Thus far, online films have been hampered by slow connections, but with broadband set to infiltrate 20 percent of homes by 2002, sites showing short films and animations are popping up all over the Web. You can expect to see widespread distribution of full-length features someday, but only after all the kinks are worked out.
"For the foreseeable future, short is the way it's going to go because of bandwidth and compression constraints," says Sinnreich. "It also has to do with consumer psychology. The cliche at this point is the computer is a lean-forward device, whereas the TV is a lean-back device-although clearly improvements in technology will change that core psychology."
Films are currently being shown for free, but revenue ideas in place and in the works include subscription services, pay-per-view opportunities, downloading fees, using e-commerce to sell video compilations and merchandise, offline distribution and advertising.