Time Warner charts “Hits Channel”

April 3, 2006

Time Warner Cable is currently in talks with the four top U.S. television networks to create a ratings-based, on-demand television “Hits Channel.”

If the deal is completed, it would offer viewers on-demand access to the most popular television shows immediately after they first air. Nielsen Media Research would base the choice of offerings on early ratings.

A video-on-demand service based on the shifting whims of TV viewers would represent the first effort to package and sell television programs in a way that mimics the “wisdom of crowds” approach, which has become common on the Internet and underpins the way search engines such as Google rank results, the New York Times reported.

Before any version of a ratings-based service could become a reality, television executives cautioned the newspaper that the hurdles that have held back the widespread availability of video-on-demand would have to be overcome.

Primarily, the networks and cable operator would have to decide how the subscription fees would be split between the distributor and networks, and also how the network pot would be divided among the ever-changing lineup of top programs.

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