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"Lost" character John Locke--now on AOL  (Source: ABC)
ABC tries to steal NBC's thunder with its own announcement.

As reported at DailyTech, NBC Universal announced this week that it would be launching a direct download service to allow viewers to download episodes of their TV shows free of charge.

The move followed ABC's initiative from last year to offer free primetime TV content available to download from its website. Now ABC appears to be attempting to steal a bit of NBC's press thunder with an announcement of its own. 

ABC will be offering its prime time content on AOL Video. The shows will be paid for with embedded advertisements, like NBC's shows.

ABC is owned by Walt Disney and AOL is owned by Time Warner, so the move marks a major collaboration between the two media giants.

Otherwise, the main impact appears to be that ABC will be the first network to give viewers the choice to either download TV content or view it online at AOL Video, both for free.  This may be useful in cases where viewers can't download videos due to filtering or in older machines where hard drive space is scarce (though that is less likely with today's massive hard drives).

Among the shows ABC will be showing on AOL Video are "Lost" and "Grey's Anatomy".  New shows will be added for the fall TV season.

Four episodes per show will usually be online at once and older episodes will be removed after a set number of days.

The move follows a wave of free, which besides NBC's announcement includes SpiralFrog's free music download service and The New York Times'opening of their archives and select columns.

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By Verran on 9/21/2007 2:00:37 PM , Rating: 5
AOL still exists?!

RE: wow
By cciesquare on 9/21/2007 2:13:58 PM , Rating: 2
What's AOL?

RE: wow
By nerdye on 9/21/2007 2:28:23 PM , Rating: 5
What's AOL?

Check half the landfills in the Unites States, you find mostly free "AOL" installation cds. AOL is a garbage manufacturer.

RE: wow
By Oregonian2 on 9/21/2007 2:46:14 PM , Rating: 3
Hey! They were my floppy supplier back when floppies were still useful. Didn't have to buy one for quite a few years (when they were still being used).

RE: wow
By darkpaw on 9/21/2007 3:28:55 PM , Rating: 2
No kidding. Friend of mine worked at EB back then. He'd always be bringing home 50 packs of AOL disks they were supposed to hand out to customers.

Free floppies for everyone!

Once they switched to CDs, we only had free frisbees unfortunately.

RE: wow
By marvdmartian on 9/21/2007 3:18:14 PM , Rating: 2

ABC and AOHELL.....gee, there's a winning combination! [/sarcasm]

RE: wow
By Gul Westfale on 9/21/2007 10:14:36 PM , Rating: 2
i see what you mean... how many of those retarded disks did i have? you know the ones that came with every magazine? they even handed them out for free at a local bank back in the day... talk about desperate.

it's a good thing that more networks are following NBC's lead here, but doing it with AOL means that there is going to be some inherent suckiness here. maybe they will make you install some old netscape in order to watch? or maybe you must enter your address during sign-up and then they will mail more of those idiotic CDs to you... i think i will use my neighbor's address.

take that apple!
By nerdye on 9/21/2007 2:22:36 PM , Rating: 2
Apple was unable/unwilling to satisfy nbc to keep their content on their download services. Now abc has followed with making their content free as well, this can only be good for the consumer and bad for the likes of apple that will charge you per episode/movie/song, ect. =)

RE: take that apple!
By Oregonian2 on 9/21/2007 2:47:52 PM , Rating: 2
I suspect that the Apple versions didn't have embedded un-skippable commercials in them though (and didn't expire after a week).

RE: take that apple!
By JasonMick on 9/21/2007 3:56:47 PM , Rating: 2

Buying episodes from iTunes or Unbox(in the case of NBC) is like buying the season on DVD.

The episode is yours to watch keep and transfer for as long as you want. Also, there are no ads typically, and sometimes extra content is offered.

Of and iTunes, Unbox is slightly more flexible in that they will allow NBC to offer free pilot episodes to promote their shows. To my knowledge nothing is free at iTunes (however the price will likely be slightly lower per episode, so I suppose this balances it out).

RE: take that apple!
By Hacp on 9/21/2007 7:06:36 PM , Rating: 2
Huh? Didn't they announce a free episode of Prison Break from Itunes?

RE: take that apple!
By tmp8000 on 9/21/2007 5:50:28 PM , Rating: 3
If you think this move by ABC is to compete with iTunes or eventually move away you're crazy. Not because it's a bad idea, but because ABC is owned by Disney and the majority shareholder (or whatever) of Disney is none other than Steve Jobs.

RE: take that apple!
By afkrotch on 9/22/2007 12:27:59 AM , Rating: 2
Being majority shareholder and being in control of Disney are two very seperate things. All he's really got at Disney is stocks and a seat at their board.

By softwiz on 9/21/2007 2:28:05 PM , Rating: 2
At least because of this, it has a chance in hell of being successful. ;)

By TomZ on 9/21/2007 4:18:44 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, my hat is off to anyone who can still be collecting $24/month for dial-up Internet service as AOL does!

By crystal clear on 9/22/2007 3:05:52 PM , Rating: 2
Hi there,

Something interesting for you-could not respond earlier due to Yom Kippur.

As the expiration date on the 1998 Internet tax ban draws near, pressure is on the Senate to compromise over just how long it will be extended. If the moratorium is not extended, prices for Internet service nationwide could jump—as high as 17 percent, some ISPs claim—once November 1 rolls around.

Related StoriesGaming symposium discusses taxation in virtual worlds
"In a little over a month, Americans will be forced to pay more to access the Internet, receive e-mails on their BlackBerries and use the Internet on their cell phones if the Democratic leadership refuses to allow the Senate to debate and pass this legislation," Senator John McCain (R-AZ) proclaimed during hearings yesterday. McCain is co-sponsor of a version of the bill that would make the moratorium permanent. There is another version, the Internet Tax Freedom Extension Act of 2007, sponsored by Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), that would extend the ban until October of 2011.

The ban was originally instituted in 1998 and prohibited local and state governments from collecting tax on various types of Internet connection services (ISPs, etc.). This was done out of concern that a tax on Internet connections, particularly broadband, would significantly slow its adoption rate in the US and keep certain citizens disconnected for good. The moratorium was extended in 2004 for three more years; that act represented a compromise between those who wanted to extend it permanently and those who wanted a shorter extension. At that time, however, taxes on VoIP services were approved due to growing concern over losing tax revenue from Internet-based phone services.

Naturally, ISPs favor a more permanent ban, as lower fees paid to the government would mean broader adoption and hence greater revenues. In May, Verizon VP of State Tax Policy Annabelle Canning testified in favor of a permanent ban: "At a time when state and local economic development experts are touting broadband as critical to economic competitiveness, new taxes on Internet access could have a chilling effect on broadband investment," said Canning. The National Governors Association, on the other hand, favors a shorter extension along with a clause that would grandfather in states that had already been allowed to collect Internet taxes in 1998—without such a clause, the Association argues that those states will lose up to $120 million per year in tax revenues under McCain's proposal.

At this point, the deadline is only several weeks away and things look to be moving in the same direction as they were in 2004. No one could agree on whether to extend the moratorium permanently or temporarily, so they did so temporarily. We get the feeling that such a "compromise" will happen this time around as well, and Congress will have to deal with the argument all over again in four years.

Way to go, NBC!
By therealnickdanger on 9/21/2007 1:57:52 PM , Rating: 2
I don't watch much network television, but this is fanatastic news for the future digital content. It's free to watch on TV, it should be free online. I'm glad they're waking up to this.

By thejez on 9/21/2007 2:20:47 PM , Rating: 2
putting the phrase "via AOL" in your press release isnt going to steal anyone's thunder... LOL what a joke!

Is it just me...
By nekobawt on 9/21/2007 6:11:53 PM , Rating: 2
...or should the article's title read "Not to be outdone by NBC..." etc?

What's next, CBS shows via Netscape?

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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