August 15, 2006
Weeds Season Two Premiere on MSN Video

My wife just got finished watching the first seasons of Weeds, the successful Showtime sitcom starring Mary Louise Parker, and has now been converted as one of the show's many fans. One of the reason the program has gained so much mmentum entering into its second season is the grasp Showtime and the show's producers seem to have on cross-platform distribution.

News broke earlier today that the premiere episode of Weeds' second season will be made available through MSN Video for a full week after its initial airing on Showtime. According toDaisy Whitney with Television Week, the acquisition of the premiere episode of the popular series' new season is one of many bolstering tactics that MSN Video has engaged in over the past couple of months, including obtaining rights for all 53 episodes of the series-run of Arrested Development, the critically acclaimed FOX show that was cancelled last season. And the video distribution platform has also been streaming a full episode of CBS each week this summer.

With all the talk of Amazon launching its digital video distribution system, Google expanding its video services, FOX developing their new distribution system, AOL Video launching their system, all competing with the kingpin of video downloads in iTunes and the various network-specific distribution platforms that are croppoing up (such as TNT DramaVision), the options for distributing shows in the digital streaming and digital download medium is expanding on what is starting to feel like a daily basis.

For content providers, the possibilities are endless, and the network has every reason to make its show available to consumers in as many ways as possible. Of course, companies providing the downloading and streaming services have everything to gain from exclusivity contracts, which are fine in cases where they are readily available to all consumers but become a problem when they become gated under subscription fees, effectively blocking fans from consuming a product in digital form.

This current competition, though, seems to make everyone a winner, if the market is big enough to support this many distributors.

And this isn't the first time I've written about Weeds this summer. The Showtime program also garnered attention for its success on iTunes, followed by strong numbers in DVD sales. Some people had been skeptical about whether the show would do as well on DVD after so many people had downloaded it.