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TV Networks Missing the Internet Opportunity

Dow Jones reports on a puzzling story that leaves me wondering, why have the TV networks waited so long to place their own shows (or excerpts) on the web? It's as though the TV network executives are having the same kind of denial problem as their net-challenged music and film industry peers.

"Saturday Night Live" was the unlikely star of a recent spat over online piracy.

The show's rap parody, "Lazy Sunday," which expounded on the joys of watching "The Chronicles of Narnia" while eating cupcakes, became one of the most popular video snippets on the Internet, downloaded by millions of viewers. Soon after, another Saturday Night Live clip, this one featuring actress Natalie Portman in a profanity-laden rap, also gained a big online following.

The problem? The circulating clips were bootlegged. NBC Universal decided to put a stop to it by sending notices to Youtube.com, a video-sharing site that was hosting much of the traffic. But though Youtube.com complied, the problem hardly ends there.

The "Saturday Night Live" clips were just two out of more than 3,000 illegal files NBC has tried to remove from the Internet. Since the beginning of the year, NBC "has been engaged in the ongoing process of notifying viral video sites," said spokeswoman Julie Summersgill. In addition to Youtube, NBC also demanded that eight other sites take down pirated content.

"One of the reasons why media companies are now getting into broadband TV is to head off piracy," said Craig Leddy, a senior analyst at Points North Group. In other words, this is the excruciatingly slow approach that you take when you have too many lawyers, and not enough net-savvy marketing people.

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