The advent of broadband, high speed Internet access in millions of homes has introduced the use of video over those networks as a mainstream digital reality and led to the creation of phenomena such as YouTube. It has also baffled the television and movie corporate powers, who can’t decide whether to sue online video sites or learn to use them as new channels for distribution of their products. In fact, some of each is occurring.
The movie companies are much touchier about the Internet, as evidenced by the one billion dollar lawsuit filed by Viacom against Google – now the owner of YouTube. NBC TV on the other hand, has looked to use the Internet in creative and productive ways.
Perhaps the most intriguing example is the sitcom “Nobody’s Watching”, a TV pilot that was developed for WB Television and ultimately rejected. But when the pilot leaked onto YouTube, its popularity soared – and it has since been seen by one million viewers on the web site. As a result of the online interest, NBC picked it up as a series – to be shown on YouTube.
While “Nobody’s Watching” is solely an online product, NBC has focused on trying to combine the use of the Internet with its traditional broadcast format. One of the results of this approach has been their TV series “Heroes,” which has a companion website featuring a novel that is integrated into the show, and vice-versa.
Meanwhile, other online entrepreneurs have developed broadband television outlets with astonishing reach. Beeline TV (www.beelinetv.com) has a channel lineup that includes an alphabetical lineup from Albanian to Turkish TV. Between feeds from those two countries is television programming from Croatia, the Netherlands, Japan, the Arabian newsfeed Al Jazeera, and dozens of other stations including many from the U.S. While the streaming can be somewhat spotty, the concept is remarkable and appears to be offering product with little concern for copyright threats.
Internet TV Access (www.internettvaccess.com) offers a software package that supposedly makes hundreds of TV channels available free. Their lineup includes international channels and domestic specialty channels such as “Classic TV” that replays oldies you might have missed the first time around. TV4U has a similar lineup – 2640 TV channels from almost everywhere.
As with every Internet product, where there is content there must be an online index. One of the more prominent is Find Internet TV (www.findinternettv.com). You can search this website by category, by language and by country to see what’s available in online television.
All of these services claim to be freebies, and all of them insist that you “join” by providing an email address and perhaps some other innocuous information. It’s unclear what the business model is for these video amalgamators, but what is obvious is their ambitious reach. It’s also interesting that video streams from thousands of worldwide television feeds are being made available online. They must be satellite feeds that are pulled off the birds and fed into internet servers, because very few television networks are operating online feeds of their own at this point.