updated 02:50 pm EST, Fri February 20, 2009
Comcast TWC Online TV
Two US cable providers are looking to put their TV programming online in a bid to preserve their business, sources have reportedly told the Wall Street Journal. Comcast and Time Warner Cable are believed to have been in ongoing talks with content providers, such as NBC and Viacom, for a deal that would let subscribers to cable TV packages stream "much" of their available shows online on the web. The selection would be "well beyond" what free online services like Hulu offer.
Both of the involved companies would use a similar compensation model, however, and would offer the service as a free component of cable service by using ads to subsidize the cost of the service itself.
NBC, Viacom and others are quoted as being interested in the concept, which is potentially set to launch sometime during the year.
Critics have charged that proposals for such ideas are strictly defensive moves meant to protect cable service from unified services such as Hulu, network-specific sites, and pay-per-show stores like iTunes and Amazon Video on Demand. Such alternatives let users scrap regular TV service and often bypass cable providers altogether, paying revenues directly to the networks.