writes "Debates about the profitability of "free" continue to rage, but at least one major media conglomerate — Viacom — is pushing forward with releasing paid-for content for free on the Internet, as reported in this NYT blog post. Of course, the prospect of free and easy full-length Daily Show episodes has caused some tension with cable providers, who pay a hefty premium for a heretofore-exclusive right to distribute the conglom's content (there are obvious parallels with the conflict between labels and musicians).
What strikes me as really interesting is that even an old, entrenched company like Viacom has enough vision to see the opportunity for increased profits through free distribution — provided they can control that distribution (see their YouTube lawsuit) and have discretion over just how free they go. And of course that there's an MSM outlet out there who gets this whole issue and is making it front-page (if blog) news. Of course, the NYT itself has had its own experience with expanding access to previously fee-based content..."Link to Original Source