ZillionTV On-Demand Service Streaming To Your TV

We might not quite be at the point where we can watch whatever we want, when we want, but we're getting a little closer all the time. In addition to the plethora of sites that offer on-demand streaming content to our computers, such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon, new devices and services keep popping up that deliver Internet-based streaming of on-demand content to our television sets. The latest to join the likes of Roku and Vudu is a new service called ZillionTV.

Similar to Roku and Vudu, ZillionTV relies on a set-top box that attaches to your TV. The ZillionTV Device connects to your home router via a wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection. It requires a broadband connection that is at least 2.7Mbps or faster. ZillionTV claims that it will have 15,000 titles available by the end of this year from content providers including, "Disney, 20th Century Fox Television, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution."

While Roku and Vudu are essentially available to anyone who has a broadband Internet connection and who is willing to purchase a device, ZillionTV will not be quite as easy to get. Instead of making the device and service directly available to consumers, ZillionTV will only be available (at least initially) through Internet service providers (ISPs). ZillionTV has not made any formal announcements yet as to which ISPs it will partner with, other than to say:

"ZillionTV is currently exploring strategic partnerships with major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) of all types. The ZillionTV Service offers ISPs a significant value-add to their current mix of consumer offerings and enhances the attractiveness of their premium high-speed services."

The company is still a little hazy on the details of how much it will cost get a ZillionTV Device. The FAQ states that "the ZillionTV Device and motion-sensing remote are free to viewers;" while the press release that went out today states that "there is no costly hardware purchase required, as viewers only pay a nominal, one-time, initial service activation fee to receive the ZillionTV Device and innovative motion-sensing ZillionTV Remote control." The discrepancy is likely a result of the continuing discussions ZillionTV is having with the ISPs and how the ISPs plan on implementing the service.

Regardless, once a user has a working ZillionTV Device, the service is completely subscription-free. Revenue is generated from ZillionTV selling advertising slots--yes, like Hulu, ZillionTV will have commercials; although ZillionTV claims that "you'll spend less time watching advertisements than you would for similar ad-supported programming on a broadcast or cable network." Additionally, users will have the ability to select particular advertising categories that match their interests, so they will receive potentially "more personally relevant" targeted advertising.

Users will also have the option of watching some content without any advertising for an additional per-program fee. Some content will only be available as paid rentals or purchases. As the ZillionTV Device contains no internal storage, all content is streamed from ZillionTV, and purchased content is stored on the ZillionTV network.

Similar to the Vudu Box, the ZillionTV Device supports resolutions up to 1080p (the Roku Digital Video Player currently supports only up to 720p). The ZillionTV Device includes composite, component, S-Video, and HDMI video outputs. However, despite the hardware's high-definition capabilities, all of ZillionTV's content is currently in standard definition only; but ZillionTV's FAQ states that "high-definition resolution is expected to launch soon."

ZillionTV is currently in beta; those interested in being notified when ZillionTV becomes available in their area can sign up here. ZillionTV has not formally announced yet what its specific content will be, but an animation on the ZillionTV home page includes TV shows such as 30 Rock and Battlestar Galactica, and films such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Goodfellas. There is also no word yet on when or even if ZillionTV will officially launch--numerous Internet pundits are claiming that getting major ISPs to sign onto ZillionTV will be a monumental uphill battle and are advising potential customers not to hold their breath.