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The Real Web TV

Networks and broadcasters are beginning to look at the Web as a new way to get television programming to the masses.
November 14, 2005

For the last few years, I’ve been watching a blend of Web-created video programming, live streams from news outlets, and traditional television – all packaged together on my home computer. I like it that way because I can record and move media around in the way that I want to see it, which means I can go from an episode of Battlestar Galactica (the new one, not the old one) that I’ve recorded on my PC to a series of Strongbad cartoons at Homestarrunner.com. Heck, I’ve spent hours just flipping through the Reuters television news feeds. (And, yes, I wish I was kidding.)

In the grand scheme of my life today, media is media. Network television, web-created shows, or broadcaster feeds are all the same for me. They each have an equal amount of weight and importance – except I watch way more non-television content today than I ever have (a fact that networks haven’t overlooked as their overall audience share has continually dropped over the past decade).

Why is this important? Because AOL and TimeWarner announced a deal today that would give television – by virtue of making itself more accessible to people online and more like other forms of digital media – an Internet make-over.

The advertising-supported service, In2TV, will feature approximately 3,400 hours of programming from 4,800 episodes spanning 100 series of Warner Bros.-produced shows from the past in its first year in an exclusive deal.

This is simply the latest move from television networks looking for ways to reach a wider audience. When Sony’s Playstation Portable debuted, movie studios and TV broadcasters announced an array of programming available for the handheld gaming device.

For now, it seems that mostly what is going online are older television shows (those ‘classics’ that have been relegated to the vaults, never to be seen again until they show up on Nick at Night). Slowly, nightly newscasts and other weightier programming is also finding its way to the Web.

What will be interesting, particularly as corporations such as AOL and TimeWarner seek to monetize this new medium, is when bloggers and other netizens begin to find new ways to repurpose that content (some would say illegally) to enhance stories – or, particularly in times of crisis – to distribute that content.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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