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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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One correction
By VoodooChicken on 9/20/2007 2:39:40 PM , Rating: 3
I believe it's been reported NBC wanted to charge UP TO $4.99 an episode, not $4.99 across the board. While $4.99 seems high to me, I do think different shows should charge different prices. Specifically, 22-minute shows shouldn't be the same price as 44-minute ones. Previous seasons shouldn't be the same price as the currently airing episodes (maybe 2 or 3 years back).
Often, I can walk into a store, or buy online, a DVD set, WITH special features, and it amounts to less than a dollar an ep. I only buy iTunes or Unboxes if I really want ONE ep and not the whole series (like Desperate Housewives' "Bang" or SG-1's "200th ep")




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