Cisco Gets Into HDTV Game

The long-promised potential of HDTV-over-the-Web could be delivered by an unlikely source. Rather than being worked out by your broadband service provider, your big-screen TV could get video through Cisco, which just invested a chunk of change in a Seattle-based startup called GridNetworks that now has $9.5 million to spend.

Cisco makes many of the set-top boxes and home wireless devices that are already in use in HDTV households. GridNetworks wants to make it easier for high-definition content producers and media owners to get their video onto TV screens via the Internet. The two companies together could do a better job at harnessing broadband connections than a typical cable company.

GridNetworks is testing its software system with major television networks, but won't say which ones. By using a type of peer-to-peer network, GridNetworks puts less of a strain on the tech capabilities of an individual video distributor, like an HD channel or show, which would normally have to use all its own servers and bandwidth to distribute the video.

We don't know about you, but we won't discriminate against where our HD content comes from. We're just glad to see entrepreneurs trying to bring high-def video over the Web to TV sets rather than to computers. -Rachel Rosmarin