The long-fragmenting world of mass media may finally have reached the stage of a la carte network television.
CBS, NBC and ABC now have all agreed to let viewers buy some of their top-rated shows an episode at a time.
Executives have long resisted efforts by cable operators to offer so-called on-demand viewing of popular TV shows, worrying that it could cannibalize their existing businesses by eroding their ability to sell advertising for programs and reap lucrative profits by selling reruns. But technology is forcing their hand. The Internet has encouraged widespread piracy of media content, and digital-video recorders have allowed users to save shows and watch them at their convenience without commercials.