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Classic television episodes migrate to the Internet

In another major migration of traditional television programming to the Internet, Warner Brothers is starting a new service that will allow viewers to access more than 100 vintage television shows on their personal computers.

Called In2TV, the service will be cost free and ad-supported. It is slated to begin early next year with more than 4800 episodes available through Time-Warner’s AOL Web portal. An AOL subscription is not required.

The New York Times reported that the initiative will give Warner Brothers a new advertising revenue stream from old programming that is no longer widely syndicated to broadcast outlets. Program fare will include such series as "Maverick," "Wonder Woman," "Babylon 5," and "Chico and the Man."

Each half hour episode is expected to have from one to two minutes of commercials, as opposed to about eight minutes on broadcast television. Internet viewers will have no controls to fast-forward through the ads.

Warner’s move is the latest in a series of aftershocks that have occurred since Oct. 12, the day that Apple Computer began selling ABC television series and other video programming from its iTunes Web site for a new video-capable iPod. In the first 20 days, Apple sold more than 1 million videos for $1.99 each.

Within the past month, NBC and CBS have announced that they will sell reruns of their top new shows for 99 cents an episode through VOD services. There were reports that other television offerings are in the works.

In addition to Apple’s explosive start, there’s further evidence the experiment might pay off. A recent survey of nearly 1100 Internet users by Storck’s firm, Points North Group, found that 28 percent said they wanted to watch regular television shows on their PCs or laptops.

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