IPTV 4 U and Me
By Brian L. Clark
TV sure ain't what it used to be. The emergence of TiVo, the popularity of iTunes video, the growth of YouTube, mobile video and the IPTV invasion are just a few examples of how the TV Universe is in flux. And don't think the network folks haven't noticed. Just look at how they're scrambling to make content available to virtually anyone who'll have it. Even gray-haired CBS has put shows online at the iTunes Store, joining such hits as the "Super Monkey Robot Team" and Jim Cramer's "Mad Money." If only iTunes would add "Deadwood." Alas...
With all due respect to TiVo's Guru Guides, I don't need someone to make recommendations for what I ought to watch—I already know what I want and when I want it. What I need is something that actually goes out, retrieves and consolidates that programming in one place, no matter what the source may be. Besides, do I really give a crap what Courtney Cox-Arquette is watching? I mean, I know the "experts" at many of these magazines anyway. If I want a recommendation, I'll call and ask.
As I opined last month, what I really want is a network that caters to my own tastes—a so-called "personal TV network." Knowing there's so much content available on television and the Internet, I want a consolidator to go out and draw it all together so I can record and watch it whenever I want, in spite of snarky "Yawn..." comments made by some disaffected readers.
Well this week I got a call from a Burlingame, California, company called MeeVee that aims to do just that. MeeVee is a service that provides search and discovery technology it claims offers "television viewers and video content enthusiasts...a smarter, easier way to navigate the growing universe of television programming and video content." The company received an "Official Honoree" designation at this year's Webby Awards and seems to be on the right track. "TV isn't just what you watch at a certain time anymore," President Michael Raneri told me last week as he made his way back to San Francisco from a meeting with Microsoft. "Now it extends beyond TV to what you watch on a PC, your phone or any other small device."
According to Raneri, MeeVee aims to allow users to define the content they're looking content via categories, keywords and other attributes. "You can literally create your own personal channel," he adds. MeeVee also provides an international list of streaming channels. Unlike the U.S., a great deal of television around the world is state owned. MeeVee plans to metatag all that content and make it available to viewers interested in a particular subject matter. For example, Raneri says, you may be interested in sailing but have no idea about video available on the myriad websites out there. MeeVee will gather all that programming and help you access it.
The company is currently working with cable companies looking to make video available via their portals. More interesting, however, is that MeeVee is developing a peer-to-peer player that allows users to download shows in the background and stream DVD-quality video from a hard drive.
"Cable no longer has a lock on how people get content," says Raneri. "And if you can take the masses by the hand and introduce them to this new world, you'll have a very loyal user."
Perhaps even those that currently yawn at the idea.