Saturday, September 23, 2006

Amazon, TiVo Team Up Has Potential


There are reports out that Amazon and TiVo are teaming up to offer a new twist in the movie download game. It seems movies from Unbox might soon be available for TiVo users to send directly to their TV sets.

The idea has some serious merit if it’s handled right.

Right now Unbox has a pretty decent representation of movie studios available, offering a combination of rentals and purchases. The site is very new in the movie download game, and it’s reportedly got some serious bugs to work out. Cited as being a “technical disaster,” perhaps the biggest problem with Unbox is also one of its perks - the back up system.

Unbox does create a DVD-quality file with each download that can be burned to DVD for a backup. Taking away the fear of losing a purchase with a hard drive crash, this feature is great. What’s not so great is the fact the DVD can’t be played in an actual DVD player.

Herein lies the quandary for movie and TV download sites. With fears about piracy high, the studios and subsequently most sites are hesitant to allow buyers to download and burn DVDs for viewing. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that most people simply don’t enjoy watching a blockbuster on a teeny computer screen.

While there are some movements afoot to make burns more acceptable to studios and some sites do offer limited burn ability, no set answer has been found to satisfy both the studios and consumers completely.

Enter the potential TiVo agreement. This would at least allow buyers and renters to see their movies and TV shows on bigger screens when they desire to do so. With the backup DVD, they would have their bases covered.

The problem is not everyone has TiVo or even wants it. The service is great, but many cable companies offer their own DVR services. Now, if Amazon used the TiVo deal as a start up for other similar deals to come, perhaps it would be on to something.

All in all, it sounds like a good way to get around one of the major complaints about downloads while still making the process easy enough most people could figure out how to make it work.