Gigs & Bytes: As Seen On TV
Warner Bros. will allow local stations that purchased the rerun syndication package for “Two And A Half Men” to stream the shows on their Web sites.
Up until now, all television/Web deals have bypassed local TV stations by selling episodes directly to consumers or streaming programs from network Web sites.
There have been concerns that offering reruns of popular shows on the Web would cut into syndication profits as well as DVD sales. But Warner’s gameplan may result in a higher price tag for rerun packages that include the Web option than what the studio charges for a basic, TV-only syndication run. Plus, local stations will sell advertising to go along with those streams, thus creating new revenue opportunities.
As to offering similar deals on other syndication packages, Warner Bros. is expected to consider streaming on a “case-by-case basis” according to The Wall Street Journal.
In another deal, Warner Bros. will also become the first major studio to distribute its films and TV shows using BitTorrent’s peer-to-peer technology.
Unlike earlier P2Ps which provided simple host/client downloads, BitTorrent users receive smaller chunks of the same file from several computers, thus resulting in an overall faster download. A person using Gnutella, for example, might have to wait for a large file to drip out of a slow host computer one byte at a time, but a BitTorrent user will receive the beginning, middle and end of a file all at once from different computers.
Warner Bros. has yet to announce prices or even a launch date for its BitTorrent project. However, individual TV shows could cost as little as one dollar and movies might be priced about the same as DVDs. The studio will also sell copies that can be burned to DVD. However, those copies will only play on the computer that downloaded the original file and will not play on standard DVD players.
Meanwhile, Fox is taking the iTunes plunge. The studio plans to sell downloads of hit shows like “24” as well as classic TV fare such as “Lost In Space” for $1.99.
All in all, the Fox/iTunes deal, which will make 16 more shows available for download, represents the largest programming entry on iTunes by a single studio. Currently, Apple offers more than 90 shows from 20-plus networks.
Television’s embracing of the Web marks one of the quickest paradigm shifts ever seen in any industry. It was only last October when Apple announced a deal with Disney to offer episodes of “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” on iTunes one day after the programs aired on Disney-owned ABC.
Compare that to the recording industry spending almost all its energy shutting down P2P networks before it could develop its own Internet strategy and an argument could be made that one industry looked to the future while another desperately tried to hold on to the past.