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Google offers primetime video streamcasts

Google continued its foray into television last week, offering an Internet streamcast of the television premiere of Chris Rock’s new comedy, “Everybody Hates Chris”.

The series premiere — 21 minutes after removing commercials — was offered through Google’s servers Monday through Thursday, when the new episode broadcast on UPN. To prevent further distribution, the video was available as an on-demand stream rather than a download, which could be stored on a computer and copied, the Associated Press reported.

For UPN, the offering was an opportunity to reach viewers, particularly younger ones, who might have missed the premiere on broadcast TV. For Google, it was a chance to demonstrate that its Google Video service, still in a beta test phase, is more than a collection of home videos, which users are encouraged to upload, the AP said.

Through Google Video, professionals and amateurs alike may submit video that is indexed and then displayed through a browser-based video player. All the currently available videos are free, but Google hopes to eventually charge for some material in partnership with the content providers.

The Webcast was the result of a deal Google made with UPN. Larry Kramer, president of CBS Digital Media, which oversees UPN’s Web site, said the network had to work out special rights with the production company, UPN affiliates and owners of music featured on the show.

Earlier this year, the WB debuted its new series “Supernatural” on Yahoo before airing it on television, and last year it showed “Jack & Bobby” on America Online first. Yahoo also streamed the pilot of Kirstie Alley’s “Fat Actress” at the same time it debuted on Showtime.

The BBC also is experimenting with video online and plans to eventually let Web users watch its programs up to a week after they have aired. In addition, studios have been adapting their hit shows for new media. Fox developed original, one-minute episodes of “24” for mobile devices.

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