Just a month after Apple announced its iTunes video downloads, internet monolith AOL has announced plans for a free online TV service in early 2006.
It's unclear whether or not the service will be available in the UK, but with Yahoo and Google also working on plans for internet services, it could be an important precedent for the forthcoming changes in TV distribution.
The service, which will be called In2TV and generate revenue from advertising, will feature around 4,800 episodes from Warner Brothers shows in its first year. The programmes will also be divided into six channels – comedy, drama, animation, action, classic and superhero/villain.
The amount of content is likely to balloon, with as many as 14,000 episodes available to be added to the service. These series will be broadcast in the apparently 'DVD quality' video format called 'AOL Hi-Q'.
AOL will also be exploiting the interactive potential of internet TV by offering extra features such as games, quizzes, polls and trivia contests.
If you're worried that online TV might target you with even more adverts than conventional TV, fear not – AOL added that video ads will be limited to 1-2 minutes in each 30 minute episode, compared to 8 minutes on broadcast TV.
Following Apple's new video downloads from its iTunes store, it all points to a revolution in the distribution and availability of TV content, which coincides nicely with the availability of high-def broadcasts next year. Oh yes, it's an exciting time for the gogglebox.
More information on the service can be found here.