Wednesday, September 17, 2008

TV Over The Internet .... How Does TVoIP Work And Where Can You Get It?

TV over the internet technology ..... or TVoIP for short .... allows for something far richer than just channels; instead, service providers can store pre-recorded content purchased from studios and use their existing bandwidth to create a variety of new revenue-generating bandwidth and pricing bundles that satisfy a wide variety of viewing needs. As TVoIP technology becomes more widespread, more types of providers will emerge offering new types of content.

Today's TVoIP models employ four main components--an encoder, a server farm, a set-top box and middleware--that all exist today.

• The encoder works as a media gateway, preparing video content for distribution throughout the IP network. It encodes analog signals into digital format (e.g., MPEG, Windows Media) and demodulates, demultiplexes and transcodes digital formats such as Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB).

• The server farm hosts pre-recorded television content and feature films. A network personal video recorder (PVR) function lets viewers rewind, fast-forward and replay television programming stored on the server farm.

• The subscriber's set-top box receives the media stream, typically via a customer premise equipment (CPE) device such as an asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) modem, and decodes it for display on a television set. The box's user interface lets customers interact with video servers.

• Middleware software integrates the elements of TVoIP into a complete system. It handles media asset management, channel management and scheduling, billing, security and conditional access, system management and other management functions.

Cons:

Listening to your family complain that it just doesn't work like Cable TV.

Pros:

Lot's more content. Plenty of independent stuff like Anaboom and Wallstrip that CATV won't carry. Since the FCC doesn't regulate TVoIP, there is also Adult content (if you are into that).

TVoIP tends to be more video on demand and less broadcast. It takes a change of mindset to get used to.

Services and Programs

Here is a list to give you an idea (and get you started if you're interested) .....

* Joost: The favorite of many so far. You download the Joost viewer and browse through the channels or use the search function. Lots of content, full episodes. New stuff added daily.

* Hulu: Not very impressive. Mostly just clips, not full episodes. Even the shows that say they have full episodes will have maybe one or two full shows and then a bunch of clips.

* Veoh: They do restream hulu content, as well as some others. Looks like there may be content overlap with Joost.

* JLC's internet TV: Many like this one too. But it can be frustrating. The channel listing has many bad links. But once you find the good ones... This is one of the few that tunes in streams, not VOD. Lots of independent content, all the religious channels seem to be present.

* TVUnetworks: Don't know much on this one .... but some seem to like it.

* Amazon Unbox (yes, that Amazon): Lots of great content, at $1.99 per episode.

* In2Streams.com: Looks interesting. It's a subscriptions based service, $10.99 a month I think. From what I understand, you download a playlist into your Media Player. It works with VLC and Winamp. One of the few that should work with Linux, and Macs.

* JohnQ.com, Dishnetpc.com, PremiumTVforPC.com, WatchTVonPC.com, SatelliteTVonPC.com, and a host of others with simular names: They sell you a software viewer that is supposed to recieve over 9,000 channels (if you believe the hype). I have heard that most of these are not worth it. If you want to give it a try you can go to Undernation.com and find a cracked version of DishnetPC to try out.

* Miro: It's kind of like JLC's Internet TV on steroids. It will tune in streams like JLC. But it also claims it will scrape video links off web pages, so if you type in the URL of a web page, it will give you a list of the streams. It will also manage your RSS video feeds as well. Warning, it likes to download video to your hard drive. Make sure you have plenty of room.

* Video.discovery.com: A download of a viewer to watch shows from the Discovery network (Discovery channel, History channel, etc.). Sounds intriguing.

* Vuze: Don't know much about this one.

* For sports there are live streaming sites such as:

- ESPN
- MLB (major league baseball)
- NFL Anytime (National Football League)

There you go. Everything you need to know about TV over the internet. What it is, how it works, and where you can get it if you'd like to see for yourself (pun intended).

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