Even though NBC showed off an iPad version of its site with awesome full-episode streaming of shows like The Office—and ABC and CBS are busy showing off their own iPad video—NBC's decided to block iPad streaming for now.
The decision apparently happened in the last couple of days, and while it seems strange on the surface—why promote iPad superpowers only to neuter them? And why retreat when they competition is going full bore with free iPad video? It's actually pretty logical: They want you to pay for TV on the iPad.
If the iPad's going to be your next TV—well, one of them—the last thing networks and studios want you to get used to is free TV. The economics of Hulu show why. Yes, Hulu's finally profitable, yes, but it's not pulling in money at a level that the networks are really happy with, and certainly nothing commensurate with actual broadcast revenues. They want more money. They need more money, if this is really the future of TV, because high quality TV like Mad Men or the Sopranos, well, it's expensive to produce—millions an episode. Which is why there's much talk about a Hulu subscription service, and why the so-close-you-can-taste-it iPad app would just be the start of new ways to make more money off of this new TV.
So, enjoy the free TV some are producing as an exuberant celebration and tech demo of a possibly new medium. It probably won't last, especially if it blows up. At the very least, get ready to watch a lot of ads that you won't be able to skip. [NYT]