You need a spreadsheet these days to keep track of the many ways in which TV shows are distribbed online. Apple’s iTunes ignited the download-to-own business two years ago with its groundbreaking licensing pact with ABC. Now Amazon’s Unbox, Microsoft’s Xbox and Wal-Mart are among the companies looking to muscle in on Apple’s pay-per-download biz. With a few exceptions, i.e. free promotional offerings, the industry standard fee remains the $1.99 per seg established by iTunes.
ABC also led the marketplace in embracing free on-demand streaming video offerings of its series in a big way last season via ABC.com, and now every one of the major broadcasters have joined the party. NBC Universal and News Corp. have teamed to launch on what they hope will be the mother of all streaming vid sites in Hulu.com, and the Peacock is also experimenting with a service dubbed NBC Direct, which will deliver full episodes directly to consumers for streaming viewing on their PC hard drives, as opposed to through an Internet link to a website, for up to a week after a seg premieres on the network.