Two major events happened last week that may seem unconnected — but they are not.
How are these connected? Let me explain.
It all began about a year ago when I found myself noticing that my TiVo was slowly but surely shifting from a media gathering device into a single use device. It was, for all intents and purposes, a ‘Law and Order’ storage device.
Really. That’s all it was doing. Grabbing episodes of Law and Order and storing them. From NBC, TBS, TNT. Often repeats, often going back to the mid 90’s. Great old historic episodes of Lenny one-liners*, old NYPD cop cars, pay phones and crack dens. It’s literally a walk down New York’s memory lane of crime.
But, sadly, as my TiVo continued its love affair with the 90’s, the world had moved on.
My Apple TV has all but been abandoned by Apple so I felt completely guilt-free as I cracked the code with an ATV PatchStick and loaded up my Apple TV with Boxee.
Now, while TiVo specialises in TV from the past, Boxee is like time travel into the future.
A wild, crazy ride into a world of ultra-niche shows, channels I’d never heard of, and digitally distributed content that turns the staid, game-show driven experience that has become primetime TV into a creative cornucopia of sights and sounds.
I love my TiVo. I’ve been a fan and and a friend since the smiley screen with the bobbing antenna arrived in my home back in 1999. I always thought I had one of the first few machines, and at one point, when I read my TiVo 1 model number to a repair tech, he said, “wow, this one IS early.”
I’m a loyal kind of guy.
But lately TiVo has seemed more focused on lawsuits than customers and I’ve started to feel abandoned. Sure there’s some new TiVo something or another service, but it costs MORE money. And I’m kinda tapped out on buying software to watch TV right now.
Boxee is free. Free is, well, a good price.
Here’s a quick glance at what Boxee calls ‘apps’ (I think in old media parlance they would be channels or websites, but in the new world of iPad – ‘apps’ is probably right.)
My Damn Channel. ‘You Suck at Photoshop’, and ‘Wainy Days’ with David Wain. Ok, these are both just laugh out loud funny. Shockingly funny actually. Sure, you can see My Damn Channel shows on the web, but they really are more fun on a big flat screen. And Boxee makes them easy to find, and easy to share.
Revision 3. This network of channels from the creators of Digg and DiggNation continues to grow. Some shows are too geeky, even for me, but there’s lots of entertaining stuff here.
eGuiders. A web finder and filter. I watched 9 minutes of Arnold Schwarzenegger one-liners last night. Ok, that guy can really cuss. Who knew?
ATN. And last but not least — an entire Channel (err – App) created out of the ‘Auto-Tune The News’ kids. If there’s only one thing you’re going to watch from this blog post, let it be this video.
That’s just a sample. But it’s not a fair fight. Boxee lets you see the web, in all its creative and convoluted glory. TiVo is, sadly, just TV. Sure, that could change. I could buy a new TiVo box (having then rendered both my TiVo 1 and Tivo Series II boxes obsolete). But I don’t think I will.
Sure, I’ll own a new box some day — but I’m betting it will be a Boxee Box.
*Lenny Brisco Lines from Gothamist: “All this evidence kind of takes the fun out of it.”, “”He confessed so fast, I thought I’d have him do the paperwork.”, and “My grandmother had an apartment like this, only it was on Delancey, not Madison.”
Steve Rosenbaum is founder and CEO of Magnify.net, a NYC-based Web video startup. He has been building and growing consumer-content businesses since 1992. He was the creator and Executive Producer of MTV UNfiltered, a series that was the first commercial application of user-generated video in commercial TV.
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