All eyes are on the Venice Project beta test these days - but it's not the only P2P TV platform that's slowly coming out of stealth mode.

Tape It Off The Internet (TIOTI) just expaneded their beta test this week, inviting 10.000 lucky TV junkies who signed up for beta testing earlier. P2P Blog got invited as well, and here are some first impressions ...

The basics

First of all, what is TIOTI all about? In their own words:

"At TIOTI we keep tabs on loads of download sources across the interweb and glue that together with TV guide and episode data. Filter all that through a list of your favourites and we can keep you notified of when a new episode becomes available somewhere."

TIOTI

Still sounds pretty abstract? Well, then just think of TIOTI as a social networking community for TV addicts combined with an aggregator for TV Torrent links and topped off with a load of cutting edge design and Ajax magic. It's as if your Tivo joined Myspace - and one of his first friends wasn't Tom, but The Pirate Bay.

Finding content


Searching for shows usually gets you an overview of the seasons that have aired so far. Once you dig into those, you get an episode guide that offers you short descriptions and discussion forums for each episode. TIOTI also shows the "number of available downloads" per episode - this is essentially the number of Torrents that TIOTI found on websites like The Pirate Bay or Mininova.

Each download shows the number of available seeds and leechers, and clicking on a download link leads you to the item page on the respective bittorrent website.

TIOTI

Downloading gets much easier once you declare shows your favourites. TIOTI keeps track of new episodes for you and automatically displays them on your login front page. Clicking on those episodes opens an Ajax overlay window that displays only a few verified Torrent download links.

TIOTI

And in this case, the actual torrent files are linked, so another click basically starts up your Bittorrent client and begins the download process.

Organizing content

Some users of bittorrent community websites might ask by now: Okay, so what? Links to Torrents - what's new about that? And you're right - TIOTI wasn't very spectacular if it only was another aggregator for P2P content. One feature that makes it stick out is the way in which it makes organizing content easier.

TIOTI

The favourite list is only one example for this. TIOTI is especially great for people who want to keep track of shows in it's entirety. Did I really watch all the Weeds epsisodes this season? Is the show that is airing tonight new or a rerun? With TIOTI, you can easily keep track of the episodes you've already seen by marking them as watched. Filtering doesn't get much easier than that.

The social aspect


TIOTI has learned a lot from social networks and Web 2.0 user generated content sites. The plaform offers tagging, the complete TV guide is editable like a Wiki, and your friends are quite literally always in the picture.

TIOTI tells you about the favourite shows of your friends and recommends new content to you based on your friends general taste. The site even utilizes degrees of seperation, a concept that has been a little bit neglected in the Post-Friendster world.

TIOTI

TIOTI also offers groups to chat about TV shows, but so far this feature doesn't really seem to attract too much traction - maybe because discovering new groups isn't too easy. Some other features, like the possibility to publish Top 10 lists, don't seem to be activated just yet.

Where is this going?

TIOTI already looks great as it is, but it will likely get much more useful once its community gets bigger. The legal aspect of the platform still reamains a little bit muddy tho. The TIOTI makers apparently consider themselves safe because they don't actually operate a tracker.

This is what site cofounder Paul Cleghorn had to say regarding copyright issues in an interview with Techcrunch UK:

"We are being as careful as possible. We are based in the US and signed up the DMC safe harbour agreement and we donít host any of the BitTorrent streams, just point to them. We are two steps removed from the torrent."

We'll see how that works out. Cleghorn told Techcrunch that his site will offer other ways to get video content as well. TIOTI is already linking to Amazon and ABC.com, and they seem to be working on the integration of download retailers like iTunes and Amazon Unboxed.

I can see this work if they keep it modular - just offer me my shows the way I prefer them. Personally I'd love to see a Tivo integration. Remotely programming your Tivo via TIOTI seems like so much more fun than the Tivo.com or the Yahoo.com channel guide.

Why? Maybe because it's not a channel guide. Other online TV destinations stick to channels and timelines and schedules - even if it's about downloads and Tivo subscriptions. TIOTI replaces all that with shows and community - and that's what's so great about this site.

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