TiVo and Brightcove Push the Long Tail Deeper Into Your Living Room

USATODAY.com – TiVo hooks up with Internet video and ad sales service DVR Pioneer TiVo and Internet TV Pioneer Brightcove have teamed up to begin offering Brightcove’s Internet TV content on your TiVo.

Brightcove has been assembling a strong line up of aggregated internet TV including offerings from Discovery Communications, MTV, Reuters, The New York Times, National Lampoon, SmartMoney and Farmer’s Almanac, per USA Today.

As with most things TiVo, DirecTV TiVo subscribers are once again left out in the cold (DirecTV’s fault not TiVo’s) and you will only be able to get this programming on your Series 2 or TiVo’s soon to be released Series 3 box.

It’s important to note that this deal is non exclusive. Meaning look to see Brightcove’s programming on other platforms as well. More specifically, Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire sent me an email two weeks ago saying that when their paid content and downloads ship in early summer that they would have support for Microsoft’s Media Center platform, ViiV and portable devices.

The difference though is that the offerings on Media Center, etc. would only be tied to Brightcove’s paid download offerings.

With the TiVo deal by contrast it would appear that most of the Brightcove programming initially will be free but supported by advertising. I’m not exactly sure how this will work as central to TiVo’s technology is the ability to zap ads but we will have to see on this.

TiVo has expressed interest in the past with bolstering its internet TV offerings. Already TiVo has Rocket Boom and podcasts available via the Series 2 unit as well as recent experimenting with CNET downloads.

In a story posted here when Bloomberg interviewed TiVo CEO Tom Rogers, in February, Rogers said, “video via the web is begging to redefine the frontiers of television,”

“Our view is that its not real television until you can get it on your TV.”

Well it looks like Brightcove’s Internet TV may very soon be “real TV” in Rogers’world.

I interviewed Jeremy Allaire for thomashawk.com and Engadget a little over a year ago. In the interview we talked about two areas that I think hold special promise for Internet Broadcasters.

The first has to do with the vast library of programming that is presently available but locked up in studio archives. It is expensive to broadcast something via cable and satellite. It is much cheaper to broadcast something via the internet. Already we have seen most of the major studios begin making content available via the Web. Jeremy addressed this opportunity in our interview saying, “there’s 31 million hours of original video programming produced each year and the amount of that that’s easily accessible to the consumer is virtually nothing. It’s tiny. And so there’s clearly a massive amount even in the mainstream of what’s distributed today that can be unlocked and there’s an enormous amount of value to be unlocked there.”

The other major opportunity that I see for a service like Brightcove is to become a platform for the most long tailish of the long tail content particularly in the non profit realm. Little League games, high school football games, church services, city council meetings, etc. All available on demand. For alumni to be able to watch their high school football game half a world away would truly be something.

And Brightcove will be pursuing this type of micro content as well. From their website:

“If your school, non-profit, or community organization is producing video content—whether it’s a re-broadcast of a community meeting, a Sunday school lesson, or a Friday night high-school football game—Internet TV gives you a way to make that content easily accessible to a wide group of people.

With Brightcove you can build Internet TV solutions that are specifically designed to meet your non-profit community and education objectives.”

Although I would not expect to see Brightcove turn into a Google Video or YouTube free for all, I do think that you will continue to see some pretty interesting selections from them from the best of what the long tail has to offer.

This agreement (as well as the one with Microsoft and the other platforms that Brightcove is most certainly pursuing — iTunes anyone?) makes huge sense and represents another step forward as content owners find that they can bypass the traditional content gatekeepers (studios, broadcast cable and satellite).

This type of advancement will continue to build a democratization of content available for people to consume and makes the super important jump from the internet to the living room. Congratulations to both TiVo and Brightcove.

The challenge still for me for both companies is to now figure out how to get all this interesting content to me in high definition, the way that I want to consume it most. I’m not sure that we are here yet but some players are doing some interesting things with BitTorrent and other delivery methods and hopefully HDTV microcontent delivery will be a part of this exciting new direction of TV shortly.