It's being billed as a competing service, or at least something comparable to what Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) has done with its downloadable episodes from Disney's (NYSE: DIS ) ABC, including Lost and Desperate Housewives.
In reality, this is just another indicator that the folks running the traditional media biz have no idea what consumers want and are woefully unprepared to provide it.
The hubbub today is about the hot new "on demand" services slated to come from Viacom's (NYSE: VIA ) CBS, General Electric's (NYSE: GE ) NBC, and their respective partners at Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA ) and DirecTV (NYSE: DTV ) . The networks announced that they will allow on-demand "download" of some of their favorite shows.
The DirecTV plan is closest to a true downloadable service, except that the media isn't popping into anyone's home in a form that can be readily transferred to a computer or portable device. Instead, it will just live on the hard drive in the subscribers' DirecTV box.
Now, compared with what Apple is doing on the video iPod, this is a tiny step, and a laughably inadequate one at that.
Let's review, CBS and NBC. I have a digital video recording box from my cable company. Or I have a VCR. Or a TiVo (Nasdaq: TiVO ) box. Or a cable line hooked into a TV tuner in my computer. This device already lets me record the shows I want and watch them later. Instead of doing this, I'm going to pay you a buck so that you record the show for me and then let me watch it later? But I can't take it anywhere? And I've got a limited time to watch it?
Sounds like a wasted buck to me. And a wasted opportunity for you, CBS and NBC.
It also sounds like Apple is the only hope for people who want to see media gadgets and consumption arise from the Stone Age of the 1990s. At least Jobs and Co. understand what viewers and listeners want, and how they want it. If only the dinosaurs in the media industry would work with them on getting it there.
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Seth Jaysonjust has to shake his head and say "Wow" sometimes. At the time of publication, he had no positions in any company mentioned here. View his stock holdings and Fool profilehere. TiVo is aMotley Fool Stock Advisorpick. Fool rules arehere.