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Internet Service to Put Classic TV on Home Computer

4335 Views 22 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  the_boxer
November 14, 2005


Looking for "The Fugitive?" Didn't get enough "Eight Is Enough?" Would you like to "Welcome Back, Kotter" one more time?

Warner Brothers is preparing a major new Internet service that will let fans watch full episodes from more than 100 old television series. The service, called In2TV, will be free, supported by advertising, and will start early next year. More than 4,800 episodes will be made available online in the first year.

The move will give Warner a way to reap new advertising revenue from a huge trove of old programming that is not widely syndicated.

Programs on In2TV will have one to two minutes of commercials for each half-hour episode, compared with eight minutes in a standard broadcast. The Internet commercials cannot be skipped.

America Online, which is making a broad push into Internet video, will distribute the service on its Web portal. Both it and Warner Brothers are Time Warner units. An enhanced version of the service will use peer-to-peer file-sharing technology to get the video data to viewers.

Warner, with 800 television programs in its library, says it is the largest TV syndicator. It wants to use the Internet to reach viewers rather than depend on the whims of cable networks and local TV stations, said Eric Frankel, the president of Warner Brothers' domestic cable distribution division.

"We looked at the rise of broadband on Internet and said, 'Let's try to be the first to create a network that opens a new window of distribution for us rather than having to go hat in hand to a USA or a Nick at Night or a TBS,' " Mr. Frankel said.

Warner's offering comes at a time when television producers and networks are exploring new ways to use digital technology to distribute programs.

Many of the recent moves include charging viewers for current programs. ABC has started selling episodes of some programs to download to Apple iPods for $1.99. And NBC and CBS announced last week that they would sell reruns of their top new shows for 99 cents an episode through video-on-demand services. CBS is working with Comcast and NBC with DirecTV.

(The CBS programs to be sold on Comcast include commercials, but viewers can skip them. The NBC programs on DirecTV and the ABC programs from Apple have no commercials.)

Of the media companies' new experiments, Peter Storck, president of the Points North Group, a research firm, remarked, "They are saying let's take the plunge, put the content out there, and figure out how to monetize it." Programs on In2TV will range from recently canceled series like "La Femme Nikita" to vintage shows like "Maverick" from the early 1960's . Other series that will be available include "Chico and the Man," "Wonder Woman" and "Babylon 5."

The company will offer a changing selection of several hundred episodes each month, rather than providing continuous access to all the episodes in a series, Mr. Frankel said, so as not to cannibalize potential DVD sales of old TV shows.

And in the future, when Warner negotiates with cable networks to syndicate popular programs, Mr. Frankel said, the price will be higher if the network wants it kept off the Internet.

For AOL, the In2TV deal is part of a broad strategy to create a range of video offerings to attract people to its free AOL.com portal. It already offers some video news and sports programs from CBS News, ABC and CNN.

At the same time, it is creating programming aimed at women and young people, including an online reality series called "The Biz," giving contestants the chance to become a music producer, in conjunction with the Warner Music Group (which is no longer owned by Time Warner).

Next month AOL will introduce TMZ, an entertainment news service, in a joint venture with another Warner Brothers division, Telepictures Productions. TMZ, named for the 30-mile zone around Hollywood that is mentioned in some film-union contracts, will mix breaking entertainment news and gossip with a database of information and video about celebrities. It will be run by Harvey Levin, former executive producer of " Celebrity Justice," a syndicated program about the legal woes of entertainment figures, which Telepictures canceled last spring.

TMZ and most of AOL's programming effort, so far, have been built largely around short video segments, reflecting the conventional view that Internet users are less likely to want to watch full-length programs on a computer screen.

Yet a recent survey by the Points North Group of 1,098 Internet users found that 28 percent said they wanted to watch regular television shows on their PC's or laptops, Mr. Storck said.

Full-length TV shows on the In2TV service responds to that demand, particularly as more people hook their computers up to their television sets.

AOL will offer a version of the service meant to be watched on a television set connected to a Windows Media Center PC, and it is exploring a similar arrangement to link the Internet programming to television through TiVo video recorders.

For those who want to watch on a big screen, AOL is introducing optional technology that it says will produce a DVD-quality picture. Even with a broadband connection, most Internet video looks grainy at full width on a computer monitor, let alone a big TV set. The new option, called AOL Hi-Q, will require the downloading once of special software, and the program may not start for several minutes, depending on the speed of the users' connection.

There is a catch. To use the technology, viewers will have to agree to participate in a special file-sharing network. This approach helps AOL reduce the cost of distributing-high quality video files by passing portions of the video files from one user's computer to another. AOL says that since it will control the network, it can protect users from the sorts of viruses and spyware that infect other peer-to-peer systems.

AOL is using file-sharing technology from Kontiki, a Silicon Valley company providing a similar system to the ambitious Internet video program of the BBC.

Warner is also adding shorter segments and interactive features for users who do not want to watch entire episodes. Each month, there will be a series of one- or two-minute excerpts drawn from the full-length episodes, featuring funny scenes or segments showing famous actors when they played bit parts on TV. (Brad Pitt, for one, had a small role on "Growing Pains" in 1987.) These excerpts can be sent to friends by e-mail or instant message, and will eventually be offered on mobile phones.

Other programs will be accompanied by interactive features that can be displayed side by side with the video, like trivia quizzes and video games related to the shows. One feature, to accompany "Welcome Back, Kotter," will allow users to upload a picture of themselves (or a friend) and superimpose 1970's hair styles and fashion, and send the pictures by e-mail to friends or use as icons on AOL's instant-message system.

"This is great goofy stuff that fans are going to love," Mr. Storck of the Points North Group said.
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I for one, am thrilled by this. This is a huge, albiet tiny first step. Huge in that it's legitamate, and tiny in that only old shows are available.
unless, they have route 66, it isn't worth my time!!
4800 episodes in the first year could be shown on a new cable channel without editing the crap out of them to get 40 commercials an hour in there and still leave room for other shows. While the "on-demandness" of being available over the internet is nice and worthy of experimenting with, I think they're selling these series short to think there was no interest in airing them the old-fashioned way... not that existing broadcast outlets just didn't seek them in syndication but that they didn't pursue developing their own nostaligic cable channel of some sort.

I also get the impression many of these series never even got the requisite DVD release, though if the quality is low enough online there might be cases where this creates interest.
I'd be interested to see how this goes. Particular success of older shows that haven't been on the air might be enough to get Nick, TV Land, etc to buy the broadcast rights again. I'd also like to see them get enough leverage to air them uncut.
The whole point is they do not want to make syndication deals with cable companies - but just sell the advertising directly for this end run around the cable/sat delivery systems.
ive been waiting for "chico and the man" to make a comeback...
Test said:
ive been waiting for "chico and the man" to make a comeback...
Wasn't that on TV Land in the last year or so?
I think this is a step in the right direction.
Test said:
ive been waiting for "chico and the man" to make a comeback...
Now I can't get the theme song out of my head.........thanks for that

"....the man he aint so hard to understand"

Will have to see exactly how the execution is, but this sounds like it could be a good thing
This may be good. I'd love to see a listing of what shows would be available. I'm afraid it would be a bunch of crap I'd have no interest in (Chico and man). Even if Barney Miller was available, that's so dated now.

I'd love to see the Bob Newhart SHow available, but doubt it. I can't really think of any 70's shows I'd have much interest in.

"Sigmund and some sea monsters"? <shudder>
Bob_Newhart said:
This may be good. I'd love to see a listing of what shows would be available.
List of In2TV Series at Launch*

Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
Babylon 5
Chico and the Man
Dark Justice
Eight is Enough
F Troop
The F.B.I.
Falcon Crest
Freddy's Nightmares
The Fugitive
Growing Pains
Hangin' with Mr. Cooper
Head of the Class
Kung Fu
La Femme Nikita
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
The New Adventures of Batman
Perfect Strangers
Pinky and the Brain
Scarecrow and Mrs. King
Spenser: For Hire
Welcome Back, Kotter
Wonder Woman

*More series will be added to this list over the course of the year.

The six channels, and a sampling of the shows fans can find within them, follow.

LOL TV: Laugh out Loud with this channel that will feature Welcome Back Kotter, the Emmy-nominated series that launched the career of John Travolta and outperformed The Mary Tyler Moore Show and 60 Minutes. Even its theme song by John Sebastian climbed to #1. Fans will also find Chico and the Man, where Freddie Prinze broke new ground for Latinos on TV alongside Emmy-winner Jack Albertson, as well as Perfect Strangers, featuring the foibles of cousins Balki and Larry, in a show that helped to establish ABC's "TGIF" lineup and ranked #1 in every time period it aired. Plus, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, an ABC hit which ranked #1 in its time period on Tuesdays and again when it moved to Fridays, as well as Head of the Class, which debuted on ABC as a Top 10 sitcom.

Dramarama TV: This channel will showcase great dramatic series ranging from the five-time Emmy-nominated Sisters, starring Emmy winner Sela Ward, to Falcon Crest, one of primetime's juiciest soaps that was a Friday night staple on CBS for nine seasons. Drama fans will also find Scarecrow and Mrs. King, the Golden Globe-nominated and Emmy-winning series co-starring Bruce Boxleitner and former "Angel" Kate Jackson, along with TV icon Robert Urich in Spenser: For Hire, which was so beloved by fans that it spun off four made-for-cable movies. Plus, Eight is Enough, the Emmy-nominated series starring Dick Van Patten that ranked in ABC's Top 10 for season after successful season.

Toontopia TV: Top-rated animation comes to life with Beetlejuice, the animated adaptation of Tim Burton's hit movie that ran successfully for multiple seasons on both Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. The channel will also feature animated favorites such as Daytime Emmy-winning Freakazoid, as well as fellow Daytime Emmy-winners Pinky and the Brain and Histeria!, both executive produced by the legendary Steven Spielberg. Plus, there's The New Adventures of Batman, featuring the voices of Adam West and Burt Ward from the live action series. Heroes and Horrors TV: Sci-fi and horror fans will be riveted by this channel that includes Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, which was a Top 10 program on ABC for three seasons, starring Dean Cain and Golden Globe-winner Teri Hatcher of Desperate Housewives, along with every episode of Babylon 5, the Emmy Award-winning syndicated science fiction series so popular that stations aired it twice a day. Plus, there's Freddy's Nightmares hosted by the maniacal Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), the star of the hit film series "Nightmare on Elm Street," and the adventures of Wonder Woman starring Lynda Carter, which was consistently a Top 20 series across two networks, airing on both ABC and then on CBS. Plus V, where resistance fighters must stop "Visitors" from invading Earth.

Rush TV: This channel will feature action-adventure favorites such as La Femme Nikita, which enjoyed an enormous cult following as witnessed by over 300 websites dedicated to its star, Peta Wilson, and the show. Fans will also find the Emmy-winning and Golden Globe-nominated series Kung Fu, which dominated Thursday nights in its broadcast run catapulting ABC to #1 in the time period with key demos. In addition, fans can re-discover The Adventures of Brisco County Jr, a fan favorite that built its time period on FOX and went on to be a Top 10 series on TNT for three consecutive seasons. Other series in Rush TV will include 2001's The Fugitive, Dark Justice and more.

Vintage TV: This channel will feature Growing Pains, the Emmy-winning sitcom that lasted an incredible seven seasons, turning Kirk Cameron into a teenage heartthrob (receiving 10,000 fan letters a month) and featuring a young actor by the name of Leonardo DiCaprio. Plus, there's Alice, which ranks among an elite group of sitcoms to air for nine successful seasons. Honored with multiple Golden Globe Awards, it consistently ranked as a Top 10 network series on broadcast and attracted a broad audience of both men and women. Plus, fans will also find F Troop, which became a top rated hit on [email protected] after a successful run on ABC, as well as Emmy-nominated Maverick, which was voted "The Best Western of the 1950s" by TV Guide. Other Vintage TV series will include fan favorite The F.B.I.

Source: AOL Press Center

According to In2TV website , this service will begin January 2006.

dswallow said:
AOL will offer a version of the service meant to be watched on a television set connected to a Windows Media Center PC, and it is exploring a similar arrangement to link the Internet programming to television through TiVo video recorders.
Has anyone heard anymore about this being made available through TiVo?
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It'd be great if it were made available DIRECTLY through TiVo...

Otherwise, what about a PC to TiVo transfer? Well, that would take lots of extra time. I guess either could be done overnight...
Wow! Bab 5 is gonna be on there? I've always wanted to check out the show...now I have no excuse!
hey can tivo get any classic channels like classic nick or something because i don't know that much about it thank you
the_boxer said:
hey can tivo get any classic channels like classic nick or something because i don't know that much about it thank you
TiVo doesn't get any channels by itself. It works with whatever programming you get from cable, satellite, or antenna.
o because i wonder what can i get that has alot of the older shows or classic's on thier you have any idea
the_boxer said:
o because i wonder what can i get that has alot of the older shows or classic's on thier you have any idea
TV Land is about the only network dedicated to "nostalgia" programming, and you can see if your cable or satellite provider carries it. You might also find some independent local stations may carry some of that older, classic programming.

Beyond that point, just like with "oldies" radio, broadcasters find that it doesn't make them money, so they're staying away from it. There aren't too many radio stations that carry anything from before, say, 1965 anymore... the same holds true with TV as well. There's lots of stuff on from the 80's... but very little from before that point, and next to nothing older than the 70's.
Ruth said:
TiVo doesn't get any channels by itself. It works with whatever programming you get from cable, satellite, or antenna.
Not strictly true; American Suck Countdown hasn't made it to the airwaves, yet it appears on my TiVO with disturbing regularity.

No technical reason why classic TV downloads couldn't be made available via the TiVo broadband interface. Such programs currently stream on In2TV.
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