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Classic TV for Free Download 366

way2trivial writes to tell us the New York Times is reporting that Warner Brothers will have over 100 classic TV shows available for free download with a 1-2 minutes of commercials per episode. From the article: "There is a catch. To use the technology, viewers will have to agree to participate in a special file-sharing network. This approach helps AOL reduce the cost of distributing-high quality video files by passing portions of the video files from one user's computer to another. AOL says that since it will control the network, it can protect users from the sorts of viruses and spyware that infect other peer-to-peer systems."
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Classic TV for Free Download

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  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <> on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:27PM (#14027381) Homepage Journal
    This is great news for AOL. WB is one of the last "analog" networks continually mixing hit and past programming, with a huge license to decent past programming. The lady and I don't watch the news media much, but when we do it's strictly for WGN's morning comedy newscrew. (Sidenote: WGN is the Chicago's WB and has consistently been top notch is broadcast technical superiority. The station engineers answer the phones and have helped get us quality HD reception for years.)

    We always joke about Welcome Back, Kotter and I'll be the first one downloading the shows. I'll get an MCE-plug-in to do it for me. The Fugitive is a great call by Frankel's team as well.

    CBS and NBC's use of Comcast and DirectTV is outdated. Why use a very limited platform that they pay for when you can use your customers' paid for bandwidth and force them to share between each other? Throw in advertising for Smallville and Sex and the City, track download/share stats, Profit!!!

    Babylon 5, Wonder Woman and Chico and the Man? Great ideas. Limited time access (via DRM?) is reasonable as I can see people buying the box sets if they like the shows enough. Here's to the WB to proving it once and for all. Frankel is really risking a lot, but I'm guessing the risk is worth the possible reward. The next generation will decide if this will work.

    I'm not familiar with Kontiki or AOL Hi-Q. Hopefully it won't be too burdened by adware, Sony-style rootkits, or excessive tracking beyond what and when. We'll see, right?

    One feature, to accompany "Welcome Back, Kotter," will allow users to upload a picture of themselves (or a friend) and superimpose 1970's hair styles and fashion, and send the pictures by e-mail to friends or use as icons on AOL's instant-message system.

    Good idea. Use AIM as a pathway as well.

    AOL may not be the idiot I previously mentioned recently. I'll be the first to admit it if they balance the good with the bad.

    One thing I'd LOVE to see:

    Ads separate from content with content flagged for an ad to be displayed. A user could give their Zip+4, Zip, Area Code or Metropolis (picking how specific they want to be) and more area targeted ads could be displayed. Here's where Google VidWords (VidAds?) would excel, actually.

    Finally, WB-AOL needs an "Internet Extender." IP based set-top box that connects to your TV. Or a USB2TV box locked to their content? Watching on your PC is a step. Watching on your TV would be a lock.
    • win/win/win (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xigxag ( 167441 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:35PM (#14027459)
      I agree with everything you said, but one of the best aspects of this from a slashdotter's POV is that it whittles away at the filesharing == evil stigma. I think this is a big plus for business, for users, and for the future of the internet. Hopefully it will accelerate broadband penetration as well.
      • by Beardydog ( 716221 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:41PM (#14027527)
        I hate to be the one to break it to you, but broadband is already saturated with penetration.
        • by snuf23 ( 182335 )
          "saturated with penetration"

          Is that the same as having every hole filled?
      • I originally had a similar comment but edited it out as I figured I was saying too much and I feared that if they did this wrong, it would actually be negative for filesharing. It CAN be "filesharing == good" but it could also be "publisher controlled DRM'd == good" and that would be bad.
      • Re:win/win/win (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NeoTwig ( 930958 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @02:06PM (#14027741)
        Looking at the subject of your post, I can't help but wonder if those are the list of supported operating systems for this service.
      • Re:win/win/win (Score:3, Interesting)

        by budgenator ( 254554 )
        it whittles away at the filesharing == evil stigma

        Kontiki 5.0 Leading the Evolution in Digital Media Delivery
        Content protection
        Content cannot be copied or shared illegally from one device to another
        A centrally managed publishing process allowing only authorized parties publish content to the system
        Rapid content delivery
        Creates a compelling internet based offering for the consumer with a superior end user experience through DVD quality video delivery
        Can deliver content from o

        • Re:win/win/win (Score:3, Insightful)

          by schon ( 31600 )
          I just don't see how a commercial rip-off of bittorrent style technology, with some DRM shoe-horned in (probably very lame weak, encryption) is going to make file-sharing anymore respectable.

          Then perhaps you need glasses.

          Current P2P is demonized by big media companies - they say it's evil and destroying their profits.

          We now have a major media corporation talking about how *wonderful* their P2P app is. The perception amongst those who don't know better *can only* be "hmm, maybe this P2P stuff isn't all that
    • Limited time access (via DRM?) is reasonable as I can see people buying the box sets if they like the shows enough. Here's to the WB to proving it once and for all.

      I think the major deterrent will be this (FT fine A):
      "The company will offer a changing selection of several hundred episodes each month, rather than providing continuous access to all the episodes in a series, Mr. Frankel said, so as not to cannibalize potential DVD sales of old TV shows."

      So just when you are in the middle of a season, the

      • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <> on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:48PM (#14027590) Homepage Journal
        Why is this a deterrent? You're not buying content, so why should you keep it forever? If you like it and want it forever, buy the DVD sets.

        Possibly, in the future, they'll have a link at the end of a certain episode saying "To see the rest of this season, click here to order the full season." This isn't a bad idea actually. Get someone hooked on the first half of the season, and charge them for the latter half. It's something the drug dealers have done for eternity :)
    • by Saxerman ( 253676 ) * on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:36PM (#14027484) Homepage
      From TFA:
      The service, called In2TV, will be free, supported by advertising, and will start early next year. More than 4,800 episodes will be made available online in the first year.

      Programs on In2TV will have one to two minutes of commercials for each half-hour episode, compared with eight minutes in a standard broadcast. The Internet commercials cannot be skipped.

      The article is extremely light on technical details, saying only that it "will use peer-to-peer file-sharing technology to get the video data to viewers." This, along with the commercials which cannot be skipped, suggests a custom client will be required to view the content, which probably means alternative OS users will not be supported. Regardless of how tentative it is, I Personally think it's a great first move at bringing old content online. Considering this is a free service, I guess we can't really complain, and it will be exciting to see what happens when their protocol is decrypted so we can stream the content to our player (or file) of choice.

      In related news, Firefox 1.07 would crash on loading TFA, but 1.5RC2 doesn't seem to have a problem with it.

      • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <> on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:45PM (#14027560) Homepage Journal
        Right, very light on details.

        As the content is being provided "freely," I think it is up to the publishers and the advertisers to decide who can see it and for how long. The #1 complaint from CD and DVD owners is "I bought the xD!!! I should use it as I please!" and this completely destroys that complaint (which is why I've never said the above).

        For now, the content owners are doing the most free market thing they can -- don't sell the content to the viewer (but to the advertiser), and control exactly who can view it and when. There is no physical medium exchanging hands, so the licensing of the programming is truly controlled (until a hack is found).

        This may not be what the /. crowd wants, but it is more in the direction of what the average viewer wants. In the long run, this really could be a win/win/win situation, depending on how well the advertisers recoup their money spent.
        • As the content is being provided "freely," I think it is up to the publishers and the advertisers to decide who can see it and for how long.

          That's already the case with existing P2P networks. The content publishers have decided to let anybody see it for an unlimited amount of time (sometimes in violation of local copyright law.)

      • I think it would be AOLs interest to actually come up with clients for alternative OSs (MacOS X and Linux being the main two), since it would reduce the need for a third party to hack the system. Then again, there shouldn't be anything stopping AOL from using a Bit Torrent based solution, and then simply requiring that you visit their site to view the catalogue - ok I haven't thought about all the practical issues yet. If the ads are in the "master" copy as opposed to being tagged on prior to download, then
    • by SomeoneGotMyNick ( 200685 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @02:13PM (#14027796) Journal
      Throw in advertising for Smallville and Sex and the City, track download/share stats, Profit!!!

      Congratulations!!!! You just solved for the mysterious '???' of the three step Profit mantra.
    • by dr.badass ( 25287 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @03:25PM (#14028416) Homepage
      Finally, WB-AOL needs an "Internet Extender." IP based set-top box that connects to your TV.

      A box that allows you to watch television on your television? I think I can get behind that.
  • by MS-06FZ ( 832329 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:28PM (#14027387) Homepage Journal
    Usually the fact that a P2P network has been under some kind of central control was the exact reason it included spyware...

    (Stating the obvious here, but damn..)
    • Why would the control scheme change how the program is written? They could put spyware in bitcomet just as easily.

      If you are advertising you wont use spyware, it'd be stupid to put it in.... you don't think so guys here at /. are going to tear that app apart? And if they found it... hmm, think it would make the news? Thisnk it would be a free for all on aol?

      Yes, it would.
    • AOL says that since it will control the network, it can protect users from the sorts of viruses and spyware that infect other peer-to-peer systems.

      Seriously, I trust AOL to "protect" a system around as much as I trust Microsoft to "protect" consumers from endless upgrade cycles. AOL's own software has some vaguely spyware-like characteristics; for example, it hooks itself deeply into your system (from what I've heard; obviously, I don't use AOL) in all sorts of places, and if you cancel, and accidentally

      • I've heard that AOL's software basically associates itself with various file types, puts itself into various context-sensitive menus, etc....

        Hmm, that would make them just exactly like... Apple! Thier QuickTime player is perhaps the worst offender w.r.t. taking over things you don't want it to. Heck, QT takes over as your *TIFF* viewer, even when you tell it not to. Apple/QT is now far worse about hijacking PCs than Real, who for all their faults at least listened to complaints and made new versions muc
  • by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:28PM (#14027393)
    Proprietary file format? (can't edit out commercials in Virtualdub)
    What encoding?
    Special player required?
    Do you have to be an AOL member?
    • And don't forget, how can I put this in my iPod.
    • by jschottm ( 317343 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:53PM (#14027623)
      Proprietary file format? (can't edit out commercials in Virtualdub)

      And slashdot types wonder why media companies aren't falling all over themselves to cater to them. A company offers you FREE content in exchange for including ads in it. The FIRST thing you want to do is edit out the ads.

      Want it without ads? Buy it.

      Content costs money to create, particularly movies/TV. If you've never been involved in TV (let alone Movie) quality production, you might be surprise at how hard it can be. Despite the hype, you can't make a decent show with a DV Cam and a Powerbook.

      If you want the content you like to be delivered to you in the format you want, you have to provide some kind of economic benefit back to those that produce it.
      • If content costs money, then why do media companys publish so much bullsh!t content?

        If they cut some 60% of the crap that is out there, they could save billions.
        • by orac2 ( 88688 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @02:16PM (#14027830)
          Because even bullshit costs a hellava lot more money when produced by professionals. Consider, say, Mission to Mars, which is my standard example of Worst Movie Ever. However, lets ignore the wooden acting, bland direction and painful script for now. All the actors are in focus. They all have competently applied make up. The picture isn't grainy. You can't see any plywood poking out from behind the fairely extensive sets. The costumes look realistic. The audio is fine: you can hear the actors' lines without the music, sound effects, or ambiant noise drowning them out. There's a score. The custom 3-d modelling is competent. You can't see bits of camera equipment or sound booms in the frame, and so on. Sadly the same can't be said for many things put together with a DV and a bootleg copy of Final Cut. Just to to reach a minimal production threshhold costs money: professionals aren't cheap.

          Anyhoo, I suspect that your idea of what's crap may not exactly match up with what's mine, or others', raising the question of which 60% gets cut. I suspect that a lot of crap is actually responsible for some of the highest profits in the industry, so the exec's wouldn't exactly be saving billions in any case.
        • why do media companys publish so much bullsh!t content?

          A number of reasons. Some of it is because people have different tastes. Most forms of media out the have had a number of people that thought it was worth spending money on making. There's a small amount of stuff that's generated just as a tax writeoff, but mostly it's a combination of bad judgement and the fickleness of the public. You basically create a bunch of stuff that you think is good, throw it out to the public, market it, and see what beco
      • In principle i agree but shouldnt that content be already paid for many times over. From the original copyright duration, all programming prior to 1998 /1991 (duration dependant) should've been free/public domain :)
      • You make valid points, but the question remains -- what's the file format?

        I don't care so much about editing out the commercials, but the fact of the matter is that if I can't watch it on my TV in a reasonable manner then this is of absolutely no use to me.

        And the only way to make it watchable on TV in a reasonable manner is to provide it in MPEG-2 format, or something that can be easily transcoded to that -- then you can burn it to DVD and watch it on any DVD player (or, in my case, stick it on my server a
    • by xigxag ( 167441 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @02:04PM (#14027727)
      Proprietary file format? (can't edit out commercials in Virtualdub)

      Probably so, but I think AOL realizes that it will be impossible to completely prevent some determined pirate from editing out the commercials. Rather, they are relying on a principle that Apple uncovered -- that if you make things simple and reliable, most people would rather get a quick legitimate copy from a reliable source than an iffy bootleg which may be bad quality and may not even be what it purports to be. The average person will reason, why risk stiff criminal penalties [] for an illegal download when you can get it for free, or rather, just for watching a few commercials? (Surely we don't think it's coincidental that the carrot and the stick are being shown to us at the same time, do we?)
      • I feel the key is to use old commercials. If the show is from the 70s use 70's style commercials. People might not even edit them out if they could. I am sure that somebody will break the DRM at some point in time.
  • by lightyear4 ( 852813 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:29PM (#14027395)
    The media are slowly awakening to the possibilities offered by p2p technologies. Finally.'s a start.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:30PM (#14027406)
    ...will look a lot like that classic Lucy in the Bonbon factory episode I'm downloading.

    I suspect I'll allow Real Player on my system before I accept an entire p2p install just to download some crappy TV.
  • "Classic" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eMartin ( 210973 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:34PM (#14027442)
    When I saw the word classic, I assumed the black-and-white hits of yesteryear, but this is going to include things that I would still consider somewhat recent like Babylon 5 and Growing Pains.

    Then again, maybe that just means I'm getting old.

    Sounds pretty decent so far. I just hope I don't have to install some P.O.S. viewer to see this stuff.
  • by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:34PM (#14027449) Journal
    "AOL says that since it will control the network, it can protect users from the sorts of viruses and spyware that infect other peer-to-peer systems."

    Yea . . . uh . . you know . . . AHAHAHAHHAHA, no i'm sorry, there's no way I can make a serious comment about that.
    • What its saying is that end users can choose to put their own files up in the network, all file choices belong to AOL. Not saying it can't be hacked of course.
  • Why not bittorrent? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:34PM (#14027456) Journal
    The NYTimes isn't letting me access it so I don't know what they're using, but I'd have thought a torrent would work perfectly for this, and the fact that they control the seed will mean that they can still have control over the network.
    • by Solder Fumes ( 797270 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:54PM (#14027641)
      You must not be familiar with Bittorrent, or you'd know that with some clients implementing decentralized tracking, the torrent can live on long after the tracker is gone. At least, I think you meant to say tracker instead of seed, right? Because a seed is merely someone who has downloaded the whole file and is uploading only.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:35PM (#14027466)
    ...if AOL had the idea to send you their data via snail mail, on some kind of CD.
  • Legit uses of P2P! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:36PM (#14027475) Homepage Journal
    It's just so nice to see a media corporation recognize that legit uses of peer-to-peer exist. The fact that they're actually using it is even better.
  • Statistics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by olego ( 899338 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:36PM (#14027481) Homepage
    Bad statistics always irk me. Yet a recent survey by the Points North Group of 1,098 Internet users found that 28 percent said they wanted to watch regular television shows on their PC's or laptops, Mr. Storck said. Yea, and in a recent phone interview, 100% of the participants have a phone line. I'd be much more interested in the number of television viewers who'd prefer to switch to watching shows on their computers if they could.
    • That is not bad statistics. If your service requires the internet (which theirs does) than the percentage of people with the internet who would be interested in your service is what matters. Giving two squirts about those who don't is a good way to distract yourself from your core market.
      • This tech is in competition with DVRs, and so can't limit itself to looking only at current internet users.

        Also, AOL/TW will produce a set-top box, like a DVR, so that people currently without internet access can still participate.

        Ignoring the extended market is just as big an error as getting distracted from your core market.
  • by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:37PM (#14027485) Journal
    There is a catch. To use the technology, viewers will have to agree to participate in a special file-sharing network.

    Why precisely is this a catch? why is it something bad? isnt this somethig we have been looking for since I dont know when?

    For me it is not a catch, it is the technology that allows WB to broadcast these videos on internet.

    I only think about the advertisments, I guess we will only get Coca/Pepsi-cola and Microsoft adverts, since these adverts must be for a really wide audience (i.e. the whole world)
    • I think the "catch" is because someone is somehow of the opinion that only p2p networks that can be used to distribute music, movies, and programs in violation of their copyright are 'good', and that using a p2p network or p2p technology /just/ for large content distribution isn't 'good'.

      I'm not sure why they're making a big deal about controlling the network, though. I don't know why it would be more of a concern to your average home user than, say, installing AOL software to begin with - something I on

    • Its a catch in that it makes it effectively useleff for people with monthly internet caps, shared connections(Alright, nobody actually cares that they're ruining the college line, but still), etc.
    • by jandrese ( 485 ) * <> on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:49PM (#14027591) Homepage Journal
      The catch is that a large number of users will be in violation of their ISP's TOS if they subscribe to this service. Peer to Peer programs almost always run afoul of the "no servers" rule that nearly every ISP puts in the TOS for their "home" packages. In some TOSes they can terminate your account (with no refund) for simply responding to a ping.

      Of course almost no ISPs enforce their TOS agreements, but they are legally binding and you are in violation of contract when you do stuff like this.
      • MSN clients, ICQ clients, FTP clients (in active mode) and many more clients create server sockets. I'm not sure that makes them servers. The language of the TOS of these ISPs is outdated. If the problem is excessive use of upload bandwidth, the TOS should talk about this, not servers.
      • A broadband ISP would be crazy to enforce this, since one of the largest selling points of broadband access is quick downloads of large media content such as this. I'm not saying it would make people go back to dialup, but I do think the cable/DSL/FiOS speed war is fueled by the downloading of media. ISPs use their download rates to attract new customers at a price premium, and it works. Remove that incentive and you'll be back to the lowest common denominator (768k DSL.. how can they even call it broadb
    • I only think about the advertisments, I guess we will only get Coca/Pepsi-cola and Microsoft adverts, since these adverts must be for a really wide audience (i.e. the whole world)

      Pretty much the same as network TV now (minus the ability to insert local ads by the local affiliates). You could talor the ads somewhat by show and target viewers (i.e. Hair dye ads during Sex and the City, Internet dating service ads during Babylon 5, Scientology ads during Welcom Back Kotter, etc.).

  • by spinfire ( 148920 ) <> on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:37PM (#14027494) Homepage
    Yes, finally! My only concern now is that they will destroy this by putting DRM, etc. They're going to want to prevent people from skipping the commercials. Lets hope they trust the honor system (and the viewers follow said system) instead of making the downloads useless by

    Personally, I would gladly pay to download the few shows I like to watch. We only get ultrabasic cable, so I can't watch channels like Comedy Central anyways. A reasonable ($1-$5) per-download fee or a season subscription fee would be a great model for those who prefer to watch TV when they want to. For prices at the low end of the spectrum I would even be willing to tolerate ads.
  • by gasmonso ( 929871 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:38PM (#14027503) Homepage

    People can complain all they want, but this is a bold step for the networks. Obviously, there needs to be improvements, but this shows that p2p is not evil like its being portrayed. Networks are finally getting the message! In time, this will improve :)

    gasmonso []
  • Uhh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sheepdot ( 211478 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:42PM (#14027535) Journal
    AOL says that since it will control the network, it can protect users from the sorts of viruses and spyware that infect other peer-to-peer systems.

    Sounds like a challenge to me.

    AOL is using file-sharing technology from Kontiki, a Silicon Valley company providing a similar system to the ambitious Internet video program of the BBC.

    That's odd, I remember Kontiki working off of caching, which means that part of the copyrighted video would be actually stored on client's computers.

    From: []

    The Kontiki Delivery Grid dynamically optimizes delivery from many PCs and media servers by caching content at the very edge of the network. This creates network efficiency gains of 10 to 25 times over traditional approaches.

    It also brings legality into question for other distribution mechanisms, I would think. If Kontiki is legal, how would caching a bittorrent for an episode of "Lost" be any different?

    IANAL, but I'm very interested in this, because while I understand that the producers of Lost grant only ABC distribution rights, then obviously it's not the mechanism, but the individual violation that is at fault. In other words, the success of Kontiki would basically ensure that Bittorrent would continue to be a legal distribution method, even if the content being distributed itself was not. Right?

    While I'm not aware of any specific attacks on Bittorrent's legality, I know that it has been questioned before. We just had some legal cases with Grokster and others that even now have on their webpages that there is such a thing as "unauthorized peer-to-peer services". If Bittorrent is one of these, then why is Kontiki be considered not one?
    • Re:Uhh... (Score:5, Informative)

      by barfy ( 256323 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:46PM (#14027574)
      It also brings legality into question for other distribution mechanisms, I would think. If Kontiki is legal, how would caching a bittorrent for an episode of "Lost" be any different?

      Because it is ostensibly controlled by the owner of the copyright, which means they are controlling the means and methods of distribution, which is the central power of copyright. Nothing here changes or makes the illicit distribution of "Lost" legal.
    • Re:Uhh... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:49PM (#14027600) Journal
      using kontiki to violate copyight law would be illegal, using bittorrent to violate copyright law would also be illegal. there is no difference really if they give permission to download via torrent it would be legal, if they give permission to download via kontiki it would also be legal.

      there isn't anything special about using a peer to peer network for distribution, the advancement is a social advancement in WB seeing the market for free downloads with ads as comparable to free broadcasts with ads.
    • I would think. If Kontiki is legal, how would caching a bittorrent for an episode of "Lost" be any different?

      Don't mistake the medium for the content (even if the world's governments can't tell the difference).

      Kontiki or BT or plain ol' Kazaa, doesn't matter here. The holders of the copyright can give you permission to do anything at all (beyond fair use, of course) with that content. If that means "you have the right to watch this, keep a copy or part of a copy, and redistribute it to others in respo
    • Re:Uhh... (Score:3, Informative)

      by schnarff ( 557058 )
      The main issue is the intent of the network doing the distribution. Grokster et al were found to be illegal because they promoted lawbreaking as their primary raison d'etre -- with ads like "download the top 40 here" and other things that clearly were designed to incude infringement. Since Bittorent is content-neutral as a technology, it can't be declared illegal under MGM v. Grokster, since those who created/maintain it don't intend for its primary purposes to be infringing, and aren't encouraging infringe
  • another link (Score:3, Informative)

    by Call Me Black Cloud ( 616282 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:43PM (#14027542)
    Here's another link [] to the story.

    Also, if you want to read the NYT version but don't want to create a login, check out [].
  • Kontiki (Score:2, Informative)

    by daranz ( 914716 )
    I remember that Gamespot used to use an app from Kontiki for free downloads for non-subscribers. The app wasn't the most reliable and didn't always work right... they eventually ditched it.

    Maybe it'll actually work better now...
  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:47PM (#14027577) Homepage Journal
    Haskell: Hi Mrs Cleaver, how's the Beaver?
    Mrs. Cleaver: Fine Eddie. And how's your little pecker?
  • Multicast is still far more efficient than any P2P "broadcast", if a million or so people are watching the same thing?

    I guess when Bittorrent supports multicast for sending file chunks, it could at least optimize when a multicast network is available.
  • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @01:54PM (#14027644)
    Its worth mentioning that Warner is also the one studio that has really resisted the MPAA strong-arm tactics of treating customers as criminals. They wisely felt pricing their movie library competitively ($10 range) meant greater sales for them, and less piracy.

    They are definitely the good guys.
  • One to two minutes of commercials? Are they unskippable? If so, we'll figure out not only how much people are willing to pay to not have commercials but also how many people are willing to pay to have full seek ability in their own shows....

    • I would suspect some of the commercials are to buy the boxed set for the episodes being viewed. Get consumers to distribute your shows in a small computer version just so they get the idea to buy the boxed set for the living room HDTV.

  • FTA: "Of the media companies' new experiments, Peter Storck, president of the Points North Group, a research firm, remarked, 'They are saying let's take the plunge, put the content out there, and figure out how to monetize it.'"

    Yes, they'll put the content out before figuring out a business plan for this venture.

    FTA: "'This is great goofy stuff that fans are going to love,' Mr. Storck of the Points North Group said."

    What a stupid meaningless blurb, but does remind me of Carson.

    BTW, Points North
  • Its gonna be BitTorrent with extra logging capabilities.

  • FROM THE ARTICLE: "The company will offer a changing selection of several hundred episodes each month, rather than providing continuous access to all the episodes in a series, Mr. Frankel said, so as not to cannibalize potential DVD sales of old TV shows." Better download as much as you can as fast as you can; it seemed to good to be true.
  • by Gyorg_Lavode ( 520114 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @02:05PM (#14027737)
    I am very happy that companies such as apple, ABC, and Time Warner are making tv shows available over the internet. But I have a signifigant problem with their implimentation. I have no problem watching a 1-2 minute comercial that can't be skipped. I have no problem loading proprietary software to watch their show so they can trust that I am not missusing my license to the media.

    But I DO have a problem with having to use their client to view it. I watch video in basically 2 places. On my linux computer. And on my TV by way of a computer hooked to it. Now, the problem is that it is very hard to display video to a tv. Really only programs that are full screen and have taken this into account are capable of navigating and displaying video in such a way. I want 1 program to do this. Be it sageTV, a Windows Media Center Edition, MythTV, etc. The LAST thing I want to do is open up iTunes for my iTunes protected media, (and unless something has changed I don't know about, it doesn't display on a TV worth squat), or this Time Warner client to watch their media.

    Granted, I have a very poor quality TV. But even if I update to a nice, fresh one, I should only have to have 1 program running to access my media. Each protection scheme should supply some pre-compiled library that each media player can then integrate to decode the data or to do whatever is required.

    I honestly think that distribution of video media over computers will be hamstrung until providers consider how the way they make their media available will work with a Home Entertainment Center PC.

    • I *do* have a problem with the download only being available through proprietary software (which will surely only exist for Winshit systems) as well as any concept of having to view it with proprietary software. But I'm sure they realize that if they let you download the shows in a standard video format with a standard http or ftp download, that anyone with a clue could trivially clip off their commercials and then redistribute via kazaa, donkey, bt, whatever. So they'll never do that in a million years.

    • Just a small comment on the iTunes thing ... at least on the Mac, you can open up protected files (audio or video) with Quicktime (as long as the computer is authorized), which allows you to play the stuff fullscreen or on a TV.
    • I honestly think that distribution of video media over computers will be hamstrung until providers consider how the way they make their media available will work with a Home Entertainment Center PC.

      No, the PC will never be it - people watch TVs because watching PCs sucks pond water.

      Pay attention to what this enables, though, even if it's not in the announcement: There is nothing about the technologies decscribed that would prevent downloading them as new features for a Tivo unit connected to an Ethernet. T
  • Weasel Speak (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jeffvoigt ( 866600 )
    AOL says that since it will control the network, it can protect users from the sorts of viruses and spyware that infect other peer-to-peer systems.

    Please note that AOL never claims that they will not have their own spyware installed, merely that their version is not one that "infects" other computers. And since everyone must be part of their network, everyone will have it installed.

    Granted, I'm siding with the highly likely probability that AOL will have an uber-spyware program to go long with this n
  • My ISP says I can't use my broadband connection to host a server. When running P2P programs like kazaa lite or whatever I knew that I was in violation, but I'm surprised a company like AOL is willing to be in a position of encouraging home users to violate ISPs terms of service, being an ISP themselves.
  • It's amazing to me how innovative this company is. Someone immediately must create an open-source project to capitalize on this veritable torrent of bits to facilitate file transfers.

    Thank you, America Online!

  • by ctwxman ( 589366 ) <> on Monday November 14, 2005 @02:13PM (#14027803) Homepage
    I work in local television. I told some co-workers last night and got a 'so what' response. Maybe they're right. Maybe I'm paranoid. I see this as a very large test to find if online distribution of TV is cost effective.

    When TV began, distribution channels were very limited. New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, our biggest markets, had 7 channels. Most other places got a lot less.

    Cable TV started in the sixties. In 1970, when I signed up for cable TV service (TelePrompTer) in West Palm Beach, we got 12 stations - one of which was a rotating camera showing ads and a thermometer. I don't think I got anything that couldn't be plucked off the air.

    Living in the Philadelphia suburbs in the mid-70s, cable TV began to bring additional channels like HBO (it was only programmed in the evenings) and CNN. For programmers, and advertisers, there were additional venues.

    Try to get a new cable channel on now. Even with a hundred or more slots, there isn't room for anything new. Or, if a channel does somehow get on, it is relegated to such bad 'real estate' that no one sees it.

    If AOL is successful, it will open up new channels and, more importantly, change the economics of distribution.

    In the old days, the broadcast networks paid to have local stations carry them. That era is ending (and has already ended for most stations). In addition, the networks allowed local affiliates to sell a few commercials within the local shows.

    If the AOL experiment works, and distribution costs are reasonable, AOL can sell the local and national ads itself, in any way it wishes, and eliminate the middleman.

    Most local stations understand this... well, I hope they understand this. They will have to adapt their business model when they are no longer used by others as distributors, getting free or discounted shows to fill their broadcast day.

    Over the past decade, local news programming has increased. Under this scenario there will probably be even more local programming.

    I don't know what this means for those channels that don't do anything but play shows from syndicators or networks. This such a radical switch. Can they change? Many are physically incapable of even producing programs in-house.

    Don't dwell on the specific programs AOL is rolling out on the Internet. The titles are unimportant, because if this move is at all successful, more valuable programming will follow. It's much easier to experiment with Welcome Back Kotter, which has little value at the moment.

    Unfortunately, there are corollaries to Gresham's Law that come into play here. Will the addition of all these new distribution channels drive down the quality of TV? Stay tuned.

  • The List (Score:5, Informative)

    by thebdj ( 768618 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @02:15PM (#14027822) Journal
    Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
    Babylon 5
    Chico and the Man
    Dark Justice
    Eight is Enough
    F Troop
    The F.B.I.
    Falcon Crest
    Freddy's Nightmares
    The Fugitive
    Growing Pains
    Hangin' with Mr. Cooper
    Head of the Class
    Kung Fu
    La Femme Nikita
    Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
    The New Adventures of Batman
    Perfect Strangers
    Pinky and the Brain
    Scarecrow and Mrs. King
    Spenser: For Hire
    Welcome Back, Kotter
    Wonder Woman

    This is what I was able to find for a full list with more content to be added over the course of a year. There are a few shows I am glad to see, can you guess one from my sig?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is not something like bittorrent. You don't get to keep the TV show after you've watched it. This is yet another lame pay-per-view deal. They say they don't want to cannibalize DVD sales, so they will rotate the available shows every few weeks. So great, I get to pay to watch Chico and The Man, and if I want to save it to my computer I'm out of luck? So if I want to watch it a second time I get to pay The Man again? No thanks.

    Why is Apple the only one to understand that people want to own what

  • Reg-Free Link (Score:4, Informative)

    by karmatic ( 776420 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @02:16PM (#14027833)
  • I want to see shows like Ark II, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, Shazam, and Isis.

  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @02:22PM (#14027894)
    Joanna: I love kung fu.
    Peter Gibbons: Channel 39.
    Joanna: Totally.
    Peter Gibbons: You should come over and watch kung fu tonight.
    Joanna: Ok. Ok. Can we order lunch first? Ok.
  • Which commercials? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RandoX ( 828285 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @02:29PM (#14027945)
    I'd love to watch the ones that originally aired on these shows.
  • PC Specs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Monday November 14, 2005 @02:58PM (#14028196) Homepage
    From the kontiki site [] follow. Looks like no Mac or Linux:

    System Requirements:

    (These are the minimum system requirements. Better performance will be seen on more powerful systems.)

            * Pentium II 400Mhz (or faster recommended for optimal video playback)
            * 64MB of RAM
            * 2GB hard drive with 500MB of free space
            * Windows 98, ME, NT4, 2000, or XP
            * Internet Explorer 5.01 SP2 (or later), Netscape 4.7 or AOL 6.0 (or later)
            * Windows Media Player 7, RealPlayer and Quicktime are recommended for the best experience
            * A 56Kbps (or faster) Internet connection

    Additional Requirements for using Secure Media and Document Control Features:

            * Windows Media Player 7 or later for accessing files encrypted using Windows Media Rights Manager
            * Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or later for accessing secure PDF documents
  • ironic (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tacocat ( 527354 ) <tallison1&twmi,rr,com> on Monday November 14, 2005 @04:42PM (#14029086)

    First they say that P2P networks are pure Evil.

    Now they want to set up their own P2P network.

    Wouldn't it be a hell of a lot simpler if they just set up P2P servers with the shows set up with commercials and let everyone use the existing P2P networks rather than reinventing the existing technology?

    I recognize they need to generate revenue via pumping advertisements into the shows, but you would think they could come up with a better business model. I suspect that the only reason they are requiring use of their own network is so that they can track who downloads what for the marketing demographics and charge back to the advertisement firms.

    So I guess my first concern with this is the matter of privacy on their P2P network. I'm suspicious that they will be using this network a little differently than what people have seen in the past.

  • by Fordiman ( 689627 ) * <fordiman@ g m a i l . com> on Monday November 14, 2005 @05:25PM (#14029476) Homepage Journal
    The success of In2TV is going to have nothing to do with the merits of the project.

    It's going to hinge on whether or not In2TV is supported under Linux.

    Shocking, huh? "Why?" I hear you ask.

    Simple. Linux users are the most persistant type of computer user. If something doesn't work in Linux, it will be hacked at until it does. Conversely, if something already works, and works well, there's less incentive to hack at it. The "good" programmers will concentrate on other projects, and a couple of the newbs will beat impotently at the In2TV protocol until their hammers bleed.

    "But what's that got to do with the success of In2TV?"

    Once a Linux user or LUG has built a working In2TV player for Linux, its popularity will spread like wildfire. Within a week of release, it will be ported to Windows. Within the same week, someone will have determined how to remove the ads and save the stream to disk. A month after a Linux-unsupported In2TV release, there will be hundereds of Linux users archiving all 300 episodes per month. Two months after, there will be _thousands_ of Windows users doing the same.

    And AOL, as they have been in the case of "free riders" using GAIM, will be impotent to stop it.

    And example from the other direction. Ever notice how there's no production quality open source marcromedia flash display software? Yeah. It's because "good" programmers aren't going to waste their time on rebuilding something that already works and works well for their platform of choice - the Flash plugin for firefox. All in nice closed source proprietary form.

    So, a message to AOL: Make In2TV support Linux, ensuring at least a few years of sustainability for your product, or have In2TV fail within months from the abuse of over zealous users.

    P.S.: I actually hope you DON'T take my advice. The faster your company goes down, the faster the rest of the media industry will go with it.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling