From the NY Times:
There was a lot of discussion online Friday about reports that Comcast and Time Warner are preparing a way to let their customers watch their cable programs on the Internet. Most of the reports characterized this as a way for the cable companies to defend themselves against the threat of Hulu, an online video service.
...What is very much unsettled, however, is how the cable-only networks will move online. Comcast alone writes $6 billion in checks to Viacom, Time Warner and other media companies. And in return those companies have kept most their best programs off the Internet.
Over time, one of two things will happen: Either the cable networks will have to learn to live on just advertising revenue or they will find a way to earn a subscription fee for distributing their programs online as well as on cable. (Just look at the newspaper industry to see what happens when companies used to two revenue streams have to find a future in only one.)
As a result, the cable companies have a great opportunity to take the lead in creating a subscription model for pay TV networks..
A Wired Blog on the WSJ article:
Comcast and Time Warner are in talks with major cable networks to provide their content online to subscribers, the Wall Street Journal is reporting (subscription necessary), citing people familiar with the discussions.
The talks involve Viacom, Time Warner NBC Universal, among others, the newspaper said. It would make programming from such networks as USA, TNT and MTV available as live streams to existing cable subscribers, but not to the general public. The programming would have ads and would be available remotely to subscribers without any additional charge.