're going to get. By the time the dust settles and these services are up, we're going to get like.. select from this wide variety of random television programs, some of which are the ones you might actually want to watch, and we'll let you watch them once with periodic graphical glitches, hunched over in your cramped little computer chair with the tinny sound, after a 10-minute buffering session. You can watch that TV show you've forgotten from the 80s with the kid who can stop time because her dad is an alien for just a dollar an episode! Oh, what, you'd rather watch Law and Order? Well, that costs a lot more. You'd rather watch Sliders? Well, we have about six unlabeled episodes from different seasons, so good luck following the plot. But, hey, you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You can watch the show's entire run for just the equivalent price of a new XBox and two RPGs which cumulatively take 120 hours to finish! You like Sifl and Olly? Oh, sorry. Go watch the show from the 80s with the alien kid instead. But isn't our service great? Aren't you grateful that we're offering you on aribtrary terms and at relatively steep prices the same uneven entertainment that we offered at one time for free, and that you could continue legally to watch for free indefinitely if you or someone you know had just been forward-thinking enough to turn on their VCRs the first time they were broadcast? Man, those people who still download tv shows over bittorrent must just be so greedy.

    It's bullshit. Much as it pains me to say Russia got something right, we really need to copy their compulsory copyright licensing program [allofmp3.com].
    • Re:Unfortunately (Score:3, Insightful)

      by realdpk (116490)
      Unfortunately probably not an affordable one. Have you priced TV DVDs lately? Something like Law and Order is like... 40 bucks a season or something.

      I dunno, I'd call that affordable. That's probably a couple bucks an episode, max? And without commercials, and possibly with extra features (some of which people may not want, *shrug*).
  • by amigabill (146897) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:49PM (#11522899)
    Interestig how they mix MythTV in with commentary about people sharing TV shows on the internet. I have a MythTV box, which occasionally actually works (gentoo emerge updates often mangle something in there and breaks the machine, I'm currently trying to recover from such a mangling now), but I have no filesharing programs for Linux. I haven't got Samba worknig right to my Windows box either, but I can't remember the last time I used one there.

    Turned out a waste of time, I tried downloading episodes of shows I missed that week, such as the first episode of Alias this season when I did not know they moved to Wed. night instead of their old Sunday timeslot. I never get a complete file, so I quit trying...

    But really, how is downloading the episode of a show I missed last night stealing? It ain't for sale on DVD yet, or I'd buy it like I already got the first three seasons of Alias. As for commercial DVDs vs MythTV recordings, I'd rather have the DVDs. I've got a PVR-250 TV card, but the quality isn't nearly as good as DVDs. The quality often is rather disappointing on my recordings.

    I had for a while kept recordings of Futurama reruns, but ended up getting DVDs because they look so much better on my TV, and that's a freakin' cartoon that shouldn't be affected by quality as bad as live actors and stuff should.

    I dont' often even bother to skip commercials. It still gives me a place to visit the kitchen or restroom. And while I have seen the quote from some TV executive that those things qualify as stealing TV, sorry dude, but when nature calls, that's more important than watching another instance of some ad I've already seen way too many times.
  • by thasmudyan (460603) <udo@schroeter.gmail@com> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @04:52PM (#11522920) Homepage
    If there was a way to legally download all the fresh shows that I want to see, I'd pay a few bucks per episode. But that isn't going to happen because of market segmentation politics. See, I live in Germany, where shows only come up on TV a few years after they aired in the States, which really sucks.

    By downloading them off the net, I can get them now, without the sucky translation - but it's also illegal. It's lose-lose all the way. I have given up hope of enjoying the shows just like a normal viewer in the USA can, long ago. DRM is going to make us pay very thoroughly. And by paying I don't only mean money but also the freedom to choose content you want in a format you want.

    Despite all this stuff like MythTV, thinks aren't exactly looking so bright on the consumer front.
  • Non-Zero (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thinkninja (606538) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @05:00PM (#11522978) Homepage Journal
    This could be a win for everybody. The best part of tvtorrents isn't so much that they're free but they're amazingly convienient. No adverts, watch them when you want, hdtv quality -- they're just fantastic value, even at $1.

    And if a portion of the money goes directly back to the show's production instead of subsidizing some reality tv crap, then all the better.

    Although, I'll hold judgement until we actually see an iShows.com that offers all that they promise.
  • Msg to TV companies. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tmortn (630092) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @05:06PM (#11523029) Homepage
    The number of people giving up TV altogether because of insane advert times. Inane advert content. Repetitive inane advert content is going up. The reason TV DVD's are so suprisingly popular is that people can watch them on their terms. Their are no adverts. There are no inane repetitive adverts. Right now it is a geek thing. Tommorrow it will be like the iPod.

    The 30 second spot is dieing. Studies already show that people are so immune to commercials it takes an insane number of repetitions in order to have any kind of chance to be rememebered. Instead the Web is leading the way with largely opt-in advertisement with paid for placement.

    If Google can make money providing free search and massive bandwidth, a great deal of R&D for new content all through on demand ads autogenerated based on peoples request. I have a sneaking suspiscion that a network that offered its content for free and had targeted paid for advertising around the process could do the same.

    Imagine a FOX websight that works like Google. Go search for a show, or go to the shows site. Paid for adverts are to the side like every freaking web page in existence now. Some click through some don't. Download the show with a streaming advert delivering method aimed at the users login which lasts ONLY while the content selected is loading.

    Of course to do this you have to completely revamp Nielson or out right replace it. Turn the marketing industry upside down. And set up massive delivery infrastructure and reorganzie the way your basic TV station works.

    no biggie.
  • The rules (Score:4, Interesting)

    by James Foster (226728) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @05:11PM (#11523069)
    1. The shows must not have DRM limitations, and must be of decent quality.
    2. They must be available for download before they are shown on television anywhere.
    3. They must be reasonably priced.

    If these three rules are followed, I look forward to kissing bittorrent goodbye for my weekly 24 episode download, and paying a bit of money for them. I'd prefer to transfer a chunk of money to the service and then have credit stored on there for a few weeks worth of television shows.
  • The big lie (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 2TecTom (311314) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @05:19PM (#11523131) Homepage Journal
    That is "woefully inadequate to describe why millions of people steal," said Mr. Garland of Big Champagne, the online media measurement company.

    Copyright infringement is not theft, but we see the industry repeat this lie repeatedly. Why, oh why, do people fall for this crap?

    As well, please keep in mind that originally, copyright protected only the author and only for a limited time. In fact, most of the so called "copyrighted" material no longer even belongs to the original creator. Indeed, most of copyrighted material would now be in the public domain.

    Jeez people, face facts, the overly affluent have corrupted the law and are using it to exploit you.

    It simply amazes me just how many Americans love to talk about freedom and responsibility but then are silent in the obvious presence of tyranny and exploitation.
  • by Graemee (524726) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @05:36PM (#11523275)
    The same type of RSS plugin for his product can be added to Azureus and many other BT clients. I've been using Azureus with a RSS plugin to capture several shows that I normally watch. Works really well. Add this to XBMC or other non-capture playback only media players and your really do have a PVR. The RSS plugin can also allow you to save any type of BT file, movie, series, music that you care to configure. Your not limited to just TV.
  • by billdar (595311) * <[ ] ['yap' in gap]> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @05:52PM (#11523386) Homepage
    "You'll make more money and suffer far less from the black market if you simply create the opportunity to access content freely," said Mr. Garland of Big Champagne.

    This guy sums it up for me. I've been running Bit Torrent to get the only 3 TV shows (Simpsons, Daily Show, Chappelle Show) I every watch. I would pay $1 for pulling a hi-res, color and sound corrected copy in a heart beat.

  • by FredThompson (183335) <fredthompson@min ... m ['spr' in gap]> on Sunday January 30, 2005 @06:00PM (#11523461)
    The FCC limits, to some extent, what you can view in the U.S. I have DirecTV with the local channels. Would I pay extra to get the raw East and West coast network feeds? You bet. I live on the East coast and sometimes a heavy rainstorm will prevent reception. If I could get the West Coast feed, some things could be picked up when they're broadcast a few hours later on that stream. Same with local channels. The coverage which gives me Charlotte, NC locals also broadcasts DC. Would I pay extra for those? You bet.

    The FCC won't allow it. How stupid is that? If I'm already paying for the local stations, I should be able to buy other feeds. It boils down to perceived advertising exposure.

    It's not JUST the content providers, the FCC has something to do with it as well.

    Now, if Discovery and the BBC would broadcast the same shows on both sides of the pond and if Canada wasn't excluded, boy, that would be nice.
  • Time-shifting rocks. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ColaMan (37550) on Sunday January 30, 2005 @06:17PM (#11523583) Homepage Journal
    I like mythtv. I have a computer in the loungeroom, attached to the TV - it runs 24x7. Our TV is not even tuned to any stations in our region, it has one mode of operation - svideo in.
    The PC has an AthlonXP 2000+, 512MB ram, onboard nforce video/TVout/audio,a 802.11b pci card, and a crappy 79AUD PCTV video capture card that came with a remote that works very nicely with MythTV. I have a cvs version of mythtv that I update and build every month or so.

    So , how do I use it?

    - With the 4 FTA channels that are available to me, I've got it set to record about five regular shows for me and my wife, plus a few movies on occasion. I watch the recorded shows when I come home from work, and possibly browse about 15-20 minutes of "real" tv. I will never go back to "real" tv, more importantly, neither will my wife.

    - I use the MythDVD portion of MythTV for ripping rental DVD's. Wait, hold the flames! I use it in this fashion as I work shiftwork, my wife rents DVD's and I normally see them on the table about 1/2 hour before they're due back... rip them to Mythtv, watch them later at my convenience with the MythVideo portion.
    *Side note: If anyone's looking for convenience in ripping DVD's , this is it. Insert DVD, pick which title to rip, select bitrate ("Good" on my system equals 750kbps xvid,2 pass,720x576 - works nicely for me) , press go. The DVD is ripped to a file in 15 minutes, and a Xvid encoded version appears in the MythVideo section in about 3 hours (on my Athlon XP2000+).

    - I also have about 20 DVD's at home for the kids ripped and watchable in MythVideo. Oh, *cough* and a few movies I got from teh intarweb. First release movies arrive in my small town about 6 months after a good DVD rip comes out, so occasionally I use a fair sized chunk of my 16GB ADSL download allowance to get a few movies. I've also been busy lately downloading Enterprise episodes (have all of them S1-S4 now). Enterprise got canned on Australian TV at the end of series 2, I think.

    - I listen to about 5 GB of mp3's/ogg's with the MythMusic portion and my wife is slowly ripping her giant CD collection to it.

    - I plug in the USB gamepad and kill time by playing about 500 MAME and Super Nintendo (yay mario!) games with the MythGame plugin.

    - I listen to a number of internet radio stations with the Radio plugin. Gotta love "the 80's channel".

    - I have just about every digital photo I've ever taken in the Mythgallery area, which allows me to browse through and start a slideshow of images.

    - I get a weather feed with MythWeather, with a 4 day forecast, current conditions and animated satellite imagery.

    - I also have MythNews, a RSS browser... but I don't really use it often, as I have one in Thunderbird on my PC.

    All up, it cost about 1000AUD to put together+ a few days of cursing to set up initially. It's been running now for about 18 months. The rest of the family's addicted to it now, so I don't think it'll ever be leaving.

  • I call bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by unladen swallow (844965) on Monday January 31, 2005 @02:43AM (#11526457)
    "The members of the MythTV community, who now do not have to pay monthly fees to rent set-top boxes or digital video recorders, have plenty of more mischievous company in trying to outwit the television industry. Millions of viewers are now watching illegal copies of television programs"

    I pay the local cable company for access to the programs I want to record with Mythtv.

    All of my songs are purchased via iTunes

    The simple fact is that I use mythtv as a recorder just like I would use a vcr. I do not steal any content even though the article suggests that I do.

    I have 2 cable boxes (which I pay for) connected to my mythtv system. I pay the local cable company for the content I may want to record.

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