Internet TV marks banner week

Last week appeared to be a new highpoint for Internet TV with a series of developments that indicate the growing strength and appeal of the public Internet as a distribution platform for television.

The BBC announced April 30 that it planned to launch a Web-based, on-demand service to give viewers access to its most popular shows for up to 30 days from their airing. On May 1, UK broadcaster ITV followed suit with its own Web distribution announcement. ITV said it would stream its shows and commercials over the Internet and offer visitors to its Web site the opportunity to access a 30-day program archive so they could catch up on missed program episodes.

Joost also launched its broadcast-quality Internet TV service May 1 and announced it had struck a deal with Turner Broadcasting System to distribute programming, including the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and CNN. Others signing on with Joost included Sony Pictures Television, Sports Illustrated, the National Hockey League and toymaker Hasbro.

Two days later, evidence of why Internet TV is such a hot commodity emerged with the release of a StrategyOne study sponsored by Motorola that revealed nearly half of Europe is currently watching TV on the Internet.

The survey of 2500 broadband users in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain put the number of Europeans watching TV online at 45 percent. The survey showed 59 percent of French viewers are choosing to watch previews and episodes of TV shows on the Web. Next on the list of Internet TV viewers was Italy, followed by the UK. Germans ranked last, with 33 percent watching shows online.