Show us the money, say TV networks to the web

'With the TV business evolving into eyeballs on the internet, TV studios are trying to wrestle control of how their shows are being watched.

The major networks have their sights set on the 2010-11 television season at this week's upfront presentations in Gotham, but there's another behind-the-scenes frenzy taking place that's all about the not-too-distant future.

The TV biz is engaged in a delicate balancing act of adjusting how and where to program their shows on the Internet, fearful of undercutting their traditional sources of revenue -- the 30-second spot and cable subscriber and retransmission fees -- but fully aware that they don't want to miss out on consumers' ever-increasing thirst for watching shows online.

The risks are obvious: Five years ago, in the wake of ABC's groundbreaking pact to offer its shows on iTunes, networks rushed to post their shows and clips on their Websites, as well as elsewhere. But there's been a big drawback to getting viewers in the habit of watching on their computer screens, as the ad dollars reaped are much lower online than they are on the TV set. And with mobile devices, the iPad, HD TV sets and Internet-enabled Blu-rays making it all the easier to access the Web, the threat has spread to cable operators: They fear consumers will pull the plug altogether for the lower-priced alternative.

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Film Business, Hollywood, Internet TV, TV


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