Online video launches bolster medium

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Last week, the world of online video content grew significantly when The Inter­net Movie Database (IMDb), Amazon.com and NBC each launched new online video services.

“There are so many buying options for customers when they're figuring out how they want to watch their favorite shows,” said Leah Weathersby, senior movies and TV editor at Amazon. She cited the increasing popularity of DVDs and Blu-ray discs in addition to the growth of video-on-demand.

Through its new service, called Amazon Video On Demand, Amazon.com users can now visit more than 500 TV show stores on the site, where they can view full episodes. Clips and bonus features are also available, with some content gener­ated by Amazon's editors. Customers can also view certain episodes of programs before their broadcast premieres.

“It's starting to seem like a detail page for a single product isn't really enough to reflect all the purchasing options,” Weath­ersby said. “They might be interested in soundtracks, companion books, that type of thing.”

On IMDb, which is a subsidiary of Amazon.com, users can watch full-length movies and TV shows for free. Tammy Hovey, a spokeswoman for the site, said that there are currently more than 6,000 videos available.

“Our goal is to get every playable video on the Internet available for free on IMDb,” she said. “So, for every title page where there's a show or movie associated with it, we want to be able to provide the video content.”

Hovey declined to go into detail regard­ing IMDb's plans to monetize this initia­tive; however, she did say that the content is ad-supported.

NBC is now granting viewers access to its programming on multiple platforms, including NBC.com and Hulu.

The network's programs, such as Satur­day Night Live and The Office, will be avail­able on all of Hulu's distribution partners, which include Yahoo, MSN, AOL, MyS­pace and Fancast.com. NBC content can also be viewed on Amazon Video On Demand and two Microsoft properties: Xbox Live and Zune Marketplace.

There are a number of different adver­tising structures across the content pro­viders. On Amazon Video On Demand, the videos are ad-free — but, depending on the content, users sometimes must pay to view. On NBC.com, shows have interactive pre-rolls and branded video players. IMDb also displays a sponsor's logo in a short pre-roll.

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