Since the rise of BitTorrent, peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing, and live video streaming sites, broadcasting companies have been fighting against consumers who download content illegally on the web.
For consumers, P2P sharing, BitTorrents and on demand video streaming provide the flexibility of being able to consume their favorite TV shows at a time that is compatible with their busy schedules.
According to a 2009 study conducted by German-based bandwidth management company Ipoque, the transfer of BitTorrent files made up an estimated 27 to 55 percent of all internet traffic in 2009.
While broadcasting companies and TV networks have been warring against downloaders, a number of series creators and show producers have started to embrace web-based content delivery.
The trend has seen a number of TV series skip the networks in favor of creating a large online fan base of committed viewers.
A new Gothic thriller series called Tunla is set for an exclusive online release this fall. The science-fiction, supernatural horror show will be based around a five season story-arc and will only be available on the web, said the show's creators on June 29.
"A web series offers the multimedia artist unprecedented opportunities to present their vision to a large audience, without fear of cancellation," says executive producer and series co-creator Kevin Joiner.
"There are no timeslots on the internet and your only limits are your imagination, your ability to pay for the project and the talent you surround yourself with."
The show's creators are self-described "regular guys" hoping to change the face of web TV. Joiner and Tunla co-executive producer/director Stephen Boatright want their series to exhibit a "production value that rivals anything on broadcast television."
Not all of the people working on Tunla are regular guys. The show will feature costumes made by Tony Award-winning designer Franne Lee and showcase guest performances by well-known recording artists like Everlife.
Web-based TV channels have also started to spring up across the world.
On June 28 technology blog TechCrunch announced the launch of their TechCrunch TV station. TechCrunch TV is an online channel "packed with some of the most recognizable and inspiring faces in tech."
The service will start as a limited beta with around 40 minutes of original programming per day. In addition, all of the video content will be available on demand as fully embeddable and sharable content.
The advent of web-based TV services such as Hulu, on demand video rental services like Amazon, and services that blur the line between the web and the TV (such as the forthcoming Google TV) are pushing TV into the next generation - a generation of TV service that appeases consumers with content that is available when and how they want it.
According to a June 21 article by Mashable, the top 10 most watched web series in May 2010 were:
1. The Annoying Orange
2. Key of Awesome
3. Happy Tree Friends
6. The Station
7. Charlie the Unicorn
8. Potter Puppet Pals
9. Jake & Amir
10. Hardly Workin
Want to get hooked on a web-based TV series? Here are a few for you to choose from:
Mashable's list of top 10 web series for May: http://mashable.com/2010/06/21/top-10-web-series-may/
Switched's selection of the best web only TV series: http://www.switched.com/2009/02/18/the-best-web-only-tv-series/
Jeff's Guide to TV shows only available on the internet: http://pulverblog.pulver.com/archives/005282.html
Afterworld TV: http://www.youtube.com/afterworldtv
Space Is Dum: http://sid.lardpirates.com/
Want to cancel your cable subscription and stick to online TV? Here are a few helpful online TV networks and resources: