Thursday, March 13, 2008, 7:57 AM ET|Posted by Will Richmond
Hurray for TiVo and YouTube, which yesterday announced a partnership to allow certain TiVo users to watch YouTube videos on their TVs. While the actual number of homes which have the right TiVo model and have it connected to broadband numbers under a million, TiVo-YouTube shows there is still hope that the worlds of broadband video and TV will indeed converge.
Some of you will remember that in December '07 I wrote a post entitled "Broadband Video on TV is a Mirage" in which regrettably concluded that the mass availability of broadband video on TVs was nowhere on the horizon. In that post I wrote:
"The minority of consumers who will actually see broadband video on their TVs will either (1) shell out big bucks to buy a broadband appliance such as Vudu or Apple TV, (2) tackle the challenge of connecting their TVs via wireless networks (3) use a device built for another primary purpose, such as Xbox 360 or TiVo, to selectively augment their viewing with broadband-delivered choices or (4) use a service provider that has decided to throw in a few morsels of broadband video."
With the YouTube deal, TiVo continues to deliver on option 3, augmenting an already impressive array of broadband video available on select TiVo models. TiVo enhances its overall reputation for innovation (although still absent resounding market success or profitability), with a particular focus on broadband video. TiVo has previously offered up Amazon Unbox, TiVoCast, Music Choice, Home Movies, etc. Providing access to YouTube, the world's most popular video site, is another notable accomplishment for TiVo.
I continue to believe that whichever company cracks the code on how to deliver wide open broadband video access to the TV - coupled with a strong user experience - is going to hit it big. At the risk of looking too far backward, at the end of 2006 I conjectured that Apple's then still-to-be-launched Apple TV product could be a resounding success if it got the content strategy right (i.e. offering open broadband access and even focusing particularly on easy YouTube access through the device). Instead Apple TV has turned into yet another walled garden and to date has been a market failure. Apple continues to miss the open broadband market opportunity which is sitting right in front of it with a big bulls-eye plainly visible.
The TiVo-YouTube partnership will hopefully have the effect of accelerating the wake up call to other market participants that this gigantic opportunity awaits. Broadband video to the TV is a natural. It simply extends the cable/satellite model of the last 30 years: offering ever more video choices right to the TV.
As I've often said, as amazing as the growth curve has been for broadband video consumption over the last 5 years, even more amazing is that virtually all of this consumption has happened on the computer - a completely parallel world to the traditional TV viewing platform. Nobody could have imagined this level of consumer adoption for a non-TV viewing platform. So then look forward and imagine the possibilities when broadband video and the TV are fused for the masses.