HolidayBuyer's Guide

AOL's TV gambit

AOL says it's the first to show an entire TV episode on the Internet before it launches in the fall. A step in the right direction.

America Online is streaming the pilot episode of The WB Television Network's "Jack & Bobby" this week. The company said it's the first time a new show has premiered in streaming-video form on the Internet.

While it's too early to tell if this is a winning play for AOL, it's certainly a good step for its objectives. Beaten up by subscriber losses in its dial-up service, AOL needs to convince broadband customers that it's got something that nobody else has. This HBO model could work if there's enough exclusive content that people care about.

I wonder if broadband users are adept enough to find programming by their own means or whether they prefer a more packaged approach. We'll see.