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Convergence, Version Umpteenth; It's No Pipedream

News item: TiVo users will soon be able to watch videos downloaded from the Web on their TV sets, another sign of the convergence between TV and the PC.
News item: TiVo users will soon be able to watch videos downloaded from the Web on their TV sets, another sign of the convergence between TV and the PC.Teaming with Net video distributor Brightcove, TiVo will phase in a number of videos it will make available to customers of its digital video recording system. The two companies say the deal opens the possibility of monetizing the distribution through advertising, subscription plans, or pay-per-view. Initially, video will be offered for free to TiVo subscribers and may carry advertising within the content. Neither company identified what video will be offered.

Of course, the idea of delivering content designed for the Web over the TV isn't new. In the early '80s, I was part of a team at Time Inc. developing an information service using teletext technology, sort of a precursor to today's Internet. Time's unfulfilled dream was to exploit its cable TV system, then the nation's second largest, and deliver content over the vertical blanking interval of TV signals. We developed an attractive product for the time--it looked sort of like the early versions of AOL and Prodigy, services that came later. But there was no mass market for teletext, and Time dumped the project in late 1983 after spending $35 million on it over two and a half years.

Still, the TiVo/Brightcove announcement reminds me that the dream of convergence of technologies is one for the ages. This time, it's no pipedream.