Internet TV provider ZillionTV, another company offering an alternative to cable, launched today. According to a preview from the LA Times, the service includes some features that separate it in some ways from other internet-streaming options like Boxee and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Media Center's set-top box. Those include better-quality streaming, rewards programs to encourage viewers to actually watch the ads it runs, and a slick set-top box and remote control that make for easier viewing of internet streams on the TV.
While bringing internet streams to the television screen in theory represents a huge potential business opportunity, ZillionTV could face some of the same problems that have hurt its competitors recently, the most obvious of which being securing content for the long-term. As we reported a couple weeks ago, Hulu pulled its content from Boxee
when cable operators put pressure on the networks that provide Hulu with content to make their online shows exclusive to cable subscribers. Cable operators like Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) and Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) have been eyeing their own internet-streaming service that would be open only to their subscribers. They argue that since they pay the networks a lot of money each year to carry their channels, they should have exclusive access to the online streaming of those shows as well.
For now, the cable companies appear to be primarily concerned with streaming services that also offer a set-top box to transfer videos to the TV, so it will be interesting to see how cable operators react to ZillionTV.
By Rory Maher