How TimeWarner, Comcast bosses beat free online TV

Not long ago, Silicon Valley start-ups planned to use free Internet programming to take over the TV business, writes Business Week here. Free TV "would be everywhere.... Tune in on laptops... (or) tablets from the beach... Fueled with venture money, tech companies with names like Boxee, Roku, and Sezmi pursued their dream of untethering viewers from their TV sets—and owning a piece of the advertising revenue.

But instead, "it looks like the cable guys are playing the lead roles, using the $32 billion they pay content providers each year as leverage... What happened? Part of the answer is TV Everywhere, a service in its infancy, conjured up in quiet strategy sessions by Jeff Bewkes and Brian Roberts, the CEOs of Time Warner and Comcast.

"They took a lesson from the music labels, which looked up one day to find that Steve Jobs and Apple had taken control of their inventory." The cable bosses' answer: TV Everywhere, which limits online programming to paid cable customers. "For TV Everywhere to work, the behemoths of the business must stand together and stamp out the rampaging weed called free. After all, if you can get programing for free—real free—why would you ever pay a cable bill?"

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