The psychology behind television viewing has always proved elusive. Some derogatorily call television the 'idiot box'. Others, like the late British playwright Dennis Potter, think it's a great way to force ideas into people's living rooms. For some, television's a comforting presence in the background; for others, it's a noisy disturbance. Whichever way, the viewer's relationship to TV is complex. That's probably why most plans to take television to the internet have fallen short. A recent survey in USA Today (usatoday.com) revealed that only 3 per cent of viewers follow their favourite television series online. Those who do tend to use the internet to catch up on episodes they've missed, or watch repeats. 'What we've seen is that online is additive to viewing,' ABC network's research chief Charles Kennedy says. 'The vast majority says, 'I wanted to catch up and I forgot to record it, or I wasn't home.'' That hasn't stopped television companies from fishing for new viewers online. British broadcasters recently joined British Telecom to trumpet the launch of YouView, which, according to Hollywood Reporter (hollywoodreporter.com), 'aims to bring internet-enabled television to consumers as a mass market product'. Details are not clear, but the service will use a set-top box instead of a computer. Viewers will be able to connect directly with BBC iPlayer and itv.com, the website of the other major British broadcaster. In the US, although some shows are broadcast simultaneously on the net and the small screen, streaming on the Web is usually used for repeats. NBC ( www.nbc.com ) and ABC ( www.abc.com ) have online libraries of past shows for viewing. One reason that new episodes are kept off the internet is that US television executives prefer them to be watched on a television set - because much more advertisement revenue comes from television than the Web. Some executives have embraced the idea of internet TV, but others are scared it will wreak havoc on their advertisement sales. As for viewer aversion to watching television shows on a computer, that could be down to home geography. The TV often has pride of place in the living room, whereas the computer is likely to be squirreled away in the home office. The new Apple TV box (apple.com/appletv), which streams selected content from the Web direct to television sets, may change all that. In the US, Apple has a deal with Netflix to stream movies via the Apple TV. Only two networks have agreed to distribute programmes via the service. Apple plans to charge viewers 99 US cents per TV programme. It remains to be seen if viewers will pay for shows they usually see for free. It looks like the humble TV set will still be with us for some time.