Freeware Television - AOL gets a head start

AOL has recently introduced their in2TV system. This operates in a similar way to the article’s proposal: AOL will give free access to programmes subsidised by advertising. The system has been hailed as the first Broadband Television network, eventually offering thousands of classic TV shows. For the time being, however, only 30 shows are available, each with 10 episodes.

I am sure many will welcome the opportunity to view the V, Lois and Clark, or David Carradine's Kung Fu, played at a respectable 1280x1024 pixels using AOL's HQ video format. According to AOL, this content has gradually lost its place on the mainstream broadcast field and would appeal to more vertical audiences. Apparently, AOL will use streaming technology for In2TV, instead of the promising P2P technology.

Ultimately, AOL’s Video On Demand archive is designed to attract users. Their VOD archive contains more than 18,000 licensed assets, and AOL has indexed more than 1.5 million others via Singing Fish.

AOL also plans to provide ad-free programmes, although the appeal would be severely limited. After all, few would object to the occasional advert in exchange for quality films and documentaries; that is, of course, how conventional TV channels work.

The success of this venture, however, depends upon a number of factors: whether telecommunication companies are ready to face the onslaught of mass-downloaded high-bandwidth movies; whether competitors and rivals are ready to collaborate and kill the VHS/DVD rental market; and, most importantly, whether there will be a large enough catalogue of movies available to fans.