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ShadowTV
April 20, 2001 2:45 AM   Subscribe

ShadowTV is tomorrow's technology today -- its "TiVo on steroids," according to Joachim Kim, a creator of a new technology that enables users (which may at sometime include the public on a subscription model) to pull up video-quality or better streaming footage of any television show that aired or is currently airing, including (or not including) the commercials, all in a handy web application.

The limitations are endless.

Such a technology could prove deadly for the big TV networks (down the road sometime), although ShadowTV seems optimistic to work with content providers. [Thanks to Professor Michael Rosenblum at NYU for introducing our Televison and the Information Explosion class to tomorrow' technology.]

Now, let me begin planning that 7-season Star Trek: Voyager marathon...
posted by nyukid (45 comments total)

 
That is, if I want to watch TV on my desktop monitor or laptop. Thanks, but I'll take my 16x9-enhanced HD widescreen.

Though I am intrigued, as I am in the interactive TV industry. Their web site is not very informative. There are so many bandwidth restrictions currently...I don't know...
posted by sbgrove at 2:53 AM on April 20, 2001


If it's not a joke, and all being run by one guy, it sure sounds a lot like what this company has been doing for a while
posted by owillis at 2:57 AM on April 20, 2001


Well, sbgrove, one of the major advantages I see in all of this is that it would enable the world to escape fromt he notion of "'Friends' comes on at 8" in exchange for "Friends will come on whenever I damn well please" as well as "'Friends' Season 3 will be shown as a marathon fo the entire week at my house."


Also, since I got the sneak preview in my class, I should mention that the video stream they have now is running at 100K, which would provide VHS or better quality streamign video over a 56K modem.


It's all about the new technology, man. These guys are smart.
posted by nyukid at 2:59 AM on April 20, 2001


Ah, owillis, the main feature of ShadowTV, as it was explained to me, is that they are working with actual television channels such as NBC, CNBC, and ESPN and taping their entire broadcast each day (and have been doing so since September.


posted by nyukid at 3:03 AM on April 20, 2001


Right... and the other big feature is a searchable database of NOT VIDEO CLIPS but actual full-length programs.
posted by nyukid at 3:05 AM on April 20, 2001


Am I the only one who finds blatant brown-nosing of professors in MeFi threads disturbing?
posted by tamim at 3:07 AM on April 20, 2001


Video @ 100k on a 56k modem = VHS quality, right, yeah you really know your stuff. Last company that tapped in to the closed caption feed to do searches was fastv and they're gone.
posted by owillis at 3:20 AM on April 20, 2001


Wasn't there a company last year that tried to do this and got shot down by the networks? What makes this thing any different? The fact he hasn't been caught yet? I wouldn't guarantee this is gonna go much farther, unless it's actually being run by a subsidiary of a subsidiary of a company that is buddy buddy with the Big Boys.

Y'know I'd settle for the studios making all their television programs accessible for rental or purchase via videotape. I want a full collection of X-Files and MST3K, but I'm lucky to have the ones I do. And swapping is time-consuming, frustrating, and the end result is often of questionable quality.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:43 AM on April 20, 2001


Mst3k tape swapping is a bit of an artform, well, more like magic, you know, if you do the right spell and kill your next door neighbors' cat as a sacrifice to Satan you'll get something good. Sigh.

I'm thinking it would be a lot easier at times to just pay someone to do copies. There was a person I once talked to, she didn't charge for profit (which was alright with Barb), but just for the cost of the tapes, maybe I aughta get a credit card or something. heh.
posted by tiaka at 5:24 AM on April 20, 2001


The limitations are endless?

That's just what I was looking for: an infinitely limited medium.
posted by xiffix at 5:43 AM on April 20, 2001


Ohh, and regarding this thing -

Also, since I got the sneak preview in my class, I should mention that the video stream they have now is running at 100K, which would provide VHS or better quality streamign video over a 56K modem.

Right. Do you or your professor own the company or something?

Have you ever tried to run a 100k stream over 56k? You get buffering every 20 seconds, even over cable. The feed would not at all come close to VHS quality. Try watching a VCD. Sounds like a lot of dot-com style of bullshit new economy, talk marketing - "revolutionize the front-end of back-side non-generic, user applications". heh.
posted by tiaka at 5:56 AM on April 20, 2001


The limitations are endless.

I would rather have the possibilities be endless...

I don't like being limited.
posted by da5id at 6:16 AM on April 20, 2001


ShadowTV would be a boon for the nets. Imagine - charging people licensing fees to watch old TV shows! Why should these things be free? Instead of laying out money to advertisers, they could just hit the viewers up for some cash.

That 7-season Voyager marathon could cost you a few hundred bucks. Yeah, that's fantastic.

Also: I already do timeshifting with TiVo, and steroids are bad for you.
posted by hijinx at 6:17 AM on April 20, 2001


You know, I might be fairly willing to pay for some of my favorite TV shows with cash rather than by watching advertising, if the prices of the products I buy weren't jacked up by advertising costs.
posted by harmful at 7:21 AM on April 20, 2001


Explain to me again why I want to watch TV on my computer.

Explain to me again why I want to watch TV at all.
posted by briank at 7:34 AM on April 20, 2001


Am I the only one who finds blatant brown-nosing of professors in MeFi threads disturbing?

I agree. The only recipient of brown-nosing on Metafilter should be Matt.
posted by crunchland at 7:37 AM on April 20, 2001


briank, explain to me why you would bother to post to a thread where by your own admission you have no interest at all.
posted by Skot at 8:14 AM on April 20, 2001


Well, it's important that we know he's above watching TV. Me, I won't even listen to someone who's unhip enough to actually own one. Unless you only watch Simpsons.
That's OKTM.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:24 AM on April 20, 2001


My sarcasm about not being interested in the current state of television programming notwithstanding, the first point is entirely relevant -- how is this somehow better or more worthwhile than other existing technology.

I'll be sure to wave my big red sarcasm flag just for you next time, Skot.
posted by briank at 8:31 AM on April 20, 2001


As an aside, I thought it would be cool if the major news media would make their archive of news footage of fifty or some-odd years available on the net for a price. I think it would be cool to have access to live footage of Iran-Contra hearings, old pieces about communism, and great sports moments. I know it is probably impossible on a mammoth scale, but it would be cool no doubt. The kitsch value would be through the roof, not to mention the ability to review the influence of public opinion.


More on topic, wouldn't shadow TV be effectively ripping off the major networks by saving and selling their footage? There must be some deal.
posted by mblandi at 8:55 AM on April 20, 2001


Oh, I'm sorry you said working with major television networks....
posted by mblandi at 9:11 AM on April 20, 2001


I'll be sure to wave my big red sarcasm flag just for you next time, Skot.

I didn't miss the sarcasm, but hey, I'm sure your flag will be very pretty. [Several other snottier posts deleted.]

Look, yes, your first point was relevant. Sorry. I just get touchy about "TV sucks!" posts to threads about, well, TV. I just don't get why people have to be vocal about a medium that they can so easily switch off. That's all.
posted by Skot at 9:32 AM on April 20, 2001


You can switch it off? I can't. It's my master.
posted by owillis at 10:14 AM on April 20, 2001


Shadow TV will never fly, at least not to the TV audience at large. The limiting factor with all these "TV via the Internet" schemes (besides the fact that people don't want to watch TV on their PC) is that it doesn't take advantage of the big pipe of TV data already coming into everyone's home via cable, satellite dish, or plain old antenna. The Internet just can't support all that video, streaming or otherwise. TiVo and ReplayTV work because they take advantage of that exisiting structure.

Plus, people don't want to watch TV on their PC.
posted by jkottke at 10:24 AM on April 20, 2001


[sbgrove] That is, if I want to watch TV on my desktop monitor or laptop. Thanks, but I'll take my 16x9-enhanced HD widescreen.

[briank] Explain to me again why I want to watch TV on my computer.

[jkottke] Plus, people don't want to watch TV on their PC.

Huh? You guys are entirely dismissing the possibility that you could display the video on your TV screen. Why does it have to be about your computer? And don't say it's impossible (or at least too difficult) to set that up. If this kind of service becomes feasible (i.e. TV networks' cooperation and moderate-to-high bandwidth in most homes), manufacturers will be tripping over themselves to provide an easy way to do exactly that.

Heck, why not route it all through a set-top box like the TiVo? Just plug the box into your home network (which is connected to your high-speed line) and your TV and you can search through their database easily and quickly and watch anything you want, whenever you want. They could even force you to watch commercials if they took the trouble to tweak the software in the right way, so the networks could have no real objection.

[jkottke] these "TV via the Internet" schemes ... [don't] take advantage of the big pipe of TV data already coming into everyone's home via cable, satellite dish, or plain old antenna. The Internet just can't support all that video, streaming or otherwise.

Good point, for now. But bigger bandwidth/better compression/predictive downloading/local-area proxy/broadcast IP/whatever else along with better usage of the existing bandwidth available (in the form of satellite dishes, cable, antennae) could get us to the point that we can support it.
posted by daveadams at 10:37 AM on April 20, 2001


jkottke, exactly my point.

Well, sbgrove, one of the major advantages I see in all of this is that it would enable the world to escape from the notion of "'Friends' comes on at 8" in exchange for "Friends will come on whenever I damn well please" as well as "'Friends' Season 3 will be shown as a marathon fo the entire week at my house."

Uh...nyukid, see TiVo, Replay, UltimateTV, the new PVR from Echostar...

daveadams, you make some good points, but with low-cost PVRs just beginning to break through, why bother routing video on a PC through your TV?

And on the other side, high end set-top boxes and PVRs aren't setting the marketplace on fire. Plus the vast majority of satellite customers do NOT even plug their set-top boxes into a phone line, let alone have DSL or broadband STBs and/or connections. How are you going to get this demographic to adopt a PC-to-TV link? I think lower-cost PVRs have a better chance of success.

But anyway, to me, ShadowTV sounds awfully thin, and someone got a very slick marketing presentation...
posted by sbgrove at 10:51 AM on April 20, 2001


jkottke and sbgrove are on the money on this, daveadams. Even if you did pipe it to your TV, the network infrastructure compared to the cable infrastructure can't justify it.

Skot -- sorry if I pushed a hot button for you, but I hope you'll agree that I was trying to make a valid point. Thank you for deleting the snottier posts.
posted by briank at 11:10 AM on April 20, 2001


[Skot: don't kill me - yes, I'm posting in a TV thread, but I have a good excuse!]

What I want to know is, what does this mean:
the video stream they have now is running at 100K, which would provide VHS or better quality streamign video over a 56K modem.

How exactly do you fit a 100 kilobit-per-second stream through a 56 kilobit-per-second pipe? If you're using a 56 Kbps modem, aren't you (by definition) limited to streams of 56 K or less?

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:37 AM on April 20, 2001


Since there's nothing of any substance on the linked website, I'm curious to know who the intended audience for this is. To my knowledge, there is no existing profitable model for net-based video, for the wide variety of reasons stated above; how is this any different, except that somehow someone associated with the company was smart enough to get one of their students to post about it here?
posted by m.polo at 12:28 PM on April 20, 2001


I rain a hail of death onto thy offending head, Mars!

Geez, I never meant to make myself into the Bad Cop of any MeFi threads.

Is it just me, or does the first thing that springs to mind whenever "internet" and "video" come up is: p0rn?
posted by Skot at 12:46 PM on April 20, 2001


This sounds like exactly the same sort of thing the Canadian company iCraveTV was doing before the networks shut them down last year. How is ShadowTV going to avoid the same problems iCraveTV had?

And all the things you mentioned in your post, nyukid, ("Friends will come on whenever I damn well please", etc.) are things people have been doing with their VCRs for a long, long time.

Plus, as Mars pointed out, it's kinda hard to stream 100Kbps over a 56Kbps line...

For some reason, I am reminded of this mousepad.
posted by Potsy at 1:28 PM on April 20, 2001


I guess the poster said it best:

"The limitations are endless."
posted by Witold at 6:29 PM on April 20, 2001


Alright, alright, so I said "the limitations are endless" -- I made a mistake. Sorry.


The main advantage ShadowTV brings is not only that you would be able to do "TiVo-like" things through an Internet stream, but that it has the possiblility of changing the entire structure of our video based society. There will no longer be a need for the Networks when there exists a technology that allows the breakdown of the current advertiser-consumer model (that is, we determine what you see because that's what advertisers would pay the most to advertise during.)

This is beneficial not only for the average couch potato that will be able to cue up ANY show or commercial that they would like to at any time they want to, but also for anyone who wanted to create there own video productions. Its like what our society was able to accomplish with print... anyone can potentially create any work they wish and distribute it to others. The Internet definitely can have such a structure (as it evolves). Televison, however, evolved into force-fed spoonfuls of what the TV executives want you to see, when they want you to see it. Although that is how TV works today, with such implementations as ShadowTV and other such technologies, televison can become a medium of expression for anyone who wishes to use it, just as painting or poetry are today.


You'll see. (And no, I don't hold any shares in the company... I just think it is the way the Internet has to evolve. In case you haven't noticed, the computer and the television are currently attempting to merge in function and usability, pay attention.)

posted by nyukid at 11:35 PM on April 20, 2001


On the other hand, stuff like this would be nice for other reasons. I heard a lot about the original UK Queer as Folk and after reading some recaps and viewing a few clips, I decided I'd really like to see it. Tough! It's not for rent. Not in stores. Amazon only has series one-- but not the concluding movie. I had to buy a copy from the UK via eBay. I've now been waiting more than two weeks to see it since I originally decided to track it down, and if I'm lucky it'll get here in the mail before I go on vacation next week.

TiVo wouldn't help with that, because the UK QaF isn't being broadcast in the U.S. As nifty as stuff like TiVo is, it's not video on demand. Neither is ShadowTV or Virage, but it sounds marginally closer. If it would help me get my hands on what I want to watch when I actually wanna watch it, I'd be mighty interested.
posted by Zettai at 11:46 PM on April 20, 2001


Psssst. You can get the uk version of queer as folk here, though.
posted by crunchland at 4:38 AM on April 21, 2001


[briank] jkottke and sbgrove are on the money on this, daveadams. Even if you did pipe it to your TV, the network infrastructure compared to the cable infrastructure can't justify it.

Right. Like I said, it's not feasible now. In my opinion, we're going to eventually move nearly all our data communications to IP networks, and video-on-demand almost surely would need something IP-ish. The only way we aren't going to see something like that is if demand for on-demand TV (heh) doesn't really materialize. If people are plenty happy with broadcast and the limited proxying you can do with PVRs, then I suppose we'll stay on the cable network.

Again, yes, the current broadcast networks have much more bandwidth now, but new investment isn't going into broadcast bandwidth, it's going into switched networks--IP networks. We'll get there. Maybe not through plain-old IP routing but with a confluence of technologies such as local proxying of popular data on topologically-closer nodes in the network (e.g. your local ISP. AOL already does this with popular websites).

Nevertheless, I wasn't trying to argue that ShadowTV was going to succeed, but that the future of video-on-demand would be through the IP network, not the broadcast network (broadcast is the antithesis of on-demand). Which leads to our next question:

why bother routing video on a PC through your TV [versus using a relatively cheap PVR]?

Three words: centralized data storage. If I had my way, we'd be moving towards digital households having mini-SANs serving up the storage needs of every computing device in the household. This would allow dynamic storage growth and RAID to protect data, and it would save costs over providing RAID and massive storage in each device. So you store all your documents, Internet cache, digital photos, MP3s (or raw music files!), DVD images, and other video (selected from the on-demand network, cached from the broadcast network, downloaded from your digital video camera, etc.) in one place. That's the way many server farms are moving (if they have the money... SANs can be $$$$$!).

People moving CD collections to MP3s on their hard drives and people buying TiVos are just the first steps in this evolution.

But that's just my vision for a consumer-friendly digital household. The manufacturers probably don't want it to happen that way. But even if it does, it'll be years before it's feasible.

Of course, I could be wrong. Probably am.
posted by daveadams at 10:08 AM on April 21, 2001


nyukid, your method of emphasis reminds me of an infomercial. Looks to me like you're astroturfing, rather than opening a discussion.

And you've got to admit that Witold caught you. That one is classic. If Metafilter had signature files, I'd have grabbed it for my own ...
posted by dhartung at 10:11 AM on April 21, 2001


In case you haven't noticed ... pay attention.

How very condescending. You know, most people have been aware of the talk of "convergence" for several years now. It's not news.

Oh, and by the way...
posted by Potsy at 10:55 AM on April 21, 2001


But that's just my vision for a consumer-friendly digital household. The manufacturers probably don't want it to happen that way. But even if it does, it'll be years before it's feasible.

As long as you're willing to grant that your predictions are wildly optimistic, Dave. :-) By then, of course, something much better will have come along and made this all irrelevant anyway.
posted by briank at 6:44 PM on April 21, 2001


Oh, and WTF with all the colored text today? I know there's a hot conversation about this going on in MetaTalk, but meanwhile I gotta look at purple text on a blue background? Eeesh.
posted by briank at 6:45 PM on April 21, 2001


well, it could be worse...
posted by crunchland at 8:15 PM on April 21, 2001


briank, I agree with you. On both points.

Colored text is just plain annoying. STOP IT!! :)
posted by daveadams at 10:25 PM on April 21, 2001


Sorry. But I still think ShadowTV has potential. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!
posted by nyukid at 9:46 PM on April 23, 2001


Stuff like ShadowTV abounds ...check out www.dredium.com, similar product. WHat's the edge that ShadowTV has?
posted by shanx24 at 5:49 PM on January 27, 2002


Hmm, coffee deficiency. www.dremedia.com is what I meant.
posted by shanx24 at 6:01 PM on January 27, 2002


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