Thursday, November 10, 2005

Yahoo and Tivo take a step toward Coactive TV

What was announced on 11/7 is just a baby step, but this alliance could be a watershed. Now you can schedule your Tivo while Web surfing on Yahoo with your PC. Web scheduling of Tivos is not new. Doing it from Yahoo's TV pages does not seem like much of a step further.

But this is a step toward the Media Concierge, one that both Yahoo and Tivo can easily build into a killer linkage of Web and TV services.

Right now, I can't find a recommender (like Tivo's) on Yahoo TV. But AOL TV has one. Tivo may still be hesitant to take its crown jewels off its closed TV box, but that seems inevitable. Once it is there on Yahoo, I can sit down once or twice a week with my PC to review recommendations, link to reviews from Yahoo or any Web source, check RottenTomatoes or MetaCritic, check my friends opinions (maybe using structured blogging), and then just click what I want to record.

It also lays the foundations for real coactivity, where what you see on the Web is in the context of what you watch on TV, what I call CoTV. CoTV is aimed at the millions of people who frequently surf the Web on a laptop while watching TV on their TV. CoTV connects those media activities.

One of the hurdles for CoTV is privacy: will people be concerned that some Web site knows what they are watching on TV? But if you scheduled your Tivo to record a program from Yahoo, you already know and accept that Yahoo knows that. So if Yahoo gives you links related to that program (or to ads running with that program) while you are watching it, you won't be very surprised or concerned. (And Yahoo could give you an opt in that lets you turn it off completely or selectively.)

That means Yahoo can begin to exploit the many opportunities of CoTV, such as

  • Showing pages related to what you are watching -- sports statistics, movie casts, news stories and background.
  • Showing ads related to the ads you are watching (or skipping) -- where the big money is.
  • Moving on to advanced ways to richly coordinate Web and TV tasks such as those that as I describe as "link-and-pause"

Plus, the Times article on this notes that similar linkage is coming for Media Center PCs. This may start as just ordinary-Web-on-the-TV-box, but again, real CoTV may get a new opportunity to take root as well. And the Media Center PC is an open box that Yahoo can build rich function into as it desires.

This kind of power-assisted multitasking has been slow to develop, and may continue to be slow, but the pieces are falling into place...