It was just a couple of weeks ago that NBC announced that it didn’t intend to renew their contract with iTunes once their current contract runs out in December. Some people thought the little argument between Apple and NBC would soon be over, and NBC shows would remain on iTunes come December. Unfortunately for iTunes users, there’s no kissing and making up here. NBC is moving on and starting in October, they’ll be offering free downloads of their shows via NBC Direct.
After a show airs on NBC, it’ll be available for a week to be downloaded. When someone downloads the show, they will then have 7 days to watch the content. Each show will include ads that can’t be skipped, thus the reason these downloads are free. The list of shows that will be available at launch is pretty impressive too. The list includes: The Office, 30 Rock, Bionic Woman, Heroes, Friday Night Lights, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
NBC said that they wanted to get rid of the middle-man (think Apple) which they’ve done. They also said that they hope to eventually turn NBC Direct into a service that could compete with iTunes. As it stands, the movie downloads are only available for those using Windows. So trying to compete with iTunes is out of the question for now until they provide a client for those using Mac computers and portable devices.
This is just the beginning for NBC’s download service. According to Ars, "a closed P2P network is planned to eventually provide higher-resolution programming, with paid download-to-own, rental, and subscription business models on track for late 2008." It’ll be interesting to see how well this model will work for NBC. I’m skeptical that it will be as successful as they’re anticipating it to be, especially because they don’t have a client available for both Mac computers and other portable devices. Many of the people who download shows and movies from iTunes do it so that they can watch them on portable devices.
I’d say this is bad news for Apple, and hopefully other media companies won’t follow in the footsteps of NBC and eliminate the middle-man. It’s understandable that they want control over their content, but in the end, will they be able to lure in enough people to make it a success? Or will they turn back to iTunes?