The NYT runs Akimbo set-top box. The device purports to offer video-on-demand, but it seems there’s no video to speak of, and few viewers demand the patchwork of restrictions on viewing or saving what there is.
Akimbo’s library is laughable. As Akimbo’s Web site puts it, the list includes AdvenTV, “the first on-
demand Turkish station in the U.S.”; Veg TV, “vegetarian cooking instruction”; and Skyworks, “helicopter flights over the most spectacular landscapes of Britain.”
[And] not only do you pay for the Akimbo box and its monthly $10 fee to get no-name shows, you also have to pay per show. And even then, the show you buy will erase itself after a month!
This is piracy paranoia run amok. It’s insane to think that anyone would pay so much for cheesy cable reruns and oddities like three-minute how-to videos for new mothers.
To make matters worse, the rental terms are different for every show. Some are free. (Akimbo says 40 percent are free, but that tally includes movie trailers, video blogs, two-minute CNN snippets and other free stuff from the Web.) The rest cost 50 cents to $5; pornographic movies are $10 (parental controls are available). Some stay on your hard drive forever, some self-destruct after 7 or 30 days, and some give you only a two-day window to watch.
To be fair, the fault is less Akimbo’s than the studios and TV networks, who’d prefer to wage Pyrrhic war against unauthorized downloading of their content than to offer a convenient, lawful alternative. They’d rather strangle TV tuners with the broadcast flag than see competitive, unfettered devices flourish. Thankfully, Rep. Barton seems to be pushing back for viewers’ rights.