Starting in May, Disney will conduct a two month trial of free streaming video of their popular TV shows.
They differ from the iTunes shows in that you can't save them onto your computer, or take them with you on your iPod–again, they're more webcast than download. They're also be in a file format (Flash 8) that isn't likely to be played back on a Windows Media Center PC or Apple's Front Row–READ: you're probably not going to be watching these on your TV screen, even if you have a computer hooked into your flat-screen. That's unfortunate, because unlike the iTunes downloads, these streams are slightly higher resolution: 500x282px or 700x394px. Unfortunately, neither are high definition.
The shows will be free, albeit with advertisements that cannot be skipped. I wonder what crafty web-engineers out there can skip the commercials without running afoul of the DMCA by using FECA's addition to USC Title 17, Sect. 110–new paragraph 11:
(11) the making imperceptible, by or at the direction of a member of a private household, of limited portions of audio or video content of a motion picture, during a performance in or transmitted to that household for private home viewing, from an authorized copy of the motion picture, or the creation or provision of a computer program or other technology that enables such making imperceptible and that is designed and marketed to be used, at the direction of a member of a private household, for such making imperceptible, if no fixed copy of the altered version of the motion picture is created by such computer program or other technology.
It sounds like this new service/product is targeted at the cubical TV viewer and that it's only streamed and formatted so as not to compete with the mobile and living room markets.
Will these TV streams be worthwhile for the average consumer? Will it satisfy downloaders of unauthorized downloads? Will viewers care that they can't skip commercials? We may know more after the two month trial.