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Media Convergence: Cable TV Companies Nervously Embrace Web February 25, 2009

Posted by pannet in Internet & Communities.
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Cable networks apparently don’t want to follow in the footsteps of the music and film industries, allowing their traditional business models to dissolve while they beat their breasts over the unstoppable force of the Internet. Instead, they’re looking for a way to give consumers what they want — anytime, anywhere television programming — and make a buck while doing it. […]

One model being discussed is for Philadelphia-based Comcast to expand its lineup of cable shows on Fancast.com, its Web site that aggregates TV shows and movies for free viewing, much like Hulu.com — but only subscribers could access the shows. It’s not yet clear how subscribers would be authenticated; it would be easier if the customer also bought high-speed Internet service from the cable company.

Cable operators and the networks have to walk a fine line between preserving their business and standing in the way of the online video revolution. About 34 percent of adults who go online at home watch videos over the Internet at least every week, up from 25 percent two years ago, said a survey released Monday by Leichtman Research Group.

People aren’t yet cutting the cord en masse — the Leichtman survey found that people who watch recent TV shows online every week are not more likely to give up TV service than other people. Still, the industry is heading off what could end up as a troubling trend. After all, the availability of free content online has befuddled other media industries, from music to newspapers.

Hulu, a joint venture between NBC and Fox that streams free TV shows and movies, already has felt pressure from content providers. It recently ended access to its shows from Boxee, a startup’s free program that lets viewers watch online shows easily on their TV sets. Industry executives say Hulu is losing money, but Hulu declined to comment on its financial status.

The cable companies and others involved in the talks for a TV service said their goal isn’t to kill the online video goose, but to work out a plan that keeps everyone’s business intact.

Technology News: Media Convergence: Cable TV Companies Nervously Embrace Web.

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