Akimbo VOD Service to Be Launched in June

Rhett Pardon
SAN MATEO, Calif. – With a promise of programming you can’t find on cable, a small Silicon Valley startup has announced plans to deliver high-quality Internet video over broadband lines that will be patched to TVs.

Akimbo, which has been unveiling the Video-on-Demand (VOD) product this month, says it will start the service in June with alternative TV programming, including adult programs such as “Danni’s Hard Drive” and “Naked News,” as well as specialty programming like Ifilm and Billiard Club Network.

The service, claimed as "the nation's largest video-on-demand service for television," will offer more than 20,000 hours of programming in 50 categories to viewers for downloading in the comfort of their living rooms. Broadcast quality is the standard 30-frames-per-second model.

Instead of streaming video to the PC, the company will flash signals over high-speed cable, phone and other broadband lines to special TV set-top boxes in viewers' homes.

Akimbo officials hope to persuade high-band data providers help market and distribute services and program guides to broadband subscribers. Executives with the company are trying to round up broadband distribution deals.

Akimbo CEO Josh Goldman told Cable Datacom News that the VOD approach has "not been widely accepted" by consumers except for some adult, education and foreign-language programming.

"We're not targeting Internet video delivery to the PC," Goldman told Cable Datacom News. “Our business isn't in technology licensing; it's in content aggregation."

Goldman said the technology doesn't rely on video streaming, peer-to-peer network traffic or upstream bandwidth. He says the downloading process won't tie up your bandwidth, and once you've downloaded the program you have complete control over the video as if it were playing from a DVD.

Akimba is trying to get consumers will buy the set-top devices for $200 apiece and hook them into their broadband connections or home networks. The cost for service will be about $10 a month for a basic subscription, plus extra fees premium or pay-per-view programming.

Akimbo hopes to break the monopoly of cable providers with a simple rationale: Charge content producers less to get onto viewers' screens and viewers will have more content to choose from. Cable companies charge individual networks big fees to pipe on-demand programming to their customers.

Akimbo’s adult programming will feature “Danni’s Hard Drive,” an unscripted talk-show program that offers burlesque-style strip shows, and “Naked News,” the first Internet news program featuring nude newscasters.