Content Sharing: Napster comes to TV

The other feature of this new technology is more related to the Napster phenomenon. Once a program is recorded, it is stored in a file on your computer. Not only can you watch it again, you can also burn it to a CD/DVD to share with a friend. Taking this a step further, with some simple compression technology, you can make it available for download on the internet.

It is thanks to people overseas doing the compression and sharing thing that you can download entire seasons of the Simpsons, 24, Lost or other popular programs months before they've screened locally. With climatic and "ratings" seasons the opposite in Australia to the US, the advantage this offers passionate fans is immense - and is actually a major force driving broadband take-up - while the threats to the value of first run content on domestic TV are significant and growing.

Another aspect of the Media Center experience that is shaking up the media is that watching video content from the internet actually feels like TV. Previously, if you watched downloaded content, it would be on your PC. Sitting at a computer still feels like work to a lot of us, up close to the screen, in a desk chair, and with a mouse and keyboard; not really recreational entertainment. Media Center, on the other hand, allows you to watch online content - videos and movies you download (legally or otherwise) - from the comfort of your lounge, in full screen with surround sound, for a TV like entertainment experience, but with the benefits of real-time interactivity.

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