Internet video has gone from being an over-hyped dot-com fad to something people actually watch.
Millions of people stream music videos, indie films and adult fare every month on their small-screen PC _ despite the obvious drawback of stuttering, hiccuping video.
The folks at Akimbo, a San Mateo, Calif., start-up, have been paying attention and offer a radical proposal: Watch Internet video on your television. In May, Akimbo is set to launch a service that uses an existing high-speed home Internet connection to deliver 200 hours of Internet video to a television set-top box, which will sell for $199.
The content is downloaded in real time, so a 90-minute movie would take roughly that long to download. The service is designed to mitigate the waiting game by asking subscribers to specify viewing preferences so content can be downloaded automatically overnight.
The Akimbo service is similar to cable and satellite services in that subscribers pay more for movies and other premium content. Prices range from $3 to $30 extra a month. The basic service costs $9.99 a month. Akimbo will offer about 10,000 hours of Internet video _ from CinemaNow's library of feature-length foreign films and documentaries to Digicast's broadcasts of Brazilian soccer and other specialty sports to sexually explicit content from Danni's Hard Drive.
The video is stored on the Akimbo player's 80-gigabyte hard drive to provide the best-quality video. An on-screen guide organizes the shows by category, and showcases the five to 10 hours of new shows that arrive nightly.
Akimbo founder Steve Shannon, whose previous start-up, iband, developed the popular Web-authoring tool Dreamweaver, sets modest goals for Akimbo. He expects it to initially appeal to niche audiences _ say, fans of India's Bollywood films. But he expects Akimbo to really catch on once he gains access to mainstream Hollywood content.