(Another) New service offers streaming US OTA broadcasters

FilmOn LogoLast week, ivi.tv stirred up a minor media storm by publicly launching an application for streaming a couple dozen Seattle and New York over-the-air (OTA) broadcast channels (and a few others), then asking a court to declare that it is playing correctly by the copyright rules. Now it’s time for Round 2.

This week, FilmOn.com took a different approach. It also announced that it’s available to the full public, rather than just a beta group. It requires a different application for users to watch streamed channels, including six Los Angeles OTA broadcasters. But FilmOn, which says it’s been in beta for about a year, makes no special claim of staying within the rules, although you’d hope that it’s legal.

FilmOn offers those six, plus a collection of minor cable channels, for $9.95/month, which is about twice ivi’s current price. FilmOn also offers an add-on pack of Playboy TV and several “FilthOn” channels for an additional $5/month.

Unlike ivi’s peer-to-peer application, FilmOn’s app did not make my Windows firewall bark, so it might not be p2p-based. (I allowed the firewall to block outgoing traffic, but ivi still runs okay.) You can use the FilmOn app for about a minute before it asks for a subscription login.

Maybe I hit it at a bad time, but this morning, the supposed NBC affiliate feed showed its weather channel, and CBS was a black screen. Both recovered this afternoon, but unless I was looking for a cheap Playboy TV subscription, I think two sets of broadcasters for half the cost makes ivi a better choice. Assuming that both survive for any serious length of time.

Update: Broadcasting & Cable’s John Eggerton tells me that the broadcasters have filed a counter-suit against ivi.tv in New York. But for now, both services are still streaming.