NYT: Golden Years of Television Find New Life on the Web

Story in New York Times 28 April about US broadcasters opening up their archives and making old shows available online.  All that is old is new again… did someone say that already?

Of course none of this is available to us here in Australia. On NBC.com, Hulu and Joost a notice appears to say the clip is unavailable from my location, while CBS.com has a regretful female computer voice telling me the same thing.  But it is free in the US – pointing (again?) to the reality that ‘free’ (as in advertiser-supported) rather than subscription may be the way for internet video.

In putting old episodes online, broadcasters are tapping into the “long tail” of niche content that the Internet has monetized. While executives are reticent about the costs involved, and while syndicated and DVD sales remain dominant sources of revenue, the repurposing of long-dead shows is creating another new revenue stream for distributors.

The online re-creation of the WB — a network that disappeared in 2006 when it merged with UPN to become the CW — will represent another step in that direction. While Warner Brothers would not confirm the plans, preferring to wait until a press conference on Monday, Bruce Rosenblum, the president of the company’s television group, said in an interview last week that “premium ad-supported digital destinations that are demographic-specific” are a key part of its strategy going forward.

Advertising-supported TV streaming sites like Hulu, Veoh and Joost are forming a time tunnel to 50 years of television — to shows like “Bewitched” and “Seinfeld” (and even 26 episodes of the 1966 drama “The Time Tunnel”).

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