OK, we're not going to get a Hulu clone for a while, but Seven's announcement of plans to expand the range of content you can watch on its site means we're getting a lot closer to being able to watch a reasonable selection of programs online.
Right now, Seven's video page on Yahoo!7 features a bunch of clips and just a handful of shows you can actually watch in full. In January, however, it plans to ramp up the amount of 'catch-up' content available on its site to include a lot more programs. (It's also going to start inserting more mid-show advertising, but as we've pointed out before, this stuff doesn't pay for itself.
Seven's plans echo other tentative developments in this space, such as Foxtel Downloads and Nine's plans to stream more US shows. In this respect, the commercial networks are lagging behind the ABC's iView, which offers both access from non-PC devices and plenty of deals with ISPs so your monthly download allowances don't take a hit. Getting that to happen with commercial networks is, sadly, a lot less likely because of the byzantine negotiation processes involved with the sector.
Still, browser-based catch-up is still a useful solution, especially for the non-technically adept. This might not be the whole solution to how to fund Channel BT, but any move in this direction is welcome.