Heck, yeah. Finally some TV studios are getting the point.

ABC launches free online streaming TV shows. [via Gizmodo]

Here’s ABC’s entry page for streaming episodes. Right now they’ve got Lost, Desperate Housewives, Alias, and Commander in Chief available. I flipped through a little…looks like they’ve got all the S5 Alias episodes, the last three Desperate Housewives, and just the latest Lost. I wonder if they’ll tend to move toward having them all available, or just the latest one? If it were me, my model would be to have the latest episode available for free streaming for a week, and then charge a fee to watch earlier ones…perhaps $0.99 to stream an episode and $1.99 to download it (without commercials of course). That would keep with the current iTunes/GoogleVideo price point, but also have a cheaper option for one-time viewing.

They do have commercials, but they’re much shorter…the video loads in sections, and you can seek back and forth within a section as much as you want. To move to the next section, there’s a commercial. The episode I watched had a 30-second Ford commercial between the sections. That’s it. One commercial. And it was interactive, with a video, or a photo gallery…in other words, a more interesting commercial experience than TV. Once you get through the commercial, you can then seek anywhere in the video up through that point (i.e., the first section AND the second section). You can also pause the video, and choose from two screen sizes, neither of which is complete full-screen, disappointingly, but since my wireless cable connection couldn’t handle the larger size smoothly as it was, perhaps that’s not all bad–the screen around the video is very dark, so it’s not distracting at all to watch.

Three cheers for ABC for moving in the right direction with internet dispersal of TV. This sort of thing is what’s going to counter downloading, not GoogleVideo’s $1.99 for a one-day stream, or iTunes’ $1.99 for video only worth watching on iPods. TV is free on TV, it should be free on the internet. And honestly, the commercials they have here are appropriate (assuming they’re all like the one I saw). They’re short, they’re interactive, they have a timer so you know how long they last. I have no problem with this.

Currently, it’s only available in the U.S. That’s gonna be the next hurdle the studios have to figure out. The internet doesn’t have geopolitical borders, and content providers have to start recognizing that and modifying how they distibute things accordingly. But yeah. Good on ABC for pushing the envelope further than it’s yet been pushed. Who’ll be next?