The long-awaited site Tape It Off The Internet (TIOTI) has opened its beta program. Originally I thought the site would be geared to help provide a one-stop-shop of links to TV show downloads on the net, which it kind of does, but the social aspect it adds could bring a new dimension to television viewing.
TIOTI hopes to be the number one resource related to everything and anything about TV shows. If it can get past the inevitable challenges it will face to providing links to pirated material, it might bring social interaction to what is usually a solitary experience.
Functionality-wise, the site has a blend of features resembling those from sites like Wikipedia, Amazon, del.icio.us, and MySpace, with a balanced take on information and social interaction. Let’s take a quick look around to see what TIOTI has to offer.
The first place you are taken to after signing in is your personal home page where you get a quick overview of your favorite TV shows. To the left is a list of the most recent episodes of your favorite TV shows, which like most of the site, can be syndicated via RSS. The middle and right column offer recommendations for TV shows you might like based on the shows you find interesting. Don’t remember which shows you added to your favorites? A little module on the bottom left lets you see at a glance as well as the favorite shows of your friends.
Search results include DVD recommendations via Amazon, and a useful history cache. Show description pages are editable like a wiki to provide tags, external links, and find other fans of the show.
A thoroughly organized episode guide is sorted by season and lets you see the original airing date, comments from other TIOTI users, a rating meter, and a check box so you can mark off if you have watched the episode. Did you miss the latest episode the other night? No sweat. TIOTI will point you to various places where you can download the episode; both legal like the iTunes music store and AOL TV and not so legal like BitTorrent links.
As a member of TIOTI you can join other groups of users who share similar interests in TV shows as you do. Since the site is still in an early beta stage there is not much of a community, but the potential for interaction and discussion is there. Each group has its own message board where group members can start discussions with other members of the community just like Facebook or MySpace groups. It’s easy to imagine that once the site opens up to the public there could be a lot of threads discussing the latest happenings of Lost or 24, adding a new dimension to the TV-watching experience.
Once the site matures it could become a powerful influence in determining the fate of a show as a community grows behind it. Executives who fear the BitTorrent downloads might find TIOTI useful as well offering instant feedback straight from the people who matter most – the viewers.