Saturday, January 17, 2009

Boxee may break the grip of tier-based broadcast services

Boxee may be just what we've all been waiting for to eliminate the gatekeeping of broadcast content by traditional cable and satellite providers. For years I have been frustrated by the "tier" system of purchasing broadcast content from first cable then later satellite television providers. Right now I have to pay for the maximum tier from Dish Network just to get History Channel International and the National Geographic Channel. They tout the tier as 250 America's best channels but we only watch about 15. I have no interest in using my television to play music. I have no interest in sports channels (and my husband doesn't either). I have no interest in religious channels or shopping channels or channels that blare the latest stock market reports (I can check the trading on particular stocks faster on the web). I don't have kids at home anymore so I don't need the cartoon channels, Nickelodian or the Disney channels. I'm not into racy programming so I don't need the adult channels. Netflix is far more cost effective than any of the Pay-per-view channels.

At least I have the ability to set up "Mary's favorites" so I don't have to scroll past all of the noise to select the few channels I want to watch. Even then, if I could watch programs on demand, I don't really need to constantly subscribe to even my preferred channels. The History Channel and the Military Channel rely far too heavily on old WWII newsreel footage to fill hours of programming time. Although the History Channel has been doing a little better lately, at one point in time people were calling it the "Hitler Channel". The Military Channel has also aired a few ancient warfare programs that were interesting too like "Warriors" and "The Battle for Rome" but spend most of their time acting as a running advertisement for US arms dealers and the Defense Department. Anyway, services like Boxee, in combination with websites offering on demand video, could finally put an end to this ridiculous business model that makes consumers spend so much money on product they don't even want. Of course I would have to wait for a PC version of the program and finally get around to giving up my Mitsubishi big screen TV and invest in some HD model.

"Boxee bills its software as a simple way to access multiple Internet video and music sites, and to bring them to a large monitor or television that one might be watching from a sofa across the room.

Some of Boxee’s fans also think it is much more: a way to euthanize that costly $100-a-month cable or satellite connection.

“Boxee has allowed me to replace cable with no remorse,” said Jef Holbrook, a 27-year-old actor in Columbus, Ga., who recently downloaded the Boxee software to the $600 Mac Mini he has connected to his television. “Most people my age would like to just pay for the channels they want, but cable refuses to give us that option. Services like Boxee, that allow users choice, are the future of television.”

The software, which is free and available for download at, works on Mac and Linux computers, and on Apple’s set-top box, Apple TV. A version of Boxee for Windows PCs is being tested among a limited group of users.

Boxee gives users a single interface to access all the photos, video and music on their hard drives, along with a wide range of television shows, movies and songs from sites like Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and

Unlike the increasingly long and convoluted channel directories on most cable and satellite systems, Boxee offers a well-organized directory, which can be navigated using the remote controls that now ship with most computers."
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