Akimbo Launch PVR-over-IP Box

Akimbo Systems launched their television-via-Internet service yesterday at Demo2004. They are claiming the service will start with over 10,000 hours of video content, organised in to 50 categories, will be pulled from a variety of sources. The number of hours available will grow to 20,000.

The $199 player, which is expected to be in US retail stores in late 2004, receives content via a broadband connection and can hold 200 hours of video, in Microsoft’s WM9 DRM-controlled format on it’s 80Gb drive. Subscription to the service is $9.99 per month.

This product is the first of released example of the long spoken about idea of distributing content by passing previously used broadcast structures. Akimbo claim a number of factors have now come together to enable the services to become realistic; the cost of transporting a gigabyte of video over the Internet has dropped to around $1 from $20 a few years ago; video compression has improved to the point that DVD-quality video can fit into a 1.5 megabit per second stream; broadband has grown to an audience of 50m people.

Given it is initially a dedicated box, that we assume will be closed to customer enhancements, it will live or die by the content they can secure for the service. We suspect the service may well morph in to a content channel when more PC’s are connected to the TV in the lounge.

Akimbo are canvassing for new content from video rights owners and are giving the option for subscription, rental, purchase, or advertising supported model. Their big pitch is niche content direct to the consumer and they will handle transactions, delivering the due fees to the rights holders.

We feel the other vital component for them to get right is the navigation of the content, enabling consumers to actually find the programmes that they want to watch.