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.”

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