Time Warner, Comcast bring more content online

Fans of The Closer, My Boys and Tyler Perry just got another way to watch their favorite shows: Online.

Time Warner Inc. and Comcast Corp. yesterday announced a partnership to "develop broad principles for the TV Everywhere model to guide the distribution of its television content online."

The basis of TV Everywhere are these principles:

  • Bring more TV content, more easily to more people across platforms.
  • Video subscribers can watch programming from their favorite TV networks online for no additional charge.
  • Video subscribers can access this content using any broadband connection.
  • Programmers should make their best and highest-rated programming available online.
  • Both networks and video distributors should provide high-quality, consumer-friendly sites for viewing broadband content with easy authentication.
  • A new process should be created to measure ratings for online viewing. The goal should be to extend the current viewer measurement system to include advertiser ratings for TV content viewed on all platforms.
  • TV Everywhere is open and non-exclusive; cable, satellite or telco video distributors can enter into similar agreements with other programmers.

Probably the biggest deal here is the call for a new process to measure online viewing.

Networks and advertisers have been sticking to the old Nielsen model of ratings measurement, which only counts shows watched on actual television sets. Nielsen has made some improvements to account for DVRs, by measuring ratings in the 24-hour period following the show being aired, and adding an extra measurement for shows watched within seven days of the original airing.

While TNT and TBS, Time Warner's biggest networks, still don't have the power of the Big Four (or even Big Five if you include The CW), they have some popular shows: The Closer and Saving Grace on TNT and Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns and My Boys on TBS. One would imagine there are many fans who are viewing the shows through ... shall we say, less than legal means online. This move by Time Warner and Comcast will ensure more people will watch the shows legally, giving them more control over their own content.

It's starting with a trial for Comcast video customers. Time Warner's original programming will be accessible on Comcast.net and Fancast.com for starters. Later, they'll also be available on TNT.tv and TBS.com. Some will be available in HD.

Calling it "On Demand Online," the trial kicks off with about 5,000 customers across the nation to get the "new authentication technology" tested properly.

Comcast says it expects other networks to join as the trial expands and Time Warner says it expects other cable companies to take it up on the offer.

If the trial is successful, it could kick off a brand-new model for television.