November 13, 2005 10:25 PM PST

AOL says 'Welcome back' to old TV shows

America Online early next year will begin offering free access to popular vintage television shows through video-on-demand under an agreement with Warner Bros., another division of Time Warner.

The new In2TV broadband network service will include 15- and 30-second video advertisements that will be limited to a total of one to two minutes within each 30-minute episode, compared with eight minutes of ads on broadcast television, AOL said in a statement.

The service will be offered in a new DVD-quality video format called AOL Hi-Q that enables high resolution, full-screen viewing to any broadband user.

The on-demand deal, which involves about 300 shows including "Welcome Back Kotter," "Kung Fu" and "Growing Pains," will feature six channels ranging from comedy and drama to animation and science fiction. In2TV will also include interactive features such as games, quizzes, polls and trivia contests.

"This service will bring an unprecedented collection of popular TV series to a totally new platform, revolutionizing the distribution of television programming," Eric Frankel, president of Warner Bros. domestic cable distribution, said in a statement.

The move is the latest in a series of deals media companies have announced to offer alternative sources of television programming.

A week ago, NBC and CBS unveiled separate plans to make prime-time shows available commercial-free for 99 cents an episode.

In October, Disney said it would offer episodes of five popular television shows from ABC and Disney's cable network and some animated short films and music videos for $1.99 each for viewing on Apple Computer's iPod.

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No downloading?
I see no mention of being able to move the video from a computer to another device. Without this ability these free downloads from AOL are as lame as the 99 cent "evaporates after 7 days" shows NBC and CBS are offering.

Dear AOL, No one wants to watch TV on their computer regularly (other than a few geeks). Attention NBC/CBS, anyone owning the Tivo that is required to buy your shows doesn't need to buy them. Especially ones that disappear.

The Apple/ABC/Disney deal isn't perfect (the vid could be better, and more portable). But it appears they are the only ones who have half a clue.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
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Apparently no.
From what I gather these shows are "video-on-demand". Which means streaming media, the worst idea man has come up with. Apparently, these people think that you want to wait for the "Buffering" to complete (if it even does) and then watch the show in piecies while you wait for the next five seconds of episode to download. They have also apparently judged that no one uses dial-up anymore, on which it is next to impossible to watch streaming media.

This deal was set to fail. I just wish I could see the faces of the executives as they wonder why their latest venture failed. Here's a hint: try no streaming media next time!!
Posted by Sentinel (199 comments )
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I disagree. I think it will be successful.
This sudden emergence of video content on the internet is only the tip of the iceberg. Media companies are rushing to get conetent online because they know this is the next big thing and they don't want to miss out on the advertising dollars. Currently, internet content from the big networks is somewhat limited. ABC shows available only on iTunes, NBC only on DirectTV, and CBS only on some Comcast Cable, and now Warner Brothers on AOL. But the floodgates will open by 2006.

Don't forget that Windows Vista will have Media Center built in on many versions, which includes a TV-out. That will make it much easier for people to watch intenet content on their TV. Broadband has surpassed dial-up in number of customers, and the percentage will only keep growing.

Also, in the next year I think we will finally see the coming of age of digital media hubs that make it easy for us to share internet and digital content among various TVs, computers, and portable video devices in our homes. I'm hoping that Apple is developing one, because I think they would be the ones to do it right in order to bring these mainstream.
Posted by (61 comments )
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Paytv
I agree. The networks are just looking for a new revunue stream for the future. Their products arn't worth paying for now.
Posted by paulsecic (298 comments )
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