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Television Comes to the Web

With viewers being wrested away by other entertainment options, networks are streaming their shows on the Web.
October 3, 2006

My life has gotten extremely hectic since I left Technology Review in June. That saddens me for many reasons; but one huge drawback has been my inability to catch some of my favorite television shows. Unlike others, I refuse to lease a digital video recorder from the cable company, which means I am stuck arranging my schedule around prime time. More often, though, I find myself simply skipping television altogether.

I skipped those shows, that is, until the new season started–and I happily found that networks had released my favorite programming on the Web. There isn’t one place where you can go–sometimes the network websites carry the programming, sometimes social-networking sites, and sometimes iTunes–but it’s been well worth the trouble finding that programming.

A week before the season started, I watched the first 10 minutes of My Name is Earl on MySpace.com, a social-networking site. It wasn’t a perfect solution–I still had to wait to see the other 14 minutes–but it beat waiting. (Fox, which purchased MySpace.com, announced it would stream Justice, Bones, and Prison Break on the site.)

Then, I caught Aaron Sorkin’s new drama, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, on NBC’s website. I’m rarely home on Mondays, but the network offers viewers the entire show as a stream after it airs on TV. In fact, NBC’s website offers several shows–and recaps–for its prime-time lineup.

I’ve even gone so far as to sign up for *gasp* iTunes–just for television–so that I can download my favorite shows. I purchased the season pass for Law & Order: Criminal Intent, but I’ve decided to go week-to-week with The Office simply because I’m oftentimes home when that is on; but I’m sure I’ll end up purchasing the entire season of Battlestar Galactica.

Now, I still end up watching my programming on a laptop, which is fine with me. The full-screen capabilities are more than adequate–and I haven’t seen a reason to purchase the Microsoft Media Extender yet. However, with television functionality already here for PCs and on its way for Apple products, it won’t be long before the computer is the television.

Deep Dive

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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