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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Akimbo & On-Demand Content

Akimbo delivers digital video over the Internet and into the Akimbo Player, a set-top box that connects to a TV. Like a personal video recorder, the Akimbo Player has a hard drive that can store at least 150 hours of content. The Akimbo service lets users download content on demand over a broadband connection. This is not streaming video: The content is stored on the Player's hard drive before you can watch it. With its on-demand Internet video player, Akimbo is testing the axiom, "If you build it, they will come." Akimbo has stepped up with a good device and service model. But for it to fly, content providers need to offer something better than classic movies, music videos, documentaries and independent films.
The video content comes in about 50 categories, such as animation, foreign language channels, classic movies and how-to videos. Popular channels include Turner Classic Movies, A&E, Cartoon Network, CNN, BBC (content separate from BBC America), the History Channel, National Geographic and IFilm (short film channel). Aside from free content, Akimbo offers premium programming, offered either as a rental (one-time charge) or as part of a channel membership (access to all premium content for a monthly fee). The Akimbo experience is a cross between streaming Internet video on a PC and on-demand content from a cable TV provider. As the Player is connected to a TV, the video quality is better than on streaming video for a PC. Yet the content is not as varied as cable TV on-demand offerings. Akimbo says it doesn't compete with on-demand cable programming, but it inevitably gets compared with it while it continues to make content partnership announcements, improving potential for new programming. End of the day, content will be the differentiator.

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