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NBC Joins ABC in Allowing Free Show Downloads

Illustration for article titled NBC Joins ABC in Allowing Free Show Downloads

NBC just announced free DRM'ed downloads of popular shows like Heroes, Conan, The Office, 30 Rock and the Bionic Woman that will last a week. Windows now, but upgrades such as Mac compatibility, HD, and portable player support coming soon. Full press release after the jump.


BURBANK, Calif. - September 19, 2007 - today announced the launch of its new service, "NBC Direct," which will allow users to download and view NBC's popular primetime and late-night entertainment programming on their desktops for up to one week after broadcast. This new feature provides yet another platform on which fans will be able to enjoy NBC Entertainment content. The announcement was made by Vivi Zigler, Executive Vice President, NBC Digital Entertainment.

"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 consumer their favorite entertainment," said Zigler. "Not only does this feature give them more control, but it also gives them a higher quality video experience."


The first version of this new feature, which will begin beta testing in October, will allow users to download full length episodes for viewing on Windows based PCs. Each original episode will be licensed to users for viewing through "NBC Direct" for one week following broadcast and will then expire. The downloaded file will provide users with an improved overall viewing experience compared to traditional streaming video. The list of programs available at launch will include "Heroes," "The Office," "Life," "Bionic Woman," "30 Rock," "Friday Night Lights," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Later in the beta launch, users will be provided the free subscription option that will allow them to pre-select their favorite NBC programs they want to watch. Those shows will be automatically delivered to their computers as soon as they are available after the original broadcast. The downloadable player will also have filtering technology, which will prevent it from playing any stolen copyrighted material.

Future versions of "NBC Direct," which will roll out over the next several months, will provide expanded platform functionality and will allow DRM ("digital rights management") protected versions of its programs to be downloaded to Macs and portable devices in addition to PCs. plans future enhancements such as high-resolution versions of programming made available via a closed P2P ("peer to peer") distribution network. Using closed P2P will ensure that the maximum number of users will be able to view consistent, high-quality content directly from their desktops. Later in 2008, plans to offer other business models for downloaded content in order to provide its users multiple options to consume their favorite NBC programs. These paid business models may include download-to-own, rental and subscription.

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This is a smart short-term and long-term move by NBC.

Short term, their corporate model is based on commercials, and the iTunes store is eliminating that. (Yes, they get bucks for selling the show, but they are decreasing the viewership for their sponsors, which ultimately undercuts how they do business.)

Long term, giving Apple control over the content is a mistake since no one knows what the next method of watching their shows will be. This puts them back in the drivers seat of control and can allow them to do whatever they want with it.

Overall, there appears to be a growing feeling that having content on the iTunes music store is not a fantastic idea since the only one making big bucks on this deal is Apple. Until Apple allows the content providers the freedom to control how, when, and where that content is distributed, it is highly likely that more and more of them will be leaving iTunes.