Where My R&D Cash Would be Going if I Ran Tivo

July 22, 2008

I saw in the paper today that Tivo is coming out with a thing where you can hit a button and buy a product that you're seeing on TV. Say John Stewart is interviewing a guest about a book he wrote. You hit a button on the remote, and a box from Amazon shows up with your book a few days later.

This is a cool feature, and I'll be glad to have it, but to be honest, I won't ever buy something this way.

If I were a Tivo executive, I would be working with a major hotel change on a hotel room version of Tivo. Guests would be able to log into web sites, enter their confirmation number, and record shows that would then be available on special Tivo boxes in their rooms. Guests would also be able to pull programming down from their home Tivo boxes and watch it in their rooms.

If one major hotel chain had this feature, the guests would flock there. Maybe not in Manhattan or San Francisco or New Orleans, but there are millions of business travelers in boring-ass rooms in boring-ass cities right now who would pay a premium for this feature.

I would also be POURING money into a project to integrate Slingbox into Tivo boxes. Then, travelers with internet anywhere can watch their own TV on their laptops. You don't think I would have cut off my pinkie for such a luxury last year in Yaroslavl?

While I'm pointing out improvements needed by Tivo, their web site could really use an update. They have the same stale lists of what celebrities are recording, and the same tired show recommendations that they've always had up. They need me to read TV columnists all week, and then give recommended viewing links to shows people really might enjoy. Especially when it comes to finding new shows.

Because I'm a television.lover, I read columns written by TV writers. I checked them out Saturday morning while my wife and kid were taking a nap. They were all reviewing Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, and it was unanimously favorable.

I went to the site, and watched the three 15-minute episodes back to back to back. It's a production from Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly) which chronicals an evil inventor's attempt to attract the attention of a do-gooder, battle his musclehead superhero nemesis, and get accepted into the Evil Leage of Evil. And there's singing. Lots of singing.

The lines (both spoken and sung) are quotable and fantastic. I went and watched the whole show again Sunday night.

I went to post a link Monday morning, and the episodes were down. Instead, there's a link where you can buy them for $6.00 from Itunes. Six dollars seems like a bit much for a 45-minute show, but I'm sure there are pirate copies out there by now. If you can find them, they're worth a watch. I think it might even be funnier the second time.

There are three "suspension of disbelief" shows that I'm eagerly anticipating next TV year. Whedon's Dollhouse and J. J. Abram's (Lost, Twin Peaks) Fringe get me excited based entirely on the producers' pedigree. I'm also hopeful about the Americanized Life On Mars. I saw the first two or three versions of the British series, and it intrigued me. Unfortunately, I'm not a big watcher of BBC America, and never caught it again. I suppose I could have Tivo'd it.