TV This, That, and the Other Way

Viewers' TV revolution arguably started with TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) , which gave couch potatoes greater control over their visual media, and with the increasing popularity of digital video recorders in general. However, recent news suggests that the divide between Internet and TV content seems to be falling away fast.

Watching video on the Internet has gone from obscure to popular in the last year, but now it seems to be extending in the other direction, too. It's not just Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) Apple TV (previously known as iTV), which was announced today; the device allows people to stream video content stored on their computers for viewing on their television sets.

Indeed, Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) and Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) AOL built up some fanfare at the Consumer Electronics Show based on the same idea. An optional add-on module for the Sony Bravia flatscreen TV will allow certain Internet content to be viewed on the set.

The fanfare touts AOL Video programming, including vintage shows, user-generated content, and programming from Viacom (NYSE: VIA  ) , such as MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central. However, other content will be available on the Bravia using this add-on device, including Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) , Sony (a no-brainer there), and a company called Grouper that Sony purchased last year. (Grouper's interesting, because uses peer-to-peer, or P2P, file-sharing technology to deliver user-generated content.)

This is also part of AOL's new strategy (one of many circulating these days); moves like this one get its content in front of more people on more devices. That makes sense -- AOL may be talking up AOL Video with a televised ad campaign, for example, but when it comes to Internet video, lots of people turn first to Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) YouTube at this point in the game.

It also makes sense that companies are trying to get their foot in the door as content converges in the living room, and as consumers demand content where they want it, when they want it, and on whichever devices they desire. So the big news is probably less that Sony and AOL are making this move (although its eventual popularity with Bravia buyers will be worth watching), and more that these types of features will increasingly show up in electronics offerings.

Review 2006 for several companies mentioned in this story:

TiVo, Time Warner, and Yahoo! are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. To find out what other companies David and Tom Gardner have recommended in this market-beating newsletter, click here for a 30-day free trial.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article.


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