September 25, 2007

Ad-supported streaming is absolutely the future

streamingtvshows.jpeg US television networks believe they have found the business model needed to profit in the digital age – streaming their hit shows over the internet for free, with embedded ads, as opposed to selling them to consumers as digital downloads - which is bad news for Joost, Babelgum, iTunes and other pay-for-downloading services. The FT reports via CrunchGear.

"Many TV executives are confident that putting programmes online will build greater awareness among consumers and increase audiences. The networks have also been encouraged by advertisers, who are rapidly shifting their budgets to the internet to reach young consumers.

According to Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive: “Ad-supported streaming is absolutely the future".

The networks are hoping that streaming online for free will increase consumption by allowing viewers to catch episodes they might have missed, and lessen the demand for pirated versions of products. "

But streaming from the the Networks sites doesn't work for European viewers, as a computer's ISP number is identified as being based geographically outside the US. A message appears with "Sorry, for US viewers only".

So watching TV on video sharing websites is immensely popular, offering the latest episodes in streaming for free. Non US residents can keep up with the US by watching the season premiers or pilots of "Gossip Girl", "Pushing Daisies", "Bionic Woman", "Chuck", "Private Practice", and the newest season of "Prison Break", "Weeds", "Heroes"... a day or two after their broadcast in the US.

TV fans don't want to wait for their European channels to distribute their favorite series - a year after the US. They want to watch them as soon as they are released. Maybe Europeans/Asians would be willing to pay-per-view, if such an offering was available, instead of watching pirated free versions.

French network TFI will be launching today, September 25, on TF1Vision, the latest episodes of Heroes, 24 hours after it's US broadcast, in a trial pay per view video on demand offering, in streaming and will cost euro 1.99 or $2.80.

It will be interesting to see if it's successful.

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