Thu, Mar 5th 2009 2:24am
One tech idea that simply won't go away is the set-top box for streaming movies. It's been tried plenty of times before (Netflix, Vudu, Akimbo, Moviebeam, and more) with little success, thanks to technical problems, poor content, bad business models, or some combination of all of them. Each iteration takes a slightly different tack, but the end result usually ends up the same: the dedicated set-top boxes go out with a whimper. Now, there's yet another one coming out, called ZillionTV, with its own take on things. It's the same basic idea: you hook the box up to your TV and your broadband connection, then use it to stream video content. The business model's a little different, though: it will be sold in partnership with ISPs, and users will be able to choose between pay-per-view content without ads, and ad-supported video, including both films and network TV shows. The usual bugbears seem to apply, including worries about the streaming quality and lack of a wide range of content. The ad-supported model, which will be based on targeting ads to users by tracking their viewing habits and other data, is interesting, though TiVo was playing around in a similar space a few years ago and their efforts seem to have gone quiet. What's a bit odd, though, is that the company says the box will cost $100, because "consumers didn't respond as well to free." That's puzzling -- especially if the company really hopes to make its money from advertising. In any case, we definitely won't hold our breath to see if ZillionTV can succeed where so many others have failed.
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