Yahoo!7 says it will begin offering episodes of popular Australian shows for free download within the next year. A few years from now, when we live in a unified media world, we may look back at this little story and say, “remember when Yahoo! thought it was a big deal that they offered soap operas for download.”
Soaps to be just a click away
By John Lehmann
April 17, 2006
INTERNET users will soon be able to download for free popular Australian TV shows, such as Home and Away and Dancing With The Stars, under plans by the Seven Network and its online partner, Yahoo.
Yahoo!7 executives expect shows produced by Seven to be available online over the next 12 months following a similar move by Walt Disney in the US.
The shows, which could be downloaded over a broadband internet connection the day after they were broadcast on TV, would be embedded with advertising, a Seven insider said.
Shows expected to be made available online could include Sunrise, Better Homes and Gardens, The Great Outdoors and All Saints.
New drama and entertainment shows currently in production for Seven are being developed with an eye on possible internet and magazine spin-off elements, the source said.
It is understood Seven would like to begin trialling broadband downloads as soon as possible.
But they are being held back by Australia’s notoriously slow broadband speeds, which can mean it takes several hours to download a TV show or movie.
The Nine Network is expected to consider making some of its Australian-produced shows available for download through ninemsn, its online venture with Microsoft.
Yahoo!7 chief executive Rohan Lund declined to comment on the plans in an interview with The Australian.
But he said Seven believed online programming could complement its traditional TV business by giving people the freedom to watch shows at a time of their choosing.
Walt Disney announced last week a two-month trial in which four of its top shows would be able to be downloaded for free in the US.
Disney’s ABC network will offer Lost, Desperate Housewives, Commander in Chief and Alias on the web from next month. But internet users outside the US will be blocked from downloading the shows to protect international TV rights holders, such as the Seven Network, which broadcasts episodes several weeks after their American screenings.
Disney began selling episodes without advertising of Lost and Desperate Housewives six months ago for $US1.99 ($2.75) through Apple’s iTunes store.