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TK's MORNING BUZZ: If the Biggest Obstacle to Internet VOD is Getting the Movie Onto the TV, Then Sonicblue's Reborn ReplayTV is Onto Something Big

6 Sep, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Big news day, eh?

The business and entertainment press yesterday was beside itself with the latest VOD bombshell: Disney and Fox had confirmed speculation that the two studios were forming a joint venture, Movies.com, to deliver video-on-demand over the Internet -- just weeks after five other studios had announced a similar joint venture.

Another big story: Boffo advance sales for Microsoft's Xbox. Although the much-ballyhooed new video game console isn't scheduled to arrive in stores until Nov. 8, the Reuters news service reported yesterday that Amazon and Toys "R" Us, through their online partnership, presold their initial batch of Xbox game players in 30 minutes. Consoles were only available bundled with games and accessories for $499, $200 above what the player alone will sell for.

Lost in the shuffle was what I consider a very significant announcement: the reborn Replay TV, through its new SONICblue Inc. owner, announced the launch of a series of new digital video recorders with broadband connectivity. While the old model of these personal video recorders allowed users to tape stuff off their TV without using a videocassette, this new generation also allows users to download video from the Internet -- digitally, of course -- and play it on their television sets.

The four models are quite pricey, ranging from $660 for a stripped-down model with up to 40 hours of storage to $1,999 for the top-of-the-line model with up to 320 hours of storage.

But think of the potential: pristine, digital copies of your favorites movies or programs, watchable whenever you want them, on your TV set, just a mouse click or two away.

Awhile back, I was talking to a key player in the VOD-Internet camp, and he privately expressed his biggest concern was whether people would want to watch a movie on their computer. "That's our biggest obstacle," he told me. "We can get the movie onto their computer. The problem is getting it onto their TV."

No longer, I guess. SONICblue certainly is onto something -- something very, very big.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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