The New York Times is reporting that Warner Brothers will be offering free downloads of classic TV shows on a P2P network run by AOL. The catch, they say, is that users will have to stay on the network and take some of the burden of distribution off of AOL servers. The TV shows will also have 1-2 minute ads that will help generate revenues for Warner Brothers and create an incentive for people to go out and buy the DVD sets.
This sounds like a good plan, but with every network doing their own thing (and their own DRM), will there be one portable video player that will be able to handle all these different formats? Is portable video really necessary to succeed in the downloadable video space? After all, video is an active medium, you can't really be doing anything else while watching it like you can with music and so the appeal of a portable device is diminished.
From personal experience with my video iPod, I can tell you that video isn't "there" yet like music is. In the month or so I've had with the iPod, I've watched 3 hours of video max. First off, getting the video on to the machine, while not difficult, does take some time. I have to download a video, then convert it and finally transfer it over. Second, if I have the time/resources to sit down and watch a video, I probably have the opportunity to watch it on a bigger screen. Like I said before, portable video requires much more attention than portable music. I can't watch a video while walking to class without looking up every few seconds to make sure I don't run into anything. I also can't watch a video if I am doing something that requires both hands, like eating, since I need one hand to hold the device up (yes, this is easily fixed with some kind of stand, but without it being integrated into the device, it's easy to not carry a stand around and so the problem still exists).
As much as I don't want to run a seperate player for each network's shows, its much easier to do so than it is to carry (and purchase, for that matter) a seperate device to take the video with me. Who's to say I want to watch the video on a portable device anyway? "Free as in speech" arguments aside, I for one welcome our new proprietary (but free) video overlords.
Technorati Tags: iPod, video, TV, downloads, Warner Brothers, proprietary formats, portable video, AOL, DRM