ShareTV.org is my hot tip for the future of TV online.
For a long time I've been wishing that Tioti.com (Tape it off the internet) would get its act together, but it never so I gave up on it about 6 months ago. Since then I've noticed ShareTV and TV nanny move closer into the area which Tioti occupied. TV Nanny I don't kow enough about because I don't really like installing clients on my desktop machine and its only windows based.
Anyway, back to ShareTV. This bit torrent site focuses on yes you guessed it Television programmes. Its clean cut and lacks a style. This makes it super easy to navigate around its pages and discover new areas without feeling lost. Right from the start they included RSS feeds with direct links to the torrent files. Not only a global one but per programme and the last 30 shows feed. Both of these make it really simple to setup a TVRSS setup using Azureus, UTorrent Democracy or something else. Another key feature of ShareTV is it only selects one torrent of each episode of the programme. Aka you don't have to choose which version of the programme you want to download. This might sound like a disadvantage for those who really like downloading those 1gig 720p HD versions of Heroes but for the rest of us its fine. I'm sure in the near future they will build feeds with all HD episodes which can be used.
ShareTV also indexes currently about 100+ shows including UK shows like Jekyll and Doctor Who (which I'm currently missing due to be in Toronto). They rip the details for each show from TV.com so you can get the full details about a show before downloading it. Recently they have included previews so you can get a idea about a show using a streaming flash player in the page. This is being extended by it would seem them watching links in del.icio.us and Youtube pointing to episodes, so you can actually watch the whole show there in your browser if you choose to. I don't know how successful this will be but thats not the most interesting part.
Recently if you log into ShareTV you can do a whole bunch of new stuff. Voting for a show is new and interesting because you are able to gage per show what people thought of the show. You can vote either a thumbs up or thumbs down. Less interesting is the fact you can add comments to each episode. Tv.com has the same thing, so the duplication isn't that welcomed. Now its possible to add your favorite shows to a personal list and keep a track of just those. I didn't notice a RSS feed for them yet but I'm sure thats coming soon. Another nice thing ShareTV does is a calendar view of TV shows like a 9 day TV listings, But it looks possible that this can be applied the shows you favorite too. Meaning you get a personalised TV listing guide.
So most of this is exactly what Tioti does but Tioti was a mess.for things like picking torrents. Whats missing from ShareTV is the social aspect. Now I have my personal schedule or TV listing of my shows. I want to share this with other ShareTV friends or buddies. I also want to share my schedule with the world. You know stick it in my blog or even in my facebook profile. Once you ShareTV allows RSS, this will be easier but I still want some simple to share widget too.
Something which bugged me about Tioti was the show tracker, it required you to say I've seen this episode, I've seen that episode. But it was a pain. I suggest ShareTV use that voting feature to assume people have also seen that episode at the same time. Ideally ShareTV would have a public API behind it but personalised RSS would be a start, so the feed would have up to date metadata about if you watched the episode or not. I was at one point thinking about using a iCal feed with the free/busy status switched if you've seen it or not but it seems over kill.
I forgot to add this to my first post. ShareTV now have a points system for your account. This level of participation is both playful and community building. Some of the core elements I would say for making the site more social.
You get points by participating in the site. The more points you have the higher priority you get when downloading off our tracker or streaming videos.
Action Points Given Create Account +10 points Rate Show +1 point per Place Comment +2 point per Upload new Torrent +3 points per** Submit new video clip +4 points per**
** You also get plus/minus points for each vote on the torrent or video you submit, so make sure you submit stuff other members would like
Ideally it would still be great if your bit torrent client or mediaplayer device could say if you've seen the episode – You could imagine something like Last.FM for TV (last broadcast) with plugins for the Xbox Media Centre, Windows Media Centre, Apple TV, Democracy, BBC iPlayer etc. But thats a long way off and seems the demand won't be there till we get over the whole downloading TV shows thing. I actually think shareTV would be a great place to try such a service but even if ShareTV could consume someone elses service that would be great.
I mean it would only take ShareTV a while to add some kind of distributed Digg like system through peoples personal desktop widget engines. Or they could create some simple application using Xul or Air (formally known as Adobe Apollo). Geez if there was a API again, I would try writing the other part myself.
These are the things Tioti promised but never quite delivered (or at least got over complex on). I don't want to be harsh to Tioti and Paul Pod (who I hope to meet in Edinburgh) but the illustrations of the features of Tioti were amazing and the result has been a big let down. ShareTV is closer to the vision of Tioti that it may actually know and it would be a shame if it went in a different direction now.