AOL to launch online TV service

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

AOL and Warner Bros. have announced plans to allow subscribers to be allowed to watch thousands of episodes of dozens of vintage shows online and for free. In2TV will be launched in January 2006, providing full episodes of many classic shows, such as Welcome Back, Kotter, Falcon Crest, Beetlejuice, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Babylon 5, La Femme Nikita and Growing Pains.

In2TV will be offered exclusively through AOL, and will not be syndicated on TV. Each show will have two minutes of commercials for every thirty of programming. The new AOL service differs from the new iTunes Video service in that iTunes offers only new programming. iTunes also sells shows at $1.99 per episode as opposed to offering programs that are fully advertising supported.

In addition to full-length episodes, In2TV will provide interactive quizzes, games, and trivia. The TV series will be orgainized into genre-themed channels, some of which are:

  • Starchives - Episodes featuring current stars before they became truly famous, such as Brad Pitt on Growing Pains
  • Punchlines - Classic comedy clips
  • TV Karaoke - Sing-alongs to favorite TV-show themes
  • Classic Crème de la Crème - Showcases of some of the most memorable episodes of a show
  • Betcha Didn’t Know!: The Ultimate TV Quiz - Allows fans to test their knowledge of trivia
  • RetroRunway - Classic fashion from TV series
  • StarFavs - Some of the stars' favorite episodes
  • Where Are They Now? - Find out where the stars are now

"This service will bring an unprecedented collection of popular TV series to a totally new platform, revolutionizing the distribution of television programming," said Eric Frankel, President, Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution.

Many companies are now making efforts to avoid going the way of the music industry, by preemptively providing legal, cheap methods of viewing TV episodes online. The notion that online delivery can be particularly advantageous to vintage television shows was sparked by an MP3 Newswire article that appeared a few days after Apple announced its iTunes video service. The essay titled "Can iTunes Resurrect Old Time TV?" made a business case that older television content squeezed out of traditional television delivery schemes can be revived by new online revenue models.