The march to video distribution over the Internet that rivals traditional subscription pay television continues. TiVo announced an agreement with YouTube that will bring YouTube content directly to the television through a TiVo DVR Series 3 set-top-box or better. In addition to viewing YouTube content, YouTube users will also be able to log on to their account through a TiVo box. The YouTube agreement expands TiVo’s Internet video content strategy, which also includes Amazon Unbox movie downloads and a variety of other content from various sources. TiVo is trying to position its solution as a gateway to web based content, in addition to a leading DVR solution for traditional linear television content. “Being able to make available YouTube videos to the TiVo subscriber base using one device, one remote and one user interface is another major step in our commitment to combine all of your television and web video viewing options in one easy to use service,” said Tara Maitra, Vice President and GM of Content Services at TiVo Inc.
One trend that is worth observing over the coming months and years is applying the “cut the chord” mentality to cable or IPTV services, where consumers decide they don’t need cable anymore because web distributed content is enough. As more and more compelling web based content makes it to the TV in acceptable formats and viewing experiences, many consumers will surely decide that their monthly video subscription bill may not be worth it. It’s definitely having an impact on the roll out of IPTV. I’ve personally spoken with several telephone company executives who have decided to stand on the sideline and observe these trends a little more closely before deciding to pull the trigger on IPTV and triple play. This is a complicated issue, and a variety of factors come into play that will impact these decisions, including HDTV availability, sports programming, etc. It’s hard to imagine Internet video distribution completely replacing the subscription pay TV model. But it is pretty clear that any converged entertainment strategy needs to address web based video. In my humble opinion, “the genie is out of the bottle” with web based video and service providers and the vendors who serve them need to find a way to weave web video options into their entertainment packages. The experience that ultimately wins will probably offer a compelling mix of both traditional and Internet delivered content. At least until the day when it will be impossible to tell the difference. That day is coming too, we just don’t know how far off it is. Any guesses?