Thousands of episodes from some of the most popular television series of all time will make a comeback exclusively on AOL.com (http://www.aol.com) in early 2006, thanks to a pioneering collaboration between AOL and Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution to form a new broadband network. The network– called In2TV – will allow consumers to stream full-length episodes from favorite series such as Welcome Back Kotter, Sisters, Beetlejuice, Lois & Clark, La Femme Nikita and Growing Pains free and on-demand on the Web. Along with full-length episodes, In2TV will also include unique interactive features such as games, quizzes, polls, trivia contests and more.
This first-of-its-kind interactive video experience demonstrates the impact of broadband—now in 53% of U.S. households*–on the television industry, as broadband provides a new platform for television assets on the Internet.
So what took them so long? This is one of the synergies that were promised as a rationale for the original AOL merger with Time Warner.
And how are they going to make money off it? In2TV will be supported by advertising much like regular broadcast TV:
In2TV will provide AOL’s advertisers with compelling video inventory for instream broadband advertising as well as opportunities for sponsorships and accompanying banner ads. Video ads, 15-second and 30-second spots, will be limited to a total of 1-2 minutes within each 30-minute episode as compared to 8 minutes of advertising on broadcast television.
There are more programming details available by following the link, but from a technology perspective there’s something else:
These series will be offered in a new DVD quality video format called “AOL Hi-Q.” This new technology, which builds upon AOL’s industry-leading online video experience, enables high resolution, full-screen viewing. It will be made available free to any broadband user (along with standard-quality streaming). AOL.com is the first major portal to offer this kind of high quality video experience to consumers.
And in fact, there’s a separate press release devoted to it:
The AOL.com portal is the first to introduce a trial for a new “AOL Hi-Q” high quality video format. The AOL Hi-Q format builds on the AOL.com Web portal’s industry-leading video experience ( http://www.aol.com/video) and can deliver DVD quality videos, in addition to standard quality streaming video, free to broadband users. Consumers can view AOL Hi-Q video on demand as well as select to have new Hi-Q videos in a particular category of interest, such as online movie trailers, music videos, video game trailers and more entertainment content, pushed to them when they are available.
Using one of the industry’s first commercial-grade, peer-to-peer grid distribution networks, developed in partnership with Kontiki, AOL® Hi-Q™ can deliver DVD quality videos directly to consumers more quickly and efficiently. The peer-to-peer distribution network built by Kontiki features robust security to protect copyrighted content through digital rights management (DRM) and a centrally managed, highly-scalable delivery model that enables AOL to reliably deliver content to consumers. Through the installation of a simple plug-in, a special AOL Hi-Q video player provides a high resolution display with image quality designed for full-screen viewing on PC monitors or televisions capable of showing a PC interface.
So you’re actually signing up for a peer-to-peer (P2P) network developed by Kontiki and sponsored and managed by AOL. Interesting times indeed!