“We did this to eliminate the middleman,” said Jeff Gaspin, the president of NBC’s digital division.NBC seems to be waking up to the fact that the business they are in is media distribution, and that the distribution model has shifted online. Apple saw this much earlier and jumped on it. Now that the model has proven successful, NBC is looking to go it alone.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Initially NBC says they will offer shows free for download just after they air. It looks like you only have one week from the air date to download and watch it however, and then it seems they won't let that episode be downloaded. The downloads themselves will be restricted to Windows-based PCs, and will stop working after seven days. It's unclear if that's seven days from the day it is downloaded, or seven days from the initial making available after the air time. This sounds like it makes it impossible to pick up a new show mid-season, then go to NBC and back sample the earlier episodes. If you really like a new show you'll have to hope for re-runs, or buy the DVDs at the end of the season.
It doesn't sound like the free part will last long however. From the NYT 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.I will have to reserve judgement on the pricing until it is announced, but I'm not optimistic. One of the rumored reasons for the NBC-iTunes breakup was pricing, that NBC wanted to charge more. I can't really see how NBC expects to charge more that Apple's $1.99 per show, especially if the shows are really only rented for a week.
I will have to test this out on a Windows machine at work, since I don't have one at home. I'll be curious to see if NBC can put together an offering that is as easy to use as iTunes. I'm a little worried about the implications for 'TV Video' downloads if NBCs model proves effective. It seems each of the old guard Networks would likely follow suit with their own video download services.
Apple got out in front of all the old guard media companies, and quickly became the new network, the new aggregator. As a customer, I don't really care about NBC, or Apple. What I care about is a simple, direct path from the content creators to me. If NBC can pull this off, and I can still watch Battlestar Galactica on my schedule instead of theirs, more power to them.