Eight years of episodes are available to viewers for free

In case you didn't hear about the news already, eight years worth of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart episodes are available for free on the show's official web site.  Users now have access to more than 13,000 episodes of fully embeddable show clips, allowing users to post them on blogs and web site forums.

“There are many many years of shows that haven’t been seen since the day they aired,” said Erik Flannigan, MTV Networks Entertainment Group vice president of digital technology.  “It’s not a show that would go on DVD and it’s not a show that would go into syndication, so it’s essentially been lost to history.

Even though full episodes are not available, the searchable system allows users to find clips by keyword tag or timeline dating back to 1996.  Users do have to put up with banner advertisements, video commercials and advertising messages, but it should be worth it for Stewart fans.

This is the first time I can remember any show deciding to offer all of its episodes online for no cost to the user.

The move by Viacom surprised journalists, especially since the company continues to be angry with YouTube offering clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report for free.  A similar content distribution system is being developed for The Colbert Report.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh
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