I decided to jump into Internet TV in Media Center recently to see if any new content had been added. And what to my wondering eyes did appear but a full episode of Dexter. Showtime is providing the first episode of season five in it’s entirety to Media Center users. This is a great way to get people hooked on your content. Networks tend to do the same thing in iTunes and on their websites to drum up excitement for the new season. The problem comes up afterward.
Obviously this shows that Showtime and other Microsoft partners are able to easily push new, full featured and premium content into the Internet TV section of Media Center. The question becomes why aren’t they doing this all the time?
Having content piped directly into Media Center is something we’ve all wanted for a long time. Not just by using a TV tuner but by Microsoft improving and expanding Internet TV. Using an HTPC means you’re always connected so why not make use of that connection? The leg work for a limited partnership has already been done. Would it be that difficult to build a pay system into Media Center and complete the deal by allowing me to subscribe to this type of premium programming quickly and easily? I’d even be willing to go to an external website, create an account and log in within Media Center to accomplish this!
With the backend already built, it seems as though this would be an easy endeavor. Get partners, add them to the feed, backend, whatever and let it fly. There may be some extra things needed such as a built in pay structure or a central website people can visit to setup an account. Once it’s there though, you could easily select content from within Media Center and if you’re subscribed, start playback. If not, since you’ve already created an account with payment information, you could subscribe and then start playback. This seems like a perfect system and one that should be relatively easy to implement given the current Internet TV setup and Microsoft’s size.
In the end, Media Center is the perfect platform for receiving internet content. The UI is easy to navigate, looks good and is already built in to most PCs. With the right partnerships there’d be no reason to visit 10 different websites to find what you’re looking for. Microsoft has some partnerships already in place. Expand them. Get new ones. Make Internet TV a place I want to go not a tile I want to remove due to lack of content. Make money and let content providers make money. You’ve got PlayReady and Silverlight. Use them. The time and expense have already been spent on these platforms. Bring them together and let me kill off my cable connection completely.
Hopefully this is Microsoft’s intent. We can only hope as content providers such as Boxee and Hulu have quickly surpassed Redmond in getting on the streaming content bandwagon. Playing catch-up is always hard but the platform is there. Let’s start using it.