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Television Media The Internet

NBC to Offer Free Video Download Service 229

Posted by samzenpus
from the must-see-internet-tv dept.
Damocles the Elder writes "Apparently NBC realized that people on the internet do watch TV, because after breaking up with Apple over iTunes pricing schemes, they're setting up their own free service." From the article "NBC first contracted with Amazon to offer its programs for sale to downloading devices like MP3 players. Now it is establishing its own downloading service, which NBC executives say they expect to become a viable competitor to 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," said Vivi Zigler, the executive vice president of NBC Digital Entertainment. "Not only does this feature give them more control, but it also gives them a higher quality video experience."
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NBC to Offer Free Video Download Service

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  • Wait for comcast! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gravos (912628) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:02AM (#20679069) Homepage
    Cue Comcast and other ISPs complaining that NBC is taking advantage of the bandwidth they provide and should be forced to pay in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...
    • by faloi (738831)
      I don't think they'll care. Most Comcast broadband subscribers are also paying for the cable service. This isn't much different than the " on demand" service that some cable providers already offer.
    • by gravos (912628)
      I don't think they'll care. Most Comcast broadband subscribers are also paying for the cable service. This isn't much different than the " on demand" service that some cable providers already offer.

      You may be right, but consider this: ISP's complain iPlayer uses too much bandwith. [iptv-watch.co.uk] I expect this to be a growing point of contention between media companies and ISPs as more and more video content moves online.
    • by fymidos (512362)
      ISPs should be happy that more content is made available on the internet. More people online, more money and power to them...
      • by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:44AM (#20679329) Homepage
        I'm currently on what I call "low-speed high-speed". It's the 1 Mbit down, 125 Kbit up service that my ISP offers. If there was a good legal place to download tv shows for free, then I would probably get the 6 Mbit service that they offer. As it stands right now, I only browse the web, download music from eMusic, and download a Linux DVD ISO once or twice a year. If there was more content available on the web, I would probably sign up for the fastest package they had. But as for now, most of the stuff I do, even videos like Apple Movie Trailers play just fine over my 1 Mbit connection. You would think that bringing richer content to the web would make the ISPs happier, as there's more people paying for higher service levels. However, I'm not sure if it really helps them, as they have pretty much built their business model on selling 6 Mbit connections to people who do nothing more than browse the web and check their email.
      • by steveo777 (183629)
        Wrong... The more people online, the more likely they'll be forced to upgrade their equipment to handle the load. Okay, I'm being cynical, but I've had a LOT of bad experiences with every cable provider. Either municipal monopoly abuse (Comcast), or the bottom-of-the-barrel, shittiest customer service on the face of the planet (Qwest) for lower price. It's a lose-lose for everybody!!
    • not free (Score:5, Informative)

      by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @08:26AM (#20679667)
      Also notice that the service only free till "mid 2008". And It also has commercials. The videos dont come out till a week after airing and expire 7 days after you download them. Finally what can we expect for the "real" price in 2008. Well some details have emerged on the price NBC wanted apple to charge. You may recall the price they wanted apple to charge was said to be $4.99 but NBC denied this vehemently. Well it turns out what they wanted was to force apple to purchase bundles of shows. SO to get a popular show like Heros apple would have to buy one episode of heros and 2 episodes of some re-run. The equivalent price of those 3 shows was 4.99. But apple could only charge 2.99 for the Hero's. This would have left apple with a net loss for all the re-runs it could not off load to other customers for 99 cents.
  • by Goose In Orbit (199293) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:04AM (#20679079)
    ...that MP3 players can now play videos
    • by mwvdlee (775178)
      They have always done so.
      As long as your video is a red screen continuously blinking, playing it will display it on the LED.
  • Yeah, whatever... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by technothrasher (689062) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:06AM (#20679091)
    "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,"

    ...

    Commercials will be embedded in the programs and viewers will not be able to skip through them.


    • by speaker of the truth (1112181) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:24AM (#20679183)
      Commercials will be embedded, just like on television. Either tape it off your television or wait for the commercial to finish. Or wait for it to be released on DVD and buy it. Yeeesh, some of you people just don't want your content producers to make money, do you?
      • Yeeesh, some of you people just don't want your content producers to make money, do you?

        I don't really care if they make money or not. I don't watch anything NBC has to offer anyway. My point was solely that they shouldn't claim to be acknowledging that the viewers should watch the way the want to watch, and then put restrictions on how those viewers can watch. It's hypocritical.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DerWulf (782458)
          Actually he was refering to the fact that this model is not scheduled. By far the larger restriction of television is the fact that you can only watch it when it's on (or after, assuming you've prgrammed your vcr). So I'd say this model still grants a large amount of freedom (in comparision.).
          • Actually he was refering to the fact that this model is not scheduled

            If he'd not included the "how" I'd agree with you. But he says, "control of how, when and where".
      • Re:Yeah, whatever... (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:34AM (#20679253) Journal
        I don't mind the producers making money, but they won't make any from me unless they sell me the product I want. For downloaded video, it has to be more convenient than renting the DVD. This means:
        • Quick access. What I want, when I want it.
        • No adverts. Adverts are the reason I stopped watching broadcast television.
        • No DRM. Part of the convenience means allowing it to be played on portable devices. Unless your DRM supports Mac, iPod and Nokia devices, (and will support all future devices I might buy) it makes the content less valuable to me.
        • No region restrictions.
        I would love to pay a (reasonable) flat rate, in advance, for seasons of TV shows I want to watch, and have them automatically downloaded every week, but this seems not to be something the studios want to sell me. Until then, I'll stick to renting DVDs, typically some years after the shows have been created.
        • by Aladrin (926209)
          I agree with 3 of those... The adverts... I don't care so much. I understand they need to make money somehow, and as long as it's DRM-free I'll be able to fast-forward past the ones that drive me nuts.

          As for 'quick access'... I typically download an episode (not from NBC yet, obviously) faster than I'd be able to drive to Blockbuster and back, even if you don't count the time it takes in the store. I don't see that they'll have a problem with 'quick access'.
        • by jedidiah (1196)
          Even video with adverts and no DRM would be acceptable. The product needs to be equal or better than what you can get "for free" over the air. The download should be no less onerous or lame than the video file you could extract from Tivo or MythTV.

          Adverts without DRM would snare the clueless. They would watch the adverts and prop up the old school television model while the rest of us would be free to fast forward through them or strip them.

          The media moguls have to realize that most people aren't tech saavy
          • Re:Yeah, whatever... (Score:5, Informative)

            by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @10:41AM (#20681693) Journal

            The product needs to be equal or better than what you can get "for free" over the air.
            A few years ago, I'd have agreed with you. About five or six years ago, my father stopped owning a TV, and I thought this was really odd. At the end of the month, our TV license expires and we're not planning on renewing it, and quite a few of my friends have also ditched the TV. It's still by no means a majority who have no TV, but it's no longer regarded as particularly unusual.

            Broadcast TV has a lot more competitors now than it used to. The internet is a good source of entertainment, as are rented DVDs (through the post, no hassle, no adverts). Computer games, including consoles, are starting to become a lot more mainstream too, and TV viewership figures have been dropping a corresponding amount for some years. A big reason there are more adverts in TV shows these days is that the income per viewer has remained roughly constant, but the number of viewers has dropped. This increase in adverts then drives more people away, perpetuating the spiral. It's not enough for a new service to be as good as TV, because TV is already starting to lose out. It has to be better.

      • by Ajehals (947354) <a.halsall@pirateparty.org.uk> on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:48AM (#20679355) Homepage Journal
        I was going to say "how long till they put adverts (other than trailers) on to DVD's (there is nothing stopping them after all..) then I realised that children's DVD's are already littered with them (I put a postman pat DVD on for my son a while back, the feature is maybe 60 / 90 Minutes (3x 20 or 30 minute episodes) and there is at least 25 minutes of advertising material at the beginning, some of it totally inappropriate for really young kids (in terms of cartoon violence but still, its a Postman Pat DVD I wouldn't expect *any* violence* cartoon or otherwise) not to mention its is really annoying to have 2x 3 minute adverts for the same thing 5 minutes apart on a single DVD. Thankfully I can skip all of that, but I would hat to be someone who has a regular DVD player that honours whatever non-skip protection is on those Disks.

        *Except in "Pat and the Armed Post Office Robbery" where Pat foils a terrorist plot to rob the Post Office and use the proceeds to blow up the viaduct, or in "Pat goes Postal" which should be self explanatory... :)
        • by jedidiah (1196)
          This is one of the reasons that media server tech is so cool.

          Rip the DVDS. Get rid of all the extra crap. Go straight to the movie as soon as you select that movie and "hit play".

          Kids movies are the worst.

          I used to rip entire disk images and move slowly over time to just ripping the main feature because of all the crap in kids movies.

          It's also nice to have a single interface rather than n+1 cutesy little graphical menus with their own quirks.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Ajehals (947354)
            Not to mention DVD's plus young kids don't mix. I tend to rip and transcode the originals, store them and then make them available via NFS to whatever box the kids want to watch them on, the amount I spend on storage (which is minimal anyway with 200Gb Sata Drives at @£25.) is immediately recouped by the fact that the disks are not destroyed within three months. Although I guess that causes issues for some people's business models (By reducing repeat sales) and probably means I'll see more adverts..
        • by mmeister (862972)
          At least you can skip the movies. I've got some DVDs that mark their trailers as "can't skip". That "feature" is meant to be used for the FBI warning, but studios use it now to place ads.

          And ain't it grand that 2-3 years later, I'm STILL forced to see trailers from lame movies that came and went at the box office because I can't fast forward past it.
      • by jdray (645332)

        Let's see... "viewers want to be in control of how, when and where they consume their favorite entertainment," yet they keep you from skipping commercials (which I presume means you can't fast-forward at all, though that may be a reach) or watching them all in a bundle. Someone tagged this as "windowsonly." If true, that leaves out watching it on a Mac, Linux box, iPod, Archos media player, etc. If the window of availability is from the time of broadcast to fourteen days out (available for seven, expires

    • Yes, because I WANT to wait seven days after a show airs. So why can NBC post a show the ONE day after it airs on iTunes, but with their new model, that they control, you'd have to wait a week? Burn in hell...
      • but with their new model, that they control, you'd have to wait a week?

        Not after a week, for a week.
        FTA:
        The programs, ... will be offered for a week immediately after their initial broadcasts.
        • Oh, my bad. Even worse though! I haven't seen the last have of Season 3 of the Office. I'm sure it's been more than a week. So I will be out of luck then, eh? This is lamer than an iPod being lamer than a Nomad.
        • Maybe you just like to complain. It seems like any restrictions at all are unacceptable to you. The way I see it, free with ads for a week is better than paying apple for drm. If you want unfettered access to the file forever, you can always bittorrent it.
          • Maybe you just like to complain.

            I'm complaining? No. I was just pointing out the error in the previous posters comment.
    • What NBC and its advertisers fail to grasp is that if they made good commercials, and not boring preachy drivel, people would actually *want* to watch them -- and then they wouldn't need to charge money or add DRM. After all, look at how many people watch cool commercials for free when they get posted to YouTube and similar sites.

  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:09AM (#20679107) Journal
    From TFA:

    Commercials will be embedded in the programs and viewers will not be able to skip through them...

    Further into the article:

    But NBC intends to transform the service into a model similar to iTunes by the middle of 2008 -- that is, consumers will pay NBC directly to download episodes of the shows. "We did this to eliminate the middleman," said Jeff Gaspin, the president of NBC's digital division.

    That's fine and dandy, but will the paid version of the episode come complete with ads or is this just an interim solution until the paid model is in place, because I sure as hell wouldn't want to pay for episodes if they contained unskippable ads.
    • by garcia (6573)
      That's fine and dandy, but will the paid version of the episode come complete with ads or is this just an interim solution until the paid model is in place, because I sure as hell wouldn't want to pay for episodes if they contained unskippable ads.

      You aren't their target market. I'm not sure what their target market is because it should have been the masses of people Apple already had attracted to the market they nearly created (BT downloaders don't count for this heh).

      They only want to provide this crap t
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ajs (35943)

      From TFA:

      Commercials will be embedded in the programs and viewers will not be able to skip through them...
      So, this implies either a) a proprietary player or b) a requirement for Windows Media Player and thus Windows.

      Thus, no one running a real OS will be able to watch this crap. Problem solved.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aladrin (926209)
        The article also says it'll require Windows and the files will expire in 7 days. It's almost certainly Windows' DRM.

        Oh well, guess I'll keep paying my blood money to the cable company and downloading the improved versions from the usual places. (Improved meaning I can get it whenever I want, with no DRM, no commercials, and in a format that I like.)
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      I sure as hell wouldn't want to pay for episodes if they contained unskippable ads.
      I wouldn't mind unskippable ads... if that meant I could watch the program while skipping the ads and have all the skipped ads play in one block at the end of the show (un-skipped), like HDNET.

      Now non-skippable ads I'd have a problem with.
  • pirates win (Score:4, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:10AM (#20679109)
    I've always advocated that pirates pirate things they wouldn't pay for anyway, hence why they were always going to win.

    make all media pirate proof 100%, make no money. the slightest crack in the system and you make no money.

    simply release your media in a format everyone can enjoy for free in a quality higher then the pirates are putting out, slip in some well targeted adverts, hey presto you just won over a market you had no chance of ever having previously and your making money from it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ketilwaa (1095727)
      Maybe like put putting it on Miro? http://www.getmiro.com/ [getmiro.com]

      Besides, stopping people from skipping through the video doesn't really correlate with "viewers want to be in control of how, when and where they consume their favorite entertainment"

      --Ketil
    • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:55AM (#20679421)

      simply release your media in a format everyone can enjoy for free in a quality higher then the pirates are putting out, slip in some well targeted adverts, hey presto you just...
      ...invented broadcast television.
  • by Dekortage (697532) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:10AM (#20679111) Homepage

    From the article:

    ...the files, which would be downloaded overnight to home computers, would contain commercials that viewers would not be able to skip through. And the file would not be transferable to a disk or to another computer.

    The files would degrade after the seven-day period and be unwatchable. "Kind of like 'Mission: Impossible,' only I don't think there would be any explosion and smoke," Mr. Gaspin said.

    The programs will initially be downloadable only to PCs with the Windows operating system, but NBC said it planned to make the service available to Mac computers and iPods later.

    You can't skip through the commercials? Can't transfer them to a disk or other computer? Any bets on how long this will last?

    But maybe this will help...

    In a second phase of the NBC rollout, customers would pay a fee for downloads of episodes that they would then own, and the files would be transferable to other devices. NBC hopes to offer this service by mid-2008, depending on how quickly the company can put in place the secure software necessary to allow payment by credit card. [emphasis added]

    Right, because online payment systems are magical. Only the top wizards understand the spells that make them work. That's why nobody except Apple has secure software to allow payment by credit cards: Steve Jobs is the toppest of the top wizards.

    • by DannyO152 (544940)
      Macs and iPods later. Isn't this what the BBC said? I wonder if Microsoft has told them something about a silverlight based, multi-platform client program, coming real soon now and abso-damn-lutely guaranteed to really work kinda okay.
  • by Bazar (778572) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:13AM (#20679119)
    I've tried downloading/watching heroes from NBC before.
    Because i was accessing it from a non-american IP address, they locked me out, citing no advertisers for my region (New Zealand)

    Talking of which, they previous/already offered the ability to watch previous episodes of heroes before, what exactly has changed?
    Isn't this just a rehash of what they already have, just with plans to turn it into an iTunes competitor later next year?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rtyall (960518)

      Because i was accessing it from a non-american IP address, they locked me out, citing no advertisers for my region (New Zealand)
      Just run your browser through an American proxy, or use Tor and keep trying till it works.
  • by Dekortage (697532) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:14AM (#20679121) Homepage

    FTA:

    Mr. Gaspin said, "piracy was and is our No. 1 priority." He said that the music industry had been devastated by the free exchange of music, much of it facilitated by iTunes.

    Holy smokes: the most succesful legal online music distribution service on the Internet is actually a haven for piracy? Up is down, war is peace. Next up: the beef market has been terribly devastated by the popularity of McDonald's restaurants.

    • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:27AM (#20679195) Homepage
      I think what he's trying to imply is that iTunes (not iTMS) allows people to rip their own CD's unencumbered by DRM. In fact, it doesn't even have an option to force DRM on songs. I was curious about this too, until I realized that MS Windows Media Player has an option to "Copy Protect Music" and presumably has the ability to force people to "copy protect music" if Micrsoft deems it important. Imagine if iTunes never became the dominant music software; I'm guessing this option would already be turned on.

      This is probably some sort of PR spin over the fact that NBC is most likely going to use Windows Media Player to base their options, and this is a feature that a marketing person would tout as important. And at first glance, I think Joe Average will see this as important too, since it will cut down on those dirty hackers and pirates from stealing music.

      • I think what he's trying to imply is that iTunes (not iTMS) allows people to rip their own CD's unencumbered by DRM. In fact, it doesn't even have an option to force DRM on songs. I was curious about this too, until I realized that MS Windows Media Player has an option to "Copy Protect Music" and presumably has the ability to force people to "copy protect music" if Micrsoft deems it important. Imagine if iTunes never became the dominant music software; I'm guessing this option would already be turned on.

        A
  • If studios had addressed this in 2001 we, as "consumers", would be much better off.

    As it is this is all coming about because of a tiff between studios and Apple, which will culminate in differing DRM models as more media sources decide to go online, greater likelihood of a "pay-to-play" internet (at least in the US), and the certainty that commercials will be inserted into the shows *real*soon*.

    Thank god USENET remains an option, as does Miro.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      My ISP took down their USENET servers years ago. There's still other usenet networks you pay to use, but that's an extra cost on top of my already high internet costs, and isn't as fast as when it was on my ISPs network.
      • and isn't as fast as when it was on my ISPs network.
        Ahahaha Aha ha hah haha hehe haaa! What? Heh hooo haha. Ahem. Hmmmm. What now?
        • by walt-sjc (145127)
          His statement is most likely true. As the volume on Usenet exploded, many ISP's found themselves with massively overloaded servers. Rather than add capacity, they shut them down.
  • Just great, another advertiser-based Internet-distribution video service. And naturally not compatible with any other service and/or PMP.

    Here we go...
    1) download
    2) crack (?)
    3) strip advertising/convert format
    4) watch
    5) share (optional)
    6) delete when DVDs are released
    7) repeat steps 1-5 with DVDs
    8) when pay service starts change 1 to "pay & download".

    Meh. As long as my PVR keeps working I'll stick with 1,3,4 & maybe 6.


    • 5) share (optional)

      If everyone else can get it for free as well, why would you feel the need to 'share' it out?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am an Apple fan boy. With that out of the way, it is simply obvious to me and millions of others that iTunes is a well-refined product. With years of polish it has become one of the best media management packages around. So what are NBC going to end up releasing? My bet is some clunky, flash-in-the-pan web site with Windows-only formats and all the broken crap that comes with then. I am not denying problems with the Apple offering (DRM among them), but this move has the unfortunate effect of fragment
  • Used Amazon Unbox (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Enry (630) <enry&wayga,net> on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:32AM (#20679221) Journal
    I've used Amazons Unbox on my Tivo HD [hackrag.com] and downloaded the NBC pilots for Bionic Woman and Journeyman. Neither had commercials, so ran in about 42-45 minutes. Both were in SD format, which I should have expected given the amount of bandwidth required for HD, but I could set up a download from amazon.com at work, go home and then watch a show.

    Neither of these were shows I might have watched otherwise (or told the Tivo to record), but I may watch a few episodes of both now and give them a chance. Thanks NBC! Now bring back Studio 60 and all will be well with the world.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by prockcore (543967)
      Same here.

      I found that quite ironic. NBC fell upwards when Apple shut them out of iTunes. Amazon's Unbox offers better quality and more convenience for me. Being able to download shows directly to my TiVo and watch them in DVD quality had me immediately hooked on Amazon's Unbox. Plus I'm able to shop Unbox from either my TiVo or from any web browser.

      Apple would never partner with TiVo because Apple suffers from NIH syndrome.
  • Are there any players where a media file can disallow 'skipping the commercials'? Will it disallow skipping for commercials only, or will seeking be disabled for the entire file?
    • Why would you want to skip the commercials? That's part of the "higher quality video experience".
  • "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,"

    You know, you should really change 'viewers' to customers and 'consume' to view. You act as if your customers are mindless drones that gain sustenance from viewing your content.

    Oh, wait...
    • by khendron (225184)
      You have it backwards. The customers of NBC are not its viewers. NBC's customers are its advertisers, and viewers are the product that NBC is selling.
  • According to this paper [psychiatryonline.org] the revenue to NBC would be about one dollar per viewer with traditional media distribution. I'm not an Apple fan boy, but at the $1.99 price for television I would guess that NBC was actually making more money per video than they will running their own distribution system and supporting it with advertising.
  • August 31 - NBC announces that it will terminate its relation with iTMS. The reason is reported by Apple [apple.com] to be that "Apple declined to pay more than double the wholesale price for each NBC TV episode, which would have resulted in the retail price to consumers increasing to $4.99 per episode from the current $1.99." NBC announces a relationship with Amazon to sell shows.

    September 20 - NBC announces that they will give the shows away, with ads. Note that they could have kept their pricing with iTMS and al
    • Not to mention, with NBC hosting their shows with iTMS, APPLE is paying for all the costs associated with file serving, accounting, etc, NOT NBC. NBC will quickly go into the red if more than 5 people decide to give this a try. Then once the 6th guy can't get his content, because NBC hasn't spent enough money to be able to deliver the content over the 'net, the 7th guy doesn't even try and launches his favorite bit torrent software instead.
  • "Degrade"? (Score:4, Funny)

    by glindsey (73730) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @08:00AM (#20679459)
    According to TFA, the videos will "degrade" after seven days.

    I'm assuming this means that your download of 30 Rock will slowly morph into an episode of Studio 60, and eventually, Saturday Night Live itself.
  • "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," said Vivi Zigler, the executive vice president of NBC Digital Entertainment. "Not only does this feature give them more control, but it also gives them a higher quality video experience."

    Followed by:

    The service will allow customers to download full episodes of NBC shows for seven days on Windows-based PCs. The file will
  • by bockelboy (824282) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @08:09AM (#20679519)

    Now it is establishing its own downloading service, which NBC executives say they expect to become a viable competitor to iTunes

    Suuure. A viable competitor - but without a quarter of the video content, no music, probably crap software, lousy integrated experience, and no iPod support. It's as if they just opened a new brick and mortar NBC store which sells laser disks.

    Let me know how that goes for you.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @08:12AM (#20679555) Homepage

    Although I suspect this is more of an attempt by NBC to get people to pay to watch commercials, it's ultimately going to be bad for their business and the on-demand market in general. It's almost never a win to fragment a potential market, particularly for the consumer but who really cares about them anymore? With entertainment consolidated to a few major players, the consumer is an abstract concept with no form or value as an individual.

    Ultimately this will prove to be a fruitless endeavor. You can't drive an internet market by conscription. The history of the internet is littered with the corpses of companies that thought the same thing. Imagine needing a set-top box to tune in an individual TV station. NBC and CBS use the same type box, but you need a different one for ABC and Fox. WB has their own. It seems silly in any other market context, but that's what Apple and NBC are trying to do.

    Personally, I don't think the big media players are ever going to catch on. The farther down the road we go, the big media companies actually seem to be devolving. Fortunately that will open up markets for smarter players. Production companies with a leaner cost structure and the freedom of thought to consider product placement, co-branding and a host of other revenue streams rather than a strict commercial model.

    I gave a keynote at a NAB convention a couple years ago about the likely impact of the internet on media distribution and the opportunities for new revenue channels. Got a lot of head nodding but when I talked to them afterwards it was pretty clear it wasn't sinking in. They were still trying to fit the internet into the revenue models they already knew.

  • Let's be honest guys and see this for what it is.

    The iPod is *the* portable media player. period. Zune has made no traction in the market. NBC's affiliation with Microsoft is now being used to forward the Microsoft monopoly machine.

    Microsoft says shut off apple and ipods and only serve Windows machines. You know the shoe will drop when the Zune becomes the *only* portable media player that will work. Just you watch.

    Big companies like Windows with its DRM because it allows them to manage your pesky "fair us
  • And so it begins: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes@xm s n e t.nl> on Thursday September 20, 2007 @08:31AM (#20679709)
    the Balkanisation of online video. Instead of being able to find everything in one place, I'm back to using Google to find individual shows. Also, NBC currently doesn't allow video on its site to be seen outside the US, I suspect the new service won't be any better in this regard.

    At least we could count on Apple wanting to distribute these shows worldwide; I doubt NBC will want the trouble of allowing worldwide access (they'd rather sell the rights to the show to a national broadcaster instead).
    • Excellent point about the overseas bit. I lived in the UK for the past two years, and if it weren't for iTMS, I would have had no legal avenue to watch the US version of the Office (and a few other shows). As a matter of fact, my viewing habits are such now, that we don't watch tv. We download the shows we like, and then watch them at our leisure. I like the id of HIGH quality playback that NBC is promising, and I wouldn't even mind commercials, as long as it was HD quality (not almost, not compressed,
  • Im willing to get in on that and even pay for downloads if they put RATIONAL prices. and by rational i mean nothing like the dvd 'prices' they are circulating around in the market. I need logical stuff.

    there are loads of nbc comedies i want to get on my disk.

    aaah, and i wont be using no microsoft stuff for that. if thats part of the deal, forget it. id rather make a sock puppet and watch it, instead of having to buy a zune or zone or whatever.
    • Are you suggesting that $1.99 is too much for one episode? What about the $34.99 price or whatever it is for a full season? My only gripe with the iTMS pricing is the quality of the video isn't very good. The price is good enough for the convenience of watching the show, but it is too expensive for those who want high-quality, replayability. I download about 3 or 4 shows (all seasons) but I'll never use them to get the most out of my home theater system (in excess of $10,000 worth of schtuff).
  • Don't at least ABC and Fox already do this? I distinctly remember watching Andy Barker this way and I'm pretty sure it's also how I watched the Lost finale. Frankly, both of those systems suck hard. Lost kept skipping and the quality of Andy Barker was dismal. And I thought that NBC offered online viewing of select shows anyways? Or was that just recaps?
  • by snowwrestler (896305) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:11AM (#20680191)
    In this corner you have: Disney/Pixar/ABC + Apple + Google

    And in that corner you have: GE/Universal/NBC + Microsoft

    The industry has learned from AOL/Time Warner. Why buy each other when you can get the same advantages from partnerships and board placements?

    What are we thinking the odds are that the new NBC pay-for-download service will be based on Microsoft's DRM? Anyone?
  • "But NBC intends to transform the service into a model similar to iTunes by the middle of 2008 -- that is, consumers will pay NBC directly to download episodes of the shows. "We did this to eliminate the middleman," said Jeff Gaspin, the president of NBC's digital division."

    What this sanctimonious prick would never admit is that he and his ilk are the middlemen. If Apple accomplished anything, it concealed them behind the façade of iTMS' superior user experience, one that will outlast and outperform an
  • by dontspitconfetti (1153473) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:47AM (#20680805) Homepage

    breaking up with Apple over iTunes pricing schemes
    Wow, that's the exact same reason I broke up with my girlfriend!

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