Dozens of old television shows including "Welcome Back Kotter" will be available online and free-of-charge under a deal between America Online Inc. and Warner Bros., the companies announced.
In the latest alternative to traditional TV viewing, a new broadband network, called In2TV, will be launched in early 2006 by AOL and Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution, the companies said Monday.
Besides the TV shows, In2TV will include games, polls and other interactive features.
"Lois & Clark," "Chico and the Man," "Alice," "Sisters," "Eight is Enough," "Falcon Crest," and "Growing Pains" are among the 30 series to be offered initially. They will be grouped on channels by genre, including comedy, drama, animation, sci-fi and horror, action-adventure and "vintage TV."
In2TV plans to offer more than 100 TV series and at least 300 episodes per month in the first year, the companies said.
The shows will be delivered through AOL Video on Demand, AOL Video Search and AOL Television. At the time of launch, the programs will be available exclusively on AOL and will not be in syndication on TV, AOL official said.
At first, AOL will only offer material from Warner Bros., but eventually plans to expand and include shows from other studios, the Los Angeles Times reported.
About 35 million homes now have broadband access, compared to 110 million homes with TV. About half of those Internet users say they have watched video online, according to industry analysts.
"The Internet is giving this content a place to live and to be served up in a way that it couldn't be otherwise," Toby Gabriner, president of ad agency Carat Fusion, told the Times.
Several alternates to traditional TV viewing have been announced in recent weeks, including a deal between Apple Computer Inc. and Walt Disney Co. that makes reruns of "Lost" and other programs available for downloading to iPods. CBS and NBC have also decided to allow video-on-demand of some of their primetime shows.
But AOL plans to offer trivia contests, polls and other interactive features, the Times reported.