Akimbo Offers HD On-Demand
In terms of required hardware Akimbo's on-demand product offering is currently available in two ways: purchasing the Akimbo Player set-top box (currently available for $69.99), or a PC running the Windows XP Media Center Edition, or a "Media Center Extender" like an Xbox. Connect either the Player or a Media Center PC or Extender to a high-speed Internet link (hard-wired or on a wireless network) and to a display and you're ready for Akimbo. The Akimbo player has only composite and s-video outputs, so the HD option will only work on PCs or Extenders with HD-compatible outputs.
The basic Akimbo Service Subscription is $9.99 per month, and some programming is offered for free as part of this "basic" package, not unlike a basic cable TV subscription. Premium Programming, which can be individual on-demand programs or running channels of programs, are also available for purchase. There are currently over 100 channels and over 8,000 programs available through akimbo, comprised of varied programs such as sports, full-length feature and documentary films, travel shows, music videos, TV series and more. Some of Akimbo's channels are those already familiar to satellite and cable subscribers- A&E, Animal Planet Discovery Channel, CNN, History Channel, etc..
Akimbo's Premium Programming can be purchased and experienced in a variety of ways. On a given "channel" users can subscribe to the channel for a monthly fee, typically $6.99-$9.99 per month, or view individual programs from that channel for prices ranging from $0.99-$2.99 per viewing period. Viewing periods typically range from seven to 30 days, and some programming is unlimited. Once you choose a program it downloads to the hard drive in your computer or your Akimbo Player, and the user can play, pause, fast-forward or rewind, just as with a DVR.
There is now talk of cable and satellite offering their services in a similar, a la carte fashion, but you've got to hand it to Akimbo for being ahead of the curve. While the idea of interacting with a Windows PC to watch TV doesn't hold a lot of appeal for me personally, the idea of being able to customize my programming and scale it back financially to be more inline with my viewing habits certainly does. I probably don't watch more than a dozen channels regularly, and yet to get those few channels I really want costs me close to $100 per month from DirecTV. Once an a la carte programming model like this takes off, and the economy of scale is there, subscriptions per channel should become even more reasonably priced. In the meantime, Akimbo has it for you right over the Internet.