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Pam and Karen; soon to be available for free from NBC Direct
NBC Universal will make its TV shows available for download for free

Regular readers of DailyTech should already be well abreast of NBC Universal's recent rift with online multimedia juggernaut Apple. NBC Universal butted heads with Apple over pricing for its TV shows on iTunes – NBC Universal wanted to up prices to $4.99 per episode while Apple wanted to stick to its $1.99 model.

NBC Universal publicly aired its grievances with Apple; Apple in turn decided to prematurely boot NBC Universal programming from iTunes.

NBC Universal saved face somewhat by shuttling its programming over to Amazon’s Unbox service. Amazon was more flexible in pricing than Apple which was music to NBC Universal’s ears. With Unbox, NBC Universal has more control over episode pricing, can offer discounts to consumers who purchase an entire season of a show and offer free downloads of show pilots.

According to The New York Times, NBC Universal isn’t stopping there. The media conglomerate will offer a new online service called NBC Direct. With NBC Direct, customers will be able to download TV shows to a Windows-based PC for free immediately after they have aired. Once downloaded, the episodes expire one week after the original air date.

While the episodes are free, there is one tiny catch: commercials will be embedded into the shows and cannot be skipped over.

NBC Universal hopes to eventually pit its NBC Direct service directly against iTunes. "With the creation of this new service, we are acknowledging that now, more than ever, viewers want to be in control of how, when and where they consume their favorite entertainment," remarked NBC Digital Entertainment executive VP Vivi Zigler. "Not only does this feature give them more control, but it also gives them a higher quality video experience."

NBC Universal’s move will effectively cut out the middleman says NBC Digital Entertainment president Jeff Gaspin.

NBC Direct will begin a trial period next month and should be fully operational in November.



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It's a start
By jak3676 on 9/20/2007 1:43:14 PM , Rating: 5
This is where we need that quote that a lot of people pay nothing for ____ and that's what its worth.

Sounds like a good option for those people who miss an epasode and want to catch up on it later. This only gives more people access to those of us with a DVR or Tivo have had for a long time - minus the ability to cut out commercials. Might as well make this service free.

Maybe NBC will start something.




RE: It's a start
By MatthewAC on 9/20/2007 2:03:12 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know about everyone else, but I love commercials and advertisement.

It allows the person wanting to be entertained to get their content cheaper/free for a mere 30 seconds most of the time.
I don't have DVR and I barely watch my tv except for my favorite shows so this is particularly appealing to me :).


RE: It's a start
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 9/20/2007 2:08:38 PM , Rating: 3
I won't say that I "LOVE" commercials, but I certainly don't mind them. When I'm watching Heroes on Monday nights, the commercials give me a chance to go make a quick trip to the restroom, or go get a quick snack/drink, or geekishly run over to my computer to type out "OMGWTFBBQ, did you just see Sylar jack up Peter against the wall?"

I can basically tune out commercials that annoy me (just about any car commercial), but the rest aren't that big of a deal.

And if it's legal and free, I'm not gonna complain.


RE: It's a start
By Ringold on 9/20/2007 2:19:49 PM , Rating: 2
I totally agree. I like to watch Eureka, for example, on SciFi, but almost always busy when it's showing and my DVR is only so convenient; I prefer watching on my computer, as I can do other things on the side. Same goes for Mad Money; usually off at dinner.

If the resolution is equivalent to what is available by illicit means (HD even better!), I'll be a big fan of this approach. I don't mind the 1 week restriction either; 95% of shows I watch once and then clear the HD anyway. Let the commercials flow!


RE: It's a start
By Scorpion on 9/20/2007 2:21:34 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
I won't say that I "LOVE" commercials, but I certainly don't mind them. When I'm watching Heroes on Monday nights, the commercials give me a chance to go make a quick trip to the restroom, or go get a quick snack/drink, or geekishly run over to my computer to type out "OMGWTFBBQ, did you just see Sylar jack up Peter against the wall?"


Controls that allow you pause the show and advance past commercials can also give you the same benefits, minus the commercials.

quote:
"With the creation of this new service, we are acknowledging that now, more than ever, viewers want to be in control of how, when and where they consume their favorite entertainment," remarked NBC Digital Entertainment executive VP Vivi Zigler. "Not only does this feature give them more control, but it also gives them a higher quality video experience."


More control? hmmm. How is forcing you to watch commercials "more control"? Sure, it allows the shows to be free, but I think I'd rather pay a small fee, like iTunes $1.99 for commercial free quality programming. Something also tells me that the "how, when, and where" aspect of control will also be grossly exagerated. Hey, but if they say it, I must believe it right?


RE: It's a start
By timmiser on 9/21/2007 2:56:29 PM , Rating: 2
There are two kinds of people in this world:

1. Those who don't have a DVR and honestly believe that they are "OK" with commercials because they don't annoy them or they think it allows them to get a snack or use the restroom and just put up with it... blah blah blah.

2. Those that have a DVR and know better.


RE: It's a start
By Hydrofirex on 9/20/2007 6:56:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
or geekishly run over to my computer to type out "OMGWTFBBQ, did you just see Sylar jack up Peter against the wall?"


I thought I was the only dork who did that... something that started with Battle Star Gallactiga. "OMFG Baltar just boned BOTH cylons!" I love heroes, but it's a bit shy of the awesomeness that is BSG.

HfX


RE: It's a start
By FITCamaro on 9/20/2007 2:04:43 PM , Rating: 2
This is awesome. I have a DVR but I honestly rarely skip commercials because I'm normally not just sitting there watching TV.

My question is what will be the quality of the episodes? If its near DVD quality, that'd be great.

They're not the first to offer this though since ABC has had this for some of their shows for about a year. You don't download it though, just stream it. And the quality isn't extremely high but its not bad. You wouldn't want to watch it on a big TV though.


RE: It's a start
By Misty Dingos on 9/20/2007 2:21:35 PM , Rating: 2
Been here done that. I have used this feature from NBC. It promises to be a nice way to get some TV. Personaly I downloaded and watched the pilot for the Bionic Woman as I thought with the guys from Battlestar Gallactica behind the camera it was going to be good. Well they may want to rethink that whole BG ending finale at the end of the season. Because I don't think that the Bionic Woman paychecks are going to fill many bellies. I am not saying there is no hope but at this point. But giving it away may be the only way to get someone to watch it. It is 42 minutes in the downloaded form. 42 minutes that I can not get back. Not nearly as good as BG, not as edgy, not as thought through and not as well acted.

And a DVR is the only way to watch TV. Don't watch any commercial I don't want to.


RE: It's a start
By Gul Westfale on 9/20/2007 10:44:05 PM , Rating: 2
so this is basically just like watching TV- you get to watch the show, they get to show you some commercials. i have wondered why they didn't do this before; i myself don't have a TV anymore, and while i am usually glad that i gave up on it i do miss shows like house and south park (i already have most trek on dvd so idon't miss that lol).

i know that there are certain ways that one can use to "obtain" content, but NBC's concept makes it nice and legal. let's hope the DL speeds will be fast, and that the image/sound quality will be good.


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