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AOL launches free "broadband" TV service

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AOL launches free "broadband" TV service

Dulles (VA) – Digital audio and video these days is a playing field for technology and content providers to explore which compromises consumers are willing to accept. AOL’s “In2TV” enters the scene as a breath of fresh air – the service recycles vintage TV shows, is free of charge and is available in surprising high quality.

AOL describes In2TV as the first broadband television network, which will be offering “thousands of classic TV shows” to visitors. At launch, the company hasn’t quite reached that goal yet, with 29 different shows and 10 episodes each. And content offered through the service doesn’t follow Apple’s lead, which is focusing on current and trendy television shows and sports broadcasts.

In2TV remarkets content from Warner Bros. that has lost its value on the TV screen – including shows such as Kung Fu, The Fugitive, Babylon 5, Kotter and Falcon Crest. However, consumers who have missed those classics are now getting a chance to watch these shows on demand, and if wanted, through AOL’s HQ player at a 1500 kb/s bit rate, which is enough to display a decent picture at a screen resolution of up to 1280 x 1024 pixels.

While the high resolution is a unique feature among large content providers by itself, AOL allows users to view the content also free of charge – sort of. Instead of charging a download fee, AOL finances the content through ad banners. According to the company, In2TV content will be expanded with more episodes and more shows every month. At this time, the company does not plan on introducing a download fee for the service.

Access restrictions to the content are low and are clearly designed with the goal to draw huge crowds to the service. Besides Windows XP, Windows Player 10.0 and AOL’s HQ player for higher resolutions, there are no other requirements. Surprisingly, the service is not limited to AOL subscribers or to buyers of Viiv devices, as it may have been suspected earlier this year.

“In2TV breaks new ground as the first true broadband television network. With the largest collection of full length television programming anywhere on the Web, plus interactive features and viral videos all free and on-demand, In2TV will appeal to existing fans as well as introduce these shows to a whole new generation,” said Kevin Conroy, executive vice president of AOL’s media networks in a prepared statement.

In fact, In2TV may become the single most important product for AOL to attract new users to the brand. And at least for now, the service may also introduce the kind of choice that has been promised by other content providers.