Site Launches Online TV for Couch Potatoes

TidalTV broadcasts channels of free, ad-supported commercial shows for old-style surfing.

By SHARE

TidalTV wants to resurrect the couch potato in all of us. The latest site to launch free commercial television on the Web, TidalTV is taking dead aim at those tired of searching, seeking, and deciding what to watch on competing sites like Joost and Hulu.

When you first visit TidalTV, the site offers up a cablelike grid. Those are shows playing in linear fashion like good ole' TV being broadcast to the on-couch masses. Using an onscreen "remote," you can slip through ongoing shows in a way that's reminiscent of surfing digital or analog cable.

The selection is impressive for a start-up, with about 20 channels of fare from the likes of HGTV, CBS, National Geographic, DIY Network, and Food Network. The choices include a heavy dose of news in channels from the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, MSNBC, and others.

For those feeling less passive, everything on the grid is also available on demand. You can rewind to a show's beginning or skip ahead and start playing one scheduled to broadcast later, or even earlier. You can also access shows from an on-demand guide, as well as a collection of clips and short videos.

The commercial breaks are shorter and fewer than on conventional over-the-air or cable channels. The video looks good enough on a PC screen and requires no software download to watch. TidalTV notes that this early launch is just a beta test.

We saw no movies listed, and this site—unlike Hulu—doesn't purport to offer high-definition clips. But for those willing to watch with a keyboard and mouse, TidalTV offers a new choice in TV, and one where vegging out is encouraged.