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Disney chief talks up Apple's iTV media hub

After playing with a pre-production unit, Walt Disney chief executive Robert Iger says Apple's forthcoming iTV streaming media hub is a "compelling" device that will change the way people enjoy and share their video content.

"The new device that Apple unveiled last week, which they are calling iTV, is pretty interesting," Iger told analysts at a Goldman Sachs conference on Tuesday.

"What I like about it, by the way, is it may be an opportunity to actually charge people for a PVR experience," he said. "In that, if they forgotten to set their TiVo device or their PVR —or they just have no plans to do it —but want to watch an episode they missed, they can go to iTunes, buy it for $1.99 [and send it to the] set top box of sorts, wirelessly, and watch it on the television."

Iger noted that in the past people could only watch their iTunes video content on an iPod or a PC. "So that's kinda interesting for us because we think that it's yet another opportunity to expand the pie, so to speak, and in this case to actually get paid for a PVR type of experience," he said.

When asked about his experience with an iTV prototype and its ease of use, Iger said, "It's a small box about the size of a novel —and not War and Peace by the way —it's relatively thin. It plugs into the television like any other peripheral would like a DVD device."

"It's wireless. It detects the presence of computers in your home," he added. "In a very simple way you designate the computer you want to feed it, and it wirelessly feeds whatever you've downloaded on iTunes, which includes videos, TV, music videos, movies or your entire iTunes music library, to your television set."

Apple's iTV

iTV can also stream content live through the box to a TV screen, Iger said. "Or it has a small hard drive on it so you can download what you put on the device —on your computer on your itunes —to the television set."

According to Iger, iTV is "relatively easy to use." He said it features a "simple kinda plug and play" interface and an "extremely easy remote control device."

Apple's iTV

"I found it to be pretty compelling," Iger said. "I sat in a living room setting. It felt like a game changer to me in many respects. As a content provider, that was very exciting."

Going forward, the Disney chief said he expects growth in the area of people watching television content on their home computers, especially as computer screens continue to increase in size. He also hinted that, sometime down the line, Apple may improve its iTV and digital media offerings to include HD content.

It features "DVD quality, not HD quality at this point," he said.