updated 04:40 pm EST, Wed March 4, 2009
A new device and matching service from a startup could offer serious competition in online video to larger rivals like Apple and Netflix. ZillionTV's self-titled service will give users a core networking device, known as the Z-bar, that would have no local video storage of its own and would instead stream movies and TV shows online. Rather than following the similarly network-based Roku's model of tying in existing services, however, ZillionTV will offer its own service and let users either buy or rent per title as well as download free, ad-subsidized versions. Viewers will also choose their preferences for ads to provide more relevant content.
The service would also evade retail and instead come as an option for Internet providers. As a result of this and the simplified box design, users would only have to pay an up-front $50 activation fee. ZillionTV would also potentially make additional revenue through selling physical goods as well as a Visa-backed rewards program for frequent viewers.
Formal service is set to start in the fall and already has deals with major content providers that include Fox, NBC, Universal and Warner.
Besides competing with traditional stores like iTunes, the service would also be a potential end-run around cable providers like Comcast and Time Warner, which have lately been attempting to defend their legacy TV service through plans to offer bundled online streaming as part of their cable packages. [via CNET News]