RealTime IT News

Digital Video Takes the Leap

Both Yahoo and Google have jumped into delivery of IP-TV in a big way.

This morning, Yahoo announced Go TV, a downloadable software product built on Microsoft's Windows Media Center that will let people search the Internet for video and then watch it on the TV.

As previously reported, later today, Google will announce an online video store that lets people search for, buy and download video.

Yahoo Go TV marries Yahoo content including community features and search with content from users' PCs, delivering it to the TV screen. The company said it planned to make its music offerings available through the service, as well. Also in the works are full personal video recorder functionality and the ability to find movies from a digital video recorder, television or a DVD player.

A company spokesman didn't know whether pay-per-view or pay-per-download services would be part of Yahoo Go TV; the service isn't expected to launch for several months.

"We want to give consumers everything they love about the Web -- the open platform and the ability to find and view what they want, when they want it -- on their PC-connected television," Marco Boerries, senior vice president, Connected Life, Yahoo, said in a statement.

The vaporware announcement pre-empts Google's announcement, to be made later today by Larry Page. Google's service, however, is ready to go, with several major content partnerships already in place.

According to Internet audience measurement firm Nielsen/NetRatings, Google Video saw a 58 percent increase in traffic in November 2005, compared to the previous month, from 1.6 million to 2.6 million unique visitors. Google Video represented approximately three percent of Google's traffic in November.

While these big consumer brands could fuel consumer adoption, the services must be user-friendly, according to Dan Rayburn, executive vice president of streamingmedia.com.

"The key is how easy it will be," Rayburn said. "It's the software behind these services that drives it." He pointed out that delivering digital video is a lot harder than blogging services or RSS.

Streamingmedia.com was one of the beta content providers to Google's video download service, and Rayburn saw huge potential, not only for consumers, but for business.

Also on Friday, Intel announced deals with both Google and Yahoo to bring content and software to its Viiv PC, which is designed to enhance and manage digital entertainment in the home.

PCs based on the Intel Viiv technology platform will be able to support high-definition video, surround sound and similar home entertainment features.

Yahoo will create customized Intel Viiv technology verified services, including music, photos and personalized video content, to be delivered to televisions, PCs, laptops and handheld devices.

Google will use Intel's Viiv platform to let its downloadable Google Video player interoperate with other digital home appliances, including the TV and portable devices.

Agreements such as these can help alleviate one big problem with downloaded video: It's not much fun to watch it on the computer screen.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced several content partnerships in his CES keynote address. AOL, DIRECTV, NBC Universal, Turner Broadcasting’s GameTap, ESPN, Televisa and Eros are among the content providers who will optimize their digital content for Viiv.

Rayburn cautioned that many of the CES announcements were for products that don't yet exist. He said, "There's no question that the idea of video adoption across multiple platforms and devices and delivery mechanisms is starting to come to fruition. But a lot of what you're seeing at CES is technology that is yet to be."