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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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Amazon Unbox Video Player
By TomZ on 9/20/2007 2:43:52 PM , Rating: 1
Checking out the pilots offered by NBC via Amazon, it seems like this requires you to download and install Amazon's "Unbox" player. Does anyone know if this is absolutely required, or if NBC will also have a proprietary player as well?

Is is pretty annoying to have a separate player required for each content provider. Like anyone wants to install a dozen different media player apps.




RE: Amazon Unbox Video Player
By VoodooChicken on 9/20/2007 3:43:50 PM , Rating: 2
NBC went to Amazon for paid downloads (and the free pilots). They are working on a new system, as indicated in this article, for free temporary downloads of certain shows. It would have to be proprietary, but eventually you SHOULD be able to put it on various handhelds. I assume this would involve converting the file, or a subfile for portables would be included (Unbox does this for purchases, not rentals)


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