The long-discussed Comcast
online television experiment will launch before year's end, allowing
viewers to — legally — watch certain shows online for the first time.
A couple dozen networks - including HBO, Showtime, TNT and AMC - have
agreed to allow Comcast to provide access to their most popular television
shows online to existing cable company subscribers. Time Warner is said
to be next in line, if the Comcast experiment works out, and it's
possible the move will extend beyond subscribers once the kinks are
It's up to the individual networks to decide how much of their content
is available online. For example, HBO could release all seasons of
"True Blood," while AMC might decide to just do the current season of
"Mad Men" and Showtime could stream two seasons of "Weeds."
A&E, AMC, BBC America
, CBS, Cinemax, DIY Network
, Fine Living Network
, Food Network
, Hallmark Channel
, HBO, HGTV, History, IFC, MGM Impact, Starz, Sundance Channel
, TNT, WE tv, E! Entertainment, The Style Network
G4 and Fearnet (the last of which is owned by Comcast) have signed up
to be part of the initial offerings. Several of the networks are owned
by CBS, including Showtime and Sundance.
CBS does not offer its shows on Hulu.com, the successful joint project
between NBC Universal and Fox. However, despite Hulu's growing
popularity, it has yet to turn a profit. And Google hasn't been able to
make the hugely popular YouTube.com profitable, either. Whether the
subscriber model works in a medium - the Internet - that has wreaked
havoc on other legacy media industries such as music and newspapers
because of its free model is yet to be seen.
There are no plans right now to offer an online-only subscription
track, but if the model is a success and keeps people from leaving the