Oct. 12, 2005: Disney inks its landmark deal to provide ABC television shows to Apple Computer’s iTunes, an alliance that lifts shows such as “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” beyond traditional TV and gives consumers new power to watch shows when and where they want.
Nov. 8, 2005: CBS and NBC sign pacts with Comcast and DirecTV, respectively, to offer their prime-time programming on video-on-demand, a first for a broadcast network. The twin deals represent the start of both advertising-supported and fee-based business models for prime-time fare on VOD.
Nov. 14, 2005: AOL partners with Warner Bros. to create In2TV, an advertising-supported broadband TV network. In2TV marks the first time traditional TV programming is made available on a large scale on the Internet and the first major ad deal in the gold rush toward online video.
Jan. 6, 2006: At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Google co-founder Larry Page unveils the Google Video store with partners CBS and the National Basketball Association. The announcement signals Google’s intent to play a major role in the online TV business. Since then, the company has tested an upfront ad sales system for TV and syndicated video clips from MTV Networks across the Web.
Jan. 16, 2006: NBC’s “The Office” delivers its highest prime-time ratings to date, a boost credited to its popularity as an iTunes download. The “Office” ratings provide one of the first pieces of data on how new media can drive ratings rather than splinter them.
March 28, 2006: E! becomes the first network to partner with YouTube for E!’s Cybersmack contest, touching off the red-hot rise of YouTube in the television business. Video-sharing has redefined promotional possibilities for TV networks through YouTube’s fast-growing audience-from 5 million unique viewers per month in January to 34 million per month in August.
April 10, 2006: ABC unveils plans to offer full-length, ad-supported episodes of prime-time shows such as “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” on ABC.com. ABC.com’s experiment was the first effort by a broadcast network to stream shows on its Web site; other networks follow suit.
May 3, 2006: As part of the off-network syndication rollout of “Two and a Half Men” for fall 2007, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution says it will allow local stations to stream entire episodes on their Web sites, marking the first syndication deal for online streaming of shows. The deal allows TV stations a chance to cash in on the Internet video rush.
May 15, 2006: Social networking site MySpace announces plans to offer Fox Network programming on its site, the first big push by MySpace into television programming. The deal marks the start of MySpace as a major player in TV distribution and promotion.
July 31, 2006: AOL announces plans to introduce a download-to-own service with content from MTV Networks and A&E in August. The move ignites a new flood of competition for iTunes, with Amazon following suit in early September. Networks such as A&E and Fox also detail plans to offer download-to-own shows on their Web sites in the coming months.