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Should Turner Classic Movies Stream Online?

Think of what these movies have in common: The Bad and the Beautiful, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Anatomy of a Murder, Roman Holiday, Birdman of Alcatraz, and The Birds. They're all classics, sure, but they're also all on Turner Classic Movies. This Thursday. That's a hell of a line-up. But what if you've already got your TiVo working overtime and can't catch up on the ol' black and whites?

Warner Bros. recently announced that you can order factory direct DVDs or streaming video of some of the hard-to-find films from its archives, with the ultimate goal to make available each of the 6,800 titles in the studio vaults. It's a bold move and one with an eye on the future, both in terms of embracing new technology and cutting out the middleman to make the movies seemingly easier to acquire.

I'm certain other studios will slowly follow suit, but even if they don't, there are options out there for fans of classic movies to get their fix, like this site that lets you download public domain movies from the studio era.

Isn't it time Turner Classic Movies does the same thing? Just think if you could stream their content if you're stuck in an airport, like Dr. No and From Russia with Love this Friday night, or perhaps even better, Evil Dead 2 and Antonioni's Blow-Up back-to-back overnight on Saturday?

And that's just the option of streaming their programming as it airs. Imagine the possibilities if you could watch anything in the network's massive catalog whenever you wanted. Would you pay a monthly fee of $5 or something to watch some old Hitchcock or Billy Wilder movies? Especially when the network rolls out lists like its recent 15 Most Influential Classic Movies, having them accessible online only gives TCM's already terrific programming that much more relevance.

It's true that you can watch video on the TCM website, but it's primarily old trailers and movie clips from each month's programming. There is one feature film available in April, the 1937 Oscar nominee Topper. I'm sure there are legal and financial considerations with streaming most of these movies online, although Ted Turner owns a healthy chunk of the films, anyway, so that seems like a one-time hurdle to jump just to establish precedent. Perhaps the network could one day offer downloads as an alternative to its DVD sales.

It boils down to this: TCM is unquestionably the best movie channel on TV and it already monetizes its website through subscriptions and DVD sales. So isn't the next logical step to give its audience more access to the wonderful history of cinema it works so hard to promote and preserve?

Reader Comments (24)

I would love this idea! I have always been a great fan of TCM.

Monday, April 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSue

I can't wait hurry hurry would love it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersabrina

Lets do it TCM

Sunday, May 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPhillip

I really hope they do this - I love TCM but no longer have satellite to watch it. PLEASE allow the fans to watch their old favorites online - especially all of The Lone Wolf movies. THANKS!

Friday, May 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

I'd like to see TCM as an add-on for Netflix. I no longer have Cable or Satellite, but it would be nice to get the Backstory and introductions to the old films by Robert Osbourne. I'd pay an extra couple of bucks a month for a TCM add-on to Netflix.

Monday, June 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercaltex1nomad

I - watch tv onlinealot, lol some of my favorites are youtube. What are places
can I watch tv online.

Is it legal for me to have explained here?, and bank accounts? How to start? Can I move my existing business offshore


Wednesday, August 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbuffrippimb

In a word: YES!
In another word: PLEASE.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLawrence Barlow

TW Cable TV basic is NOW $60.00 a month in our market. I can't afford it and Internet too so I'll just settle for the web instead of TV BUT I'LL SURE MISS watching TCM.

So the online version of TCM will come just in time for me!!

Friday, January 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

TW Cable TV basic is NOW $60.00 a month in our market. I can't afford it and Internet too so I'll just settle for the web instead of TV BUT I'LL SURE MISS watching TCM.

So the online version of TCM will come just in time for me!!

Friday, January 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

I totally agree - online streaming for TCM is the logical way to go, and I'll happily cough up for the privilege. It'll be a fraction of what Comcast has been soaking me for, for YEARS!

Sunday, February 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

I agree I just down graded my satelite package and lost TCM. This sucks!!

Friday, April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarrio Slim

Your blog is so informative � ..I just bookmarked you�.keep up the good work!!!!

Hey, I found your blog in a new directory of blogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, anyway cool blog, I bookmarked you. :)

Again...keep up the good work and I will look foward to seeing what you come up with!

Saturday, April 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStacey@ Getting Pregnant

Just wanted to join the chorus. Nothing on satellite was worth paying the monthly fee EXCEPT TCM. So I dropped it. I miss TCM so badly! I would GLADLY pay $5 a month to get streaming access to their catalog.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermike

Ditto, have basic cable now due to the hig cost and missing TCM so much. Wish I could watch on-line.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWWW

I'm sure there are serious licensing issues and all, but if TCM could work it out, they are one of the FEW cable channels I would pay a monthly fee to watch a streaming version. I would dump cable in a minute with access to TCM and ESPN. Everything else that I'm interested in, I can get via Hulu or (cough, cough). Turner Classic Movies would be a HUGE hit streaming online with, I'm sure, plenty of paying customers.

Thursday, June 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermike

I would also pay a monthly fee for Turner Classic Movies streaming. I am ready to drop cable. HDTV costs a fortune and Premium channels are designed for teenagers. Please make it soon.

Monday, July 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFred Rands

The only reason I subscribe to dish network is to get Turner Classic Movies. I set my channel to TCM and leave it there. Only on occasion do I watch anything else. If TCM was available online I would absolutely subscribe.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJack L

My campus cable service doesn't include TCM... I've been dying here ever since I moved in... please offer live streaming TCM!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteradam

Five bucks? If I could stream Turner (and maybe even zip it over to my television with Apple TV or something), I'd pay twenty!!!

Good-bye to greedy bloodsucker cable and satellite companies who I only patronize right now so I can get Turner. Almost everything else I watch can be found online. And since Turner is never in the basic package, even blowing twenty bucks a month on Turner alone is preferable to sixty or more for Turner and 100s of channels I never watch.

Thursday, October 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Burton smith

I subscribed to the most expensive cable package just so I could get TCM. If I could get it via streaming video, I would happily shell out $20 monthly. The only other channel worth watching is PBS!

Thursday, February 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

Of the multitude of channels I get with my Rogers cable , I watch only 4 channels . TCM is one of them . If I could stream TCM online it would get me one step closer to dumping Rogers . It cost too much for what I want .

Saturday, July 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJimmy

Please stream TCM. I can only afford basic cable but have a DVR with streaming capabilities. I am tired of Netflix and their collection of what they call "classic movies", although their price for streaming is very reasonable.. Let's make streaming possible with TCM and I am sure you will see your "missed audience" immediately and become more profitable because of the new viewers..

Monday, November 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

I pay 86.00 a month, for my stations now, that's without HD....I have to have the premium package in order to get TCM which I can't do without. It's the only one I watch really. But it's getting TOO costly. If TCM allowed us to pay for them via a monthly service, I could cut my bill in half, and get TCM.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAl

is there an update on this wonderful and much-needed service? count me in

Saturday, January 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrandy

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