Computer software giant Microsoft is about to bring free, commercial television to the Web, AP reports. Several online sites have experimented with offering commercial programs commercial-free on a pay–per-view or pay-to-download basis. Most notable among these, of course, is ITunes. What Microsoft is about to do, by contrast, emulates commercial television while improving convenience, by providing content for free but on an on-demand basis to consumers. The programming will be paid for by advertisement revenues rather than direct fees.
The effort will begin with three episodes of the Fox comedy Arrested Development, the AP report notes. This marks the first time the program has been made available online. Microsoft has acquired exclusive "portal syndication" rights to all 53 episodes of the program for three years.
Arrested Development was canceled at the end of the just-passed television season after three years. The G4 network will air the program on basic cable beginning this fall.