AOL to Offer TV Show Reruns for Free

Posted on November 14, 2005

The Washington Post reports on an interesting new venture: AOL will make reruns of popular TV shows available online for free to its members who have high speed connections.
America Online Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. are planning to put thousands of episodes of once-popular television shows like "Welcome Back Kotter" and "Chico and the Man" on the AOL.com Web site, where high-speed Internet users can view them for free. The new In2TV service is set to launch in January and will include episodes of more than 100 shows. America Online Inc. is trying to find ways to keep customers coming back to its Internet community while parent company Time Warner Inc. seeks ways to expand its Internet empire.

Company officials, scheduled to announce the service today, said the shows will be available on demand, meaning computer users who search six new Web-based television channels on AOL.com will be able to choose when they watch the shows and which episodes to view. The companies, both part of media giant Time Warner Inc., will profit by sharing revenue from advertising, including banner ads and four 15-second streaming video ads per 30-minute episode.

In an interview, Kevin Conroy, executive vice president of Dulles-based AOL's media networks division, said this has the potential to increase traffic on America Online's network of Web sites, which includes MovieFone, Mapquest and AOL's instant messaging service, AIM. AOL has about 112 million users monthly on those sites, and its AIM network can be used with the television broadcasts to enable computer users in different places to watch shows together.

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The announcement comes amid a blizzard of new initiatives involving television and the Internet that have been unveiled recently. Major television networks plan to offer episodes of certain popular series, as well as nightly news broadcasts, on the Internet whenever computer users want to watch them, and Apple Computer Inc. is rolling out a new array of television content for mobile iPod users.
This really is the beginning of the media integration that experts have been talking about for years. Television and the Internet are moving closer together. OK, it's difficult to get too excited about watching Chico and the Man reruns, but hey, it's a start.

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