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Cable TV shows will go online

Associated Press / June 25, 2009
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PHILADELPHIA - Time Warner Inc. and Comcast Corp. yesterday took steps to bring cable television shows to the Internet - but only for paying cable subscribers.

In a nod to the idea that viewing is rapidly moving online and to the mobile phone, Time Warner, one of the world’s largest entertainment companies, and Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, said they will start online video trials nationally in July.

“It’s clearly something demanded by consumers,’’ Time Warner’s chief executive, Jeff Bewkes, said at a press conference in New York. “If this approach gets adopted . . . it will go past broadcast viewing [online], which is basically three networks on Hulu.’’

The test will involve 5,000 Comcast customers who will get access to Turner Broadcasting System Inc.’s TNT and TBS cable networks. Turner is a unit of Time Warner. Time Warner Cable Inc., which separated from its parent this year, is not part of the trials.

TNT and TBS make such shows as “The Closer’’ and “Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns.’’ Viewers can access the shows initially at Comcast.net and Fancast.com. Eventually, they will be available on TNT.tv and TBS.com. There is no additional fee.

Eventually, “we want to be able to have all our shows on demand and on the Internet,’’ said Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts. “This marks the very logical next evolution of where cable television has come from.’’

Most cable shows are not available online unless they are versions that viewers share with each other over the Internet. Time Warner and Comcast say that a successful outcome of their trial would open the floodgates for shows currently not easily accessible or available.

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