Seinfeld on TBS.com: A Digital Distribution Case Study

At long last Seinfeld addicts can get their fix 24 hours a day, though on a limited basis. TBS.com will make available four DRM-protected episodes at a time on a rotating basis.

OK, this is a short case study. But an interesting one as Seinfeld has been about as valuable a TV property as there is. Sony Pictures Television has earned well over a billion dollars in revenue since the show entered syndication around the beginning of the internet boom, and the studio intentionally delayed release on a number of platforms beginning with DVD to prevent cannibalization.

Now several years after DVD they are being equally cautious with online, doing everything in their power to ensure online viewership is incremental and won’t hurt syndication. Alley Insider wonders why, but it makes a lot of sense. Mac penetration is under ten percent, and very few of those people are rabid enough to go hunting on Bittorrent for episodes they could get any night of the week on TBS.

Eventually, Sony Pictures and their syndication partners will surely offer greater access to Seinfeld online. But for now, for the 90% of users who can view content on the TBS website, rotating only four episodes at a time ensures that fans will have a new way to view content, will drive additional digital revenue for TBS.com and DVD sales for Sony Pictures TV.