Five ways the big networks are monetizing online video

August 12, 2010: 1:19 PM ET

From a lá carte to all-you-can-eat, Internet video programming has many pricing options -- none of which are 'free'

By John Patrick Pullen, contributor

I'm blacked out. Again. Earlier this spring, I subscribed to MLB.TV, Major League Baseball's online video service, and was told I'd have access to every regular season game live or on demand, where available, on the device of my choice. For $119 that seemed like a fair deal, especially for days when I'm cranking away at work on my laptop. Then, two weekends ago when my Red Sox were being aired nationally on Fox, the only way I could catch the game live, thanks to the fact that the local team was also playing, was if I could somehow pick up and move my West Coast home to another time zone. I wish I could say it was an aberration, but then, a few days ago, the Boston tilt against the Yankees was on ESPN, but I am without cable for the summer. That meant I'd either have to head to a bar or -- unthinkable -- miss the game altogether.

As coincidence has it, I remembered my story assignment -- online video -- and in three mouse clicks I'm watching the game on For one night, I'm saved from the digital blackout, but this was no gift from the baseball or television gods. Online video has moved far beyond its experimental stage to become big business for the networks. ESPN's (DIS) latest offering is just the most recent way the industry has been able to monetize television content on the web. Like baseball, online video is a numbers game, and it remains to be seen which strategy -- if any -- will shake out as the standard for the web. But here are five strategies the big players are all hoping will be home runs. More

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