One of my biggest gripes at the moment is how hard it is to find and grab television shows on the Internet.
First, it often happens that we see an interesting documentary or show which we didn't record but would like to share with someone. Usually we would even be happy to pay (yes PAY!) for a copy we can send home. But have you ever tried to buy a one-off doc from the BBC or Channel 4? Virtually impossible. Their online shops only carry a tiny fraction of their TV output in DVD format. Usually you can Google your way to the original production company and, if you're lucky, you might be able to send them an email and request to buy the show. Talk about leaving money on the table -- the channels could stock every original, one-off programme for sale immediately after it has aired and make a good incremental buck for little effort.
Second, we are fed up with relying on the incomprehensible scheduling strategies for imported US TV series. You manage to record & watch all of Season 5 of the Sopranos and then it disappears for 7 months. Suddenly it's back on but -- no, wait! -- it's a re-run of season 4! By the time you've realised that Season 6 is on E4 at 2am, you've missed the all-important opener. Does anyone know when Six Feet Under is coming back and on which channel? Preferably without the little sign language person in the corner? Didn't think so....
Aargh...there must be a better way!
Recently someone told me about one of those great web ideas which I wish I'd had first so I could quit my dayjob and risk it all for dot-com glory: TIOTI - Tape It Off The Internet. TIOTI is a directory of television shows available on the Internet, whether it's through a legal distributor like iTunes or Amazon unBox as well as illegal BitTorrent streams. TIOTI does not provide the video stream themselves, they only keep track of where you can find it, how good it is and how you can get your hands on it. It's like your Tivo programming guide, but with the whole world's television behind, not just the next 7 days.
The service is currently in private beta so you'll have to beg for an invitation to try it out. I think the basic idea is pretty good, and the founders are adding some nice web two-dot-oh features like tagging and sharing. Once the industry figures out its charging model, these guys can take a cut for delivering leads to the legal distributors and content sites like IMDB. I wish them the best of luck.