Sunday, December 11, 2005

We're All Tivo Now

Yes non-Tivo owners hate my Tivo posts. But, anyway, congrats to Rocketboom for getting a Tivo distribution deal which might actually make some money for them.

AMANDA CONGDON is a big star on really small screens - like the 4½- inch window she appears in on computer monitors every weekday morning or the 2½ inches she has to work with on the new video iPod. Ms. Congdon, you see, is the anchor of a daily, three-minute, mock TV news report shot on a camcorder, edited on a laptop and posted on a blog called Rocketboom, which now reaches more than 100,000 fans a day.


In case you're wondering, it has occurred to Mr. Baron and Ms. Congdon that they just might be sitting on a gold mine. At a cost of about $20 an episode, they reach an audience that some days is roughly comparable in size to that of, say, CNN's late, unlamented "Crossfire" political debate show. They have no background in business, but Jeff Jarvis, who tracks developments in technology and culture on his blog, (and who has served as a consultant to The New York Times on Web matters), pointed out to them that they might be able to charge $8,000 for an interactive ad at the end of the show, which would bring in about $2 million annually.

The financial opportunity here has occurred to others, too. TiVo, which can now be used to watch Web video on home television sets, just signed a deal to list Rocketboom in the TiVo directory - making it as easy to record as conventional television programs like "60 Minutes" and "Monday Night Football." Giving up no creative control, Ms. Congdon and Mr. Baron will get 50 percent of the revenue from ads sold by TiVo to appear before and after their newscast, and their show will gain access to more than 300,000 TV sets connected to those new TiVo boxes

Tivo isn't quite there yet, but they're half a step away from having a system in place such that anyone can put video content directly on your TV set, if you want it to be, over the internet. They've added support for audio podcasting, and all they need to do is allow video too (and, to be a bit more practical, allow for some formats other than MPEG-2 to be used). Then, suddenly, anyone will be able to produce video, put it up on a server somewhere, and have people watch it on their TVs. Again, they're not there yet, but a system could easily be implemented such that all you have to do is click on a link and it'll get downloaded to your Tivo automatically, soon if not quite immediately, or of course let you subscribe to a regular feed as you can a podcast. You could, perhaps, subscribe to a Crooks and Liars feed and have all the clips just sitting there waiting for you when you got home. Of course, that might hurt John's traffic/revenue model but Tivo could also put into place a generalized revenue sharing program which could automatically wrap clips with ads, if the video author wanted.

The rumored Apple Tivo killer, if it's real, might get there first.

...and, via ZatzNotFunny, they're obviously thinking along those lines.