Disney is trying something new. During May and June they'll be offering some shows on their website, including Lost and Desperate Housewives. I can guarantee I won't watch the latter, but I might try out Lost. Well, actually I've kinda lost interest, but my wife really loves the show and once in a while misses it. A TiVo (or MythTV preferably) would be much better, of course.
Here's what they have to overcome. Right now you can download HDTV versions on P2P networks, with no commercials. They're not instant, but with enough seeders they're not too slow. These versions apparently are only 700x394 which is a widescreen version of standard TV quality. The tradeoff there is that the bandwidth is low enough to deliver in real time.
But speaking of that, they have to deliver the video without any jitter, and I mean none. One of those infamous "buffering..." messages that RealPlayer was known for, will be killer.
It has to Just Work(tm). They're using a Flash media player, so that should work pretty well I think. I'm sure they'll wrap it in all sorts of DRM, which will almost certainly lead to problems (and DRM is just plain wrong anyway).
They're not going to eliminate the P2P TV show swapping, but I hope they realize that's not supposed to be the goal. It's nice to see that they're finally waking up to the fact that people want media on their terms, not on the networks. Hopefully this leads to the next step which will actually be worth using.