AOL to launch free online TV channels showing vintage programming
LONDON – Time Warner's AOL will launch a free internet television service by early 2006 in a groundbreaking move to bring 3,400 hours of programming to viewers online.
The service, called In2TV, has taken two years to develop and is the first time a major TV studio has made primetime entertainment programmes available online at no charge.
In2TV will be supported by advertising and will feature 4,800 episodes spanning 100 series of Warner Bros-produced shows including primetime hits such as 'Wonder Woman', 'Welcome Back Kotter', 'Growing Pains' and 'Kung Fu'.
The internet channel will be divided into six channels: comedy; drama; animation; action; classic; and superhero/villain; with plans for two more channels.
The latest advance in digital media broadcasting looks like another nail in the coffin of traditional primetime network television, as consumers are given greater access to content beyond the TV set.
AOL, which merged with Time Warner in 2001, is said to be in talks with major providers to offer shows that are not owned by Time Warner. This will involve plans to add up to 14,000 episodes from the 300 series it has already cleared with rights holders.
The announcement comes a week after General Electric's NBC and Viacom-owned CBS revealed they will offer downloads of primetime TV shows, including as 'Law & Order', 'The Office', and 'Survivor', for 99 cents each.
ABC also revealed plans to make 'Desperate Housewives' and 'Lost' downloadable to iPods without ads for $1.99 a show and Yahoo! and TiVo launched a service that will allow TiVo owners to select Yahoo! web services online, with plans to also make programming available.
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