Nbc Unveils Yet Another Download Plan
NBC's digital strategy became embroiled in new confusion and controversy Wednesday as the network announced that it will begin beta testing NBC Direct, employing an online player that will allow PC users to view for free some of its programs for a week after they are broadcast. (The network also plans to make some of the same programs available on a separate online platform that it will operate with Fox called Hulu.) Among the programs that will be made available in the initial tests are Heroes, The Office, Life, Bionic Woman, 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Critics immediately observed that the player will only work with Windows PCs, at least at present, cannot allow viewers to skip commercials, and will not permit movies to be viewed on video iPods or other handheld devices. The announcement received little if any praise from bloggers, many of whom regard Apple's iTunes Music Store as a simple way for them to download TV shows. "From a consumer perspective, this is a disaster," media consultant Moses Kagan wrote on his blog. "Imagine if each [of the four major networks] pursued this strategy: We would live in a world where we had to have four different logins, learn four different interfaces, and have four different program schedules." Meanwhile, ABC announced that it has reached a deal with AOL to distribute some of its primetime shows.