September 19, 2007


NBC to Offer a Free Video Download Service (BILL CARTER, September 19, 2007, NY Times)

NBC Universal, acknowledging that viewers are increasingly moving away from traditional television viewing, announced plans today for a service that will make popular NBC programs available to download free to personal computers and other devices.

The programs, including “Heroes” and “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” will be offered for a week immediately after their initial broadcasts. Commercials will be embedded in the programs and viewers will not be able to skip through them.

They had the whole season of Heroes online and I was able to catch-up this Summer. What's the point of thwarting viewership?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 19, 2007 8:28 PM

They'll still be on-line for longer periods...the one-week is the limit on downloading (the file will either erase itself or lock up after a week). This way, they can assure advertisers that anyone using this service is seeing their ads while the ads are still fresh, and they can segment the market somewhat by selling permanent downloads (via iTunes or similar) to those who want to keep the programs.

The reality is no one knows what the ultimate business model will be for television programming in the future (that is, to what extent will it be ad supported, whether through regular spots or product placement, or a mix of ad support and fees, such as iTunes)...but this seems like a logical test and may help lead to an answer of how this market will work.

Posted by: Foos at September 19, 2007 9:15 PM

It will take some techno geek about a day to find a way to skip commercials.

It will take another techno geek to find a way to insert his own commercials.

Posted by: Bruno at September 19, 2007 9:18 PM

True, but the reality is that most people aren't techno geeks. Even with DVR's and downloads and everything else, most people still watch about as many commercials (with as much recall for the products being sold) as ever. The claim that DVR's reduce commercial viewing doesn't take into account that in the "old" days (5 years ago) most of us used commercial breaks to use the bathroom, get a snack or flip through other channels.

Posted by: Foos at September 19, 2007 10:11 PM

So they took their business away from iTunes, which sold episodes for Windows and Apple computers and iPods, and now offer something that is free, but only works on Windows, expires after 7 days, and has commercials you can't skip? Brilliant! Do they hope to make it up in volume?

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 19, 2007 11:29 PM

I have a friend who's partner in a company that generates video and audio content, mostly advertising, for many of the major TV broadcast and cable networks and many more of the smaller ones. He says the whole industry's in a panic b/c their ad revenue has tanked over the last half-year. The demand for their product is still there, but they can't figure out how to make money off the demand.

Advertiser's won't pay for they used to. He said their work load is exactly the same now as it was this time last year, but they're only making two-fifths the money. Several of his competitor companies have gone under.

Posted by: Twn at September 20, 2007 9:11 AM

Ad to all this the advent of Googles ad model, which is stripping newspapers of advertisers.

When attempting to sell ad time on my radio show (e-mail me, it's cheap), a potential advertiser (hotel/resort) told me a $2000 investment in newspaper got him 1 (ONE!) reservation, while Google netted him about 50, for under $100.

Radio is scared, as Google is now finding, aggregating, and placing radio spots nearly as fast as sales departments.

Posted by: Bruno at September 20, 2007 10:44 AM

Beruno: and Craigslist is taking away their classified ads.

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 20, 2007 10:51 AM

We've stopped using the Seattle newspapers for help wanted ads and switched to Craig's list. It costs 80% less and generally results in many times more applicants.

Posted by: Patrick H at September 20, 2007 11:36 AM

Well ... how did you like Heroes?

Posted by: Qiao Yang at September 20, 2007 12:53 PM

Like X-Files, Lost and several other recent series, it would benefit greatly from the network telling them they had two -- or maybe three years -- to tell their whole story and then the series is over. The first season was good, but you can see how easy it will be for them to wreck it. Hiro may be the best character on tv since Norm or at least Bill on Newsradio.

Posted by: oj at September 20, 2007 2:24 PM

Anyone else think the new Prison Break episode was way over the top of brutality? We turned it off.

Posted by: erp at September 20, 2007 5:10 PM

I'll check it out. Season Four of The Wire has once again reset the bar. It's too good to believe.

Posted by: Qiao Yang at September 20, 2007 9:03 PM