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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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Now who is right
By crystal clear on 9/20/2007 4:31:43 PM , Rating: 2
Once downloaded, the episodes would be viewable for one week.

But it should be the opposite-

the episodes from NBC Direct are not only ad-supported, but they expire within a week of the episode's original on-air date, not a week after download.

RE: Now who is right
By TomZ on 9/20/2007 4:42:00 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, I see that as a problem - one week is pretty short. It would be pretty easy to miss that window, and so people might continue to rely on Tivo and the like instead.

I also see in that article that NBC is preparing a Windows-only client. That tells me two more problems with this service, first is that it requires a proprietary client, and second is that other OS users are excluded. Each of these will also reduce number of users that actually use the service.

I'd say this NBC offering is pretty far from ideal. It's step in the right direction, but it still leaves a lot of opportunity for improvement.

RE: Now who is right
By Gul Westfale on 9/20/2007 10:47:37 PM , Rating: 1
mac users are mindless drones that do what jobs tells them (if they weren't then they wouldn't be mac users), and therefore they will stay with itunes. linux, while certainly becoming more and more accepted, is still a far way from the mainstream. so it makes commercial sense for them do develop for the one dominating platform first. if i were them i would probably be looking at consoles next before looking at another PC OS.

also, remember that they had a little fight with apple? maybe that is another reason why there is no mac client.

RE: Now who is right
By kelmon on 9/21/07, Rating: 0
"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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