The advent of high-speed broadband Internet access in millions of homes has introduced the use of video on these networks as a pervasive digital reality and has led to the creation of phenomena such as YouTube. It has also baffled the corporate powerhouses of television and film, who can’t decide whether to sue online video sites or learn to use them as new channels for distributing their products. In fact, something of each is occurring.
Movie companies are very moving about the Internet, as evidenced by Viacom’s billion-dollar lawsuit against Google, now owner of YouTube. NBC TV, on the other hand, has sought to use the Internet creatively and productively.
Perhaps the most intriguing example is the sitcom “Nobody’s Watching,” a television pilot that was developed for WB Television and ultimately rejected. But when the pilot was leaked on YouTube, its popularity skyrocketed, and it has since been watched by a million viewers on the website. As a result of 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 blend the use of the Internet with its traditional broadcast format. One result of this approach has been his television series “Heroes,” which has a companion website that features a novel that is integrated into the show and vice versa.
Meanwhile, other online entrepreneurs have developed broadband TV channels with amazing reach. Beeline TV (www.beelinetv.com) has a channel list that includes an alphabetical list of Albanian to Turkish television. Between the broadcasts from those two countries is television programming from Croatia, the Netherlands, Japan, the Arabic news feed Al Jazeera, and dozens of other stations, including many from the US. While the broadcast 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 for free. Its programming includes international channels and specialized national channels, such as “Classic TV”, which plays old hits that you may have missed the first time. TV4U has a similar schedule: 2,640 TV channels from almost everywhere.
Like any Internet product, where there is content there must be an online index. One of the most prominent is Find Internet TV (www.findinternetv.com). You can search this website by category, by language and by country to see what is available on TV online.
All of these services claim to be free, and all insist that you “join” by providing an email address and perhaps some other innocuous information. It is not clear what the business model is for these video amalgamators, but what is obvious is their ambitious scope. It is also interesting that video footage from thousands of television broadcasts around the world is available online. They must be satellite feeds that are pulled from the birds and fed to Internet servers, because very few TV networks are operating their own feeds online at the moment.