Green Grows the ivi?

Okay, what would you pay to get live streaming content from a collection of broadcast television stations? We’re talking about the same content that you could get for free over the air in a major metropolitan area, but that instead you can access over the Internet, no matter where you are. And even if you can’t get a good digital broadcast signal where you are.

What if I told you that the streaming system didn’t require buffering (though I’m not yet entirely clear on how that works without resulting in display problems), but instead just streams the content out directly to your computer?

Now, you may be asking yourself “isn’t this what cable is supposed to be all about?” You’re right that this is what cable was in the beginning, before it got bloated with all the different cable programming channels, from the free ones like Home Shopping Network and the CSPAN to the premium channels that have the shows that you really want to watch, like HBO and ESPN.

So what would you pay to access 25 different channels (currently from the New York City and Seattle markets)? How does $4.95 a month sound? (Of course, you’ll also have to pay for your broadband Internet connection, but you’ll have that anyway to get your email and surf the Web.) Yes, this is just a live streaming service — just like watching broadcast TV — but you can time-shift by adding the DVR feature for just another $.99 per month. (Apparently, the DVR cost is an introductory rate, and I don’t know what the “permanent” rate will be.)

Does this sound intriguing? It’s a new service called “ivi TV” and you can find it at www.ivi.tv. And you can even sign up for a free 30-day trial before you have to commit to paying for it.

I haven’t tried the service yet, but apparently it only offers standard definition resolution. The service apparently is prepared to offer high definition, but according to the company Web site, it does not appear that it offers that at this time.

So who would want this service? If you’re in a rural area and can get broadband but not over-the-air television broadcasts, this is a cheaper alternative to cable. Also people who really just want the basics and save money over a cable subscription might find this to be a worthwhile choice.

If you decide to use the 30-day free trial to see what ivi TV has to offer, write to me at alfred@hdtvprofessor.com and let me know what you find out,