Commentary

ABC Blesses Blogs, Endorses Embedding

ABC was the first major TV network to put its prime-time programs online when it made episodes of shows like "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" available at ABC.com two years ago.

Since then, other networks have not only joined ABC in putting shows online, but have come up with more innovative distribution methods. NBC and Fox recently joined forces to launch Hulu.com, which has catapulted into the top video sites. Last month, Hulu and partners streamed more than 63 million videos, compared to 57 million at ABC.com, according to Nielsen data reported by Reuters.

Today, however, ABC announced its first significant revision to its Web TV plans since 2006. In an effort to distribute programs across the Web, the TV network will start letting Web users embed clips of its shows on blogs and other sites. ABC.com also will make it easier for users to find specific portions of TV shows, and will roll out a new video player that lets users expand the video to the full screen.

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For ABC, the upgrade makes sense. On the Internet, users themselves have always distributed content -- whether by e-mailing stupid jokes, sending their friends news stories or, more recently, embedding video clips in their own blogs and Web sites.

Besides, if TV networks don't make it easy for users to embed content, other companies will. Some already have. RedLasso -- now under attack by the networks -- has a large following of bloggers that use its service to embed TV clips in their sites. CBS, Fox and NBC have recently sent that company a cease and desist letter, ordering it to stop enabling syndication of network shows. RedLasso CEO Ken Hayward, meanwhile, argued that the company is helping traditional TV networks. "RedLasso believes we are providing a valuable service to the content producers and the bloggers," Hayward said.

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