Monday, November 14, 2005

AOL unveils free Web TV

Time Warner Inc.'s AOL said on Monday it planned to launch a free Internet television service by early 2006, in one of the technology and media industry's most ambitious designs to reach TV viewers online.

Yahoo and Google threaten to bypass traditional media outlets by linking computer users with TV shows online, striking partnerships with programmers or creating content. What they lack AOL now possess in abundance -- the shows themselves.

In its first year, in an exclusive deal, the advertising-supported service, In2TV, will feature approximately 3,400 hours of programming from 4,800 episodes spanning 100 series of Warner Bros.-produced shows from the past.

They include past prime time hits "Welcome Back Kotter," "Growing Pains" and "Kung Fu" organized under six channels divided by comedy, drama, animation, action, classic and superhero/villain genres. Two more channels may launch in 2006.

Over time, Warner Bros. could add up to 14,000 episodes from 300 series it has cleared with rights holders, executives said. AOL is also in talks with "every major provider" to offer shows not owned by Time Warner, Kevin Conroy, executive vice president of AOL media networks said in an interview.

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