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NBC to Offer Free Video Download Service

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the must-see-internet-tv dept.

Television 229

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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229 comments

God Smack Your Ass !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20679065)


God Smack Your Ass !!

gay (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20679149)

shut up

Wait for comcast! (4, Insightful)

gravos (912628) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679069)

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...

Re:Wait for comcast! (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679113)

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 have no idea how on-demand works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20679271)

With the on-demand services, the feed you the programming locally. With this, the cable company has to pay other people for bandwidth... for each and every person that uses it.

Re:Wait for comcast! (1)

gravos (912628) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679165)

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.

Re:Wait for comcast! (1)

fymidos (512362) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679167)

ISPs should be happy that more content is made available on the internet. More people online, more money and power to them...

Re:Wait for comcast! (3, Funny)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679329)

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.

Re:Wait for comcast! (1)

saider (177166) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679335)

"Should be" is the operative phrase. The fact is that ISPs see other people making money off of their network, and of course those people should pay.

Re:Wait for comcast! (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679823)

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 (4, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Yeah, whatever... (4, Insightful)

technothrasher (689062) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.


Re:Yeah, whatever... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20679171)

Yeah, this is my problem with what they're saying.

Also, they're putting it through a "testing period," likely meaning that if their terrible idea of forcing us to watch downloaded videos like TV shows doesn't earn them the profit they expect, they may conclude that people don't want to buy video downloads from them at all and scrap the project.

As it stands, unless they put the commercials at the beginning and then give me a video that I can fast-forward, rewind, and pause, I'm never going to use this service. And even if they do simply put the commercials at the beginning, I'll leave my computer to make a cup of tea or something while the commercials play.

Honestly, this is nonsense. Quit trying to apply TV business models to online video downloads.

Re:Yeah, whatever... (1)

DerWulf (782458) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679953)

Please propose an alternative that is still economically viable ...I don't like tv ads. I despise having to watch my shows when they are on. I absolutely hate getting mail from the state prosecutor because I've been illegally downloading hereos. For me, the solution provided by NBC seems to be the most optimal in terms of what can be expected.

Re:Yeah, whatever... (4, Insightful)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#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?

Re:Yeah, whatever... (1)

technothrasher (689062) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679223)

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:Yeah, whatever... (2, Insightful)

DerWulf (782458) | more than 6 years ago | (#20680043)

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.).

Re:Yeah, whatever... (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679253)

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.

Re:Yeah, whatever... (1)

Kintar1900 (901219) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679327)

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.

Amen to that. Personally, I'm still trying to figure out why the broadcast companies think they'll make more money by continuing to sell commercial time than by simply selling the shows directly to the viewers. Let's see, I can either spend time downloading their videos for free (I assume free anyway, TFA didn't make it clear or I missed it) but swamped in commercials from their site, thus costing them bandwidth charges to boot, or I can go to Borders and buy the full season of Heroes on DVD for a price that works out to $2.09 per episode. Hmmm....lemme think about that. Is a commercial-free show worth $2? =P

Re:Yeah, whatever... (1)

sYkSh0n3 (722238) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679765)

What's so bad about commercials? I actually enjoy commercial breaks. Gives me a chance to go to the bathroom, listen to whatever the wifey was trying to tell me when the show was on, grab a beer from the fridge, whatever. That's actually what I don't like about the dvd version. If it's really good (and it usually is because why would i watch something that wasn't?) I have trouble bringing myself to stop it. But I only have a handful of shows I actually want to watch, I'm not gonna watch the commercials even if they are there, so it doesn't really matter to me either way.

Tho "withbeerandhookers" may be my favorite tag ever used on /..

Re:Yeah, whatever... (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679615)

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'.

Re:Yeah, whatever... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679269)

Grab the video stream, edit out the commercial and voila! No need to buy a DVD, no need to tape it off television, no need to keep the commercial on your final video.

Re:Yeah, whatever... (3, Interesting)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679975)

Grab the video stream,

I.e. "Install software on your computer to do something you shouldn't need to."

edit out the commercial

I.e. "Install more software on your computer to do something you shouldn't need to, and spend at least as long as the show is futzing around with editing it."

Frankly, I'd rather just not watch the show than to go through all of this trouble. Other people will probably be downloading it illegally to avoid the trouble and still watch the show. I like my solution better, though, because 1) I get to do other more interesting things, and 2) I don't help perpetuate the popularity of shows that are made by companies that want to control when, where, and how I watch stuff that I'm willing to pay for.

Re:Yeah, whatever... (4, Insightful)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679355)

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... :)

Re:Yeah, whatever... (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679303)

First, what content does NBC have that's worth watching, other than Heroes?

Second, I'll stick to Bit Torrent. Thanks.

Re:Yeah, whatever... (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679377)

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...

Re:Yeah, whatever... (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679641)

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.

Re:Yeah, whatever... (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20680111)

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.

AntiTrust yet again.... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20679093)

Is anyone suspicious about the fact that Microsoft has a HUGE stake in NBC and all of a sudden NBC's content is pulled from Apple's store?

Criminals.

Re:AntiTrust yet again.... (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679117)

Is anyone suspicious about the fact that Microsoft has a HUGE stake in NBC and all of a sudden NBC's content is pulled from Apple's store?

... and ins now available in a Windows-only format (surely DRM WMV of some kind).

Anyway, I watch TV on my TV, not my PC. If I can't move it to my TV easily, no thanks.

Re:AntiTrust yet again.... (5, Insightful)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679123)

Ultimately this is a good thing; it forces NBC to be better than Apple or they fail. It then forces Apple to be better than NBC. Which forces everybody else to be better. Because everybody is competing with free. You've got to be good to compete with free.

Now the trouble is, companies hate competing, so ideally, Congress will ignore the whining of these big companies as they ask for laws to shield them from competition. It should also look aggressively at these companies if they try to work together to avoid competing with each other.

This should be interesting to watch.

Re:AntiTrust yet again.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20679379)

You've got to be good to compete with free.

As proved by MS. Actually, Windows has improved leaps and bounds since Linux took off, so I guess your point stands.

Re:AntiTrust yet again.... (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679391)

Well we know NBC's model won't be better than iTunes just from the description, and iTunes can only be as good as the content available to it. So NBC can't win because they've built a poor model based on antiquated advertising schemes, and Apple can't win without NBC content. In this case, it is a lose-lose situation for the consumer. Gee, thanks NBC.

Re:AntiTrust yet again.... (2, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679127)

I'm more suspicious of your "facts". NBC is owned by GE (market cap 427 billion vs MSFT's 268 billion). Maybe you're thinking of MSNBC (a stupid idea), which Microsoft is no longer interested in.

Re:AntiTrust yet again.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20679185)

From Wikipedia- "Although Microsoft and NBC shared operations of the company at its founding, it was announced on December 23, 2005 that NBC Universal would purchase a majority stake in the television network, which left Microsoft with 18%. The two companies remain 50-50 partners in msnbc.com."

"Microsoft invested $220 million for a 50% share of the cable network, while MSNBC and Microsoft would share the cost of a $200 million newsroom based in Redmond, Washington. NBC supplied the space"

First off, I never said that Microsoft owned NBC. Reading comprehension is important. If you don't think that NBC and Microsoft could get in bed in areas outside of MSNBC, you are one naive dude. Oh...and check YOUR facts. I don't see any mention anywhere of Microsoft being "no longer interested in" MSNBC. Perhaps you have inside information that you would like to share with us Bill. Or is it Steve? ;)

Re:AntiTrust yet again.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20679139)

NBC is 100% owned by NBC Universal, which is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi SA. Remind me how Microsoft fits into this?

From free to pay...eventually? (4, Insightful)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679107)

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.

Re:From free to pay...eventually? (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679197)

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 to those that *must* see their favorite TV shows and are willing to pay to download them instead of downloading them themselves, using a DVR capable of transfer to mobile devices as part of fair use (even though I love my DirecTivo I have to say fuck you DirecTV on that), etc.

Re:From free to pay...eventually? (2, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679319)

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:From free to pay...eventually? (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679651)

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.)

Re:From free to pay...eventually? (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679403)

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 (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:pirates win (3, Interesting)

ketilwaa (1095727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679147)

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

Re:pirates win (5, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:pirates win (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20679653)

They are going to charge you to download something that can be seen for free on basic cable or even using an antenna/vcr....
This is why the pirates win because of this simple fact. shivver me timber :D

Commercials you can't skip? (5, Insightful)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679111)

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.

Re:Commercials you can't skip? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20679225)

NBC is owned by GE. I used to work as a programmer for a software/it company, left, and now work at a client site. The company was later bought by GE. When I worked there, there was always a lot of incoming work, but I managed to turn around cases in 1-3 days -- requesting more information or putting a fix in their test system. Quite often, a client would call me directly and I could look into something while we're on the phone.

Since GE was involved, response time is pathetic. Don't bother trying to call, because they won't answer. Getting an initial response from a case can take weeks (and their programmers/analysts know less about the product than we do). I can't entirely blame the people; they're obviously overworked and I know a lot of people quit/were reduced after the merger.

Anyhow, I would expect GE/NBC will take months (or more) before their Bangalore programmers can get it right. Expect a few linux.dev posts about cc integration with .net.

Re:Commercials you can't skip? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679239)

> 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.

I read that as meaning that software would embed the purchasers credit card details into the episodes being downloaded. You could share those files if you like - it would save you the effort of posting your credit card details on piratebay...

I suspect it'll only apply to US and maybe europe (4, Insightful)

Bazar (778572) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:I suspect it'll only apply to US and maybe euro (2, Insightful)

rtyall (960518) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679287)

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.

iTunes causes music piracy? (4, Interesting)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679121)

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.

I think what's he's saying (3, Insightful)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679195)

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.

Six years too late (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679129)

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.

Re:Six years too late (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679281)

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.

Re:Six years too late (1)

Null537 (772236) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679365)

We do not talk about U****T! It doesn't exist. What's Enn-Eff-Oh? I don't know...no idea...

Not as good as it sounds (2, Interesting)

KClaisse (1038258) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679137)

Well, I read TFA, and I have to say, it's not such a great thing.

The service will allow customers to download full episodes of NBC shows for seven days on Windows-based PCs. The file will expire after the seven days.
So it sounds like they are saying, this is Windows only. Lots of Mac and Linux users are going to be disappointed.

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

... consumers will pay NBC directly to download episodes of the shows.
So wait, we have to pay to see un-skippable commercials? Forget that! They aren't going to win over the people who are simply TiVo'ing their favorite shows, or (god forgive) the ones who downloading them elsewhere. NBC is asking a little too much here.

Re:Not as good as it sounds (1)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679405)

Lots of Mac and Linux users are going to be disappointed.

On the contrary: lots of Mac, Linux and Windows users were using Bittorrent anyway, and NBC is encouraging this approach by tightening the clamps, so it actually sounds like this will result in more satisfied pirates than ever before.

The only disappointed people will be those who insist on doing things legally, but fortunately for the pirate world the industry has been trying to punish loyal customers for years. In this new punishment users are being restricted to a single platform, made to watch ads despite having paid for the content, and will have the content 'expire' after a few days. Sounds like anyone posting a comment on this site is more qualified to run a profitable digital television distribution system than these clowns.

Re:Not as good as it sounds (1)

budword (680846) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679411)

Lots of Mac and Linux user aren't going to be disappointed. No one is going to be disappointed. No one wants to use this.

Re:Not as good as it sounds (1)

PriceIke (751512) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679795)

True statement.

If I wanted to watch Heroes, I'd buy it on DVD. From what I've read, the terms of NBC's download service are entirely unacceptible, so I will just [continue to] ignore NBC.

Re:Not as good as it sounds (1)

colfer (619105) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679513)

You didn't read the article, the version with commercials is free, the other is not. But NBC will delay rolling out the pay service.

NBC's current Flash player has tons of free episodes from last year. I think they'll take those down when the new season starts in a few weeks. It is a little buggy: it loses the close captioning every so often, etc. But the main thing is that you can't watch it on a slow DSL (384Kb) connection, there is no way to degrade or cache. It just stops every five seconds. Pausing does not help. I think that's why you can't rip the cache .flv, unlike with most other Flash players.

Fox's player on MySpace is better. Uck.

Quote of a quote from TFA:

"It's not just a shift from a supermarket to a mom-and-pop story, it's a shift to one store that only sells bread, another store that only sells dairy products. The consumers have decided they want to get their content from iTunes."

Re:Not as good as it sounds (2, Informative)

KClaisse (1038258) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679871)

Actually I did read the article and nowhere does it explicitly say that the costly one would have no commercials, they just said they were going to charge in '08. You quote where it says the commercials will be removed when they charge.

Just great... (1, Funny)

TheRealStyro (233246) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679181)

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.


Re:Just great... (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679237)

5) share (optional)

If everyone else can get it for free as well, why would you feel the need to 'share' it out?

Naturally, everyone has to do their own thing! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20679193)

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 fragmenting a service that, for the consumer, is best unified.

I'm really happy to hear this (-1, Flamebait)

Clockwurk (577966) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679219)

Instead of buying shows on iTunes and getting ripped off, I can just download them from NBC. Kudos to NBC for making things better instead of worse.

Re:I'm really happy to hear this (2, Insightful)

the_fat_kid (1094399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679317)

instead of "buying shows on iTunes and getting ripped off" you will be buying commercials from NBC and getting screwed.
instead of buying an episode from iTunes and watching it (maybe even with out commercials) as much as you like, you will get 7 days to watch the commercial content. You can't even fast forward these things.
truely a TV executives wet dream.

this is just like the stupid lillypond thing. WMA, DRM, crap.
but I'm sure that this will stop piracy. yar.

Re:I'm really happy to hear this (1)

Clockwurk (577966) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679807)

This story is titled "NBC to offer FREE download service"... Nobody is going to buy episodes with commercials, we are going to get them for free.

Re:I'm really happy to hear this (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679389)

iTunes shows cost $2. These shows contain unskipable adverts. Both contain DRM. Assuming they include 10 minutes of adverts in a one-hour video, and that you will only watch the show once, your time would have worth under $12/hour for them to be better value than the iTunes version. Where I live, that's barely minimum wage.

Re:I'm really happy to hear this (4, Funny)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679447)

Assuming they include 10 minutes of adverts in a one-hour video, and that you will only watch the show once, your time would have worth under $12/hour for them to be better value than the iTunes version.

Of course! Time spent watching TV is billable time. I think we've found the ???? step before PROFIT!

Used Amazon Unbox (2, Interesting)

Enry (630) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679221)

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.

The Real Reason They Left iTunes Is... (1)

NotNormal (958920) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679231)

Apple wouldn't let them double dip. Now they can charge the advertisers to embed their ads in the program. Then charge the viewer to watch the ads. Boy am I glad I have a DVR... Not only can I watch Heroes when I want; I can skip the commercials pretty easily.

Re:The Real Reason They Left iTunes Is... (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679331)

No, you don't understand. By making you wait a week, by imbedding commercials, by making it Windows-only, and by making the file disappear after one week, they are giving you MORE options. I particularly like the option that I can't use it on my Mac and the fact I get free commercials too! That's giving me some sweet control. I hope this crashes and burns faster than a Zune, and the idiot executive that came up with this gets canned.

How does it work? (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679241)

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?

Re:How does it work? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679305)

Why would you want to skip the commercials? That's part of the "higher quality video experience".

Re:How does it work? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679557)

Yes. If you count single-chapter DVD media. Some players won't allow you to spin on through segments willy nilly because there are no marker frames in the stream.

consume????? (1)

Nonillion (266505) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679259)

"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...

Re:consume????? (1)

khendron (225184) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679771)

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.

Brilliance (1)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679285)

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.

That didn't take long (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679297)

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 also given the shows away if they had wanted to. This seems to me to indicate a major screw-up on NBCs part.

I wonder if anyone got fired over this - after all, the Fall season is beginning. Maybe NBC felt that they won't get any Internet audience at all. Clearly, there is something going on behind the scenes we haven't heard of yet.

Free to pay? (0)

merlinokos (892352) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679337)

Much as I'd like to say this is a fine idea, I've been watching TV for free for most of my life. I don't want that to change now, or ever. I'm used to commercial breaks, and I'm not prepared to pay for something I can watch on network TV, for free -- it'd be different if I paid to watch NBC, but I don't. The sponsors pay for it, and the deal is that I get to watch for free in return for a few ads, which I can walk away from. When I first read that I would be able to watch TV online without paying, I thought it was a great idea. Two things stop me having the warm-fuzzies by the end of the article. 1) 7 days isn't long enough. I want to be able to record it, the same way I would with a VHS tape. Download, watch later. I'll even leave the commercials in. 2) FREE is what matters. I'm unwilling to pay for essentially free content. So while the system is free, I'll take advantage of it. As soon as it requires money, I'll be on the do-not-watch list, and back on BitTorrent, where I can get the whole show, edited to be without commercials, for a price I like.

Great move! (0)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679451)

I like this idea. If the content is high-res enough and manageable size - say about 300 MB, then I don't mind this have non-skippable commercials. For one, it beats downloading the content illegally. Second, it supports the content providers. Third, there are few shows I'm interested in watching and of those some are on NBC. Cable is an expense I would rather spare. And buying box-sets on DVD (or renting them) is expensive in my area.

Lastly, I live in Canada - it sends a big Fuck You to the CRTC (I'm quite sure there won't be too many opposing me here ;) ) - they don't have to exist anymore since they don't have any control over digital mediums. Besides, in Canada, the CRTC *makes* cable TV more expensive since I *have* to buy Canadian channels and American channels. I could care less for all the Canadian channels save the CBC.

Re:Great move! (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#20680121)

For one, it beats downloading the content illegally.

With a torrent, I can watch it anywhere I want on any device I want for as long as I want with no commercials. How does this beat that?

"Degrade"? (3, Funny)

glindsey (73730) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

no viewing on the go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20679491)

"viewers want to be in control of how, when and where they consume their favorite entertainment"

Too bad that will no longer include watching shows on a video iPod. I've seen lots of people watching Heroes (NBC) and other programs on the subway, so the interest is there.

As someone else pointed out, NBC could have done just fine by sticking with iTunes AND trying this concept out. Anyone else expect to see them back on iTunes in 2 years after their failed experiments with ad-imbedded content?

Greedy Fucks (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679509)

"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 expire after the seven days.

More control? Windows-based PCs only?

In control of how, when and where? File expires after seven days? Windows-based PCs only?

But, the best part (which actually manages to top the above marketing double-speak), is this:

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

Followed by:

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.

Consumers will PAY to be forced to watch commercials? Consumers will be scammed by a company double-dipping?

Greedy fucks. Media corps are wondering why consumers are getting sick and tired of their bullshit? It isn't hard to figure out.

Glad I'm Canadian. I'm going to vote with my dollar and exercise my legal right to download for personal use only.

Gee, too bad no one has tried this before... (4, Insightful)

bockelboy (824282) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Fragmenting the market is a poor strategy (2, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679555)

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.

Does anyone see the Microsoft in MS[NBC] here? (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679629)

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 use" rights for you to their benefit.

And so it begins: (3, Interesting)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 6 years ago | (#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).

Ill get in on that (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679719)

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.

A report ... based on last year's offering. (1)

7grain (583823) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679849)

They offered Heroes and about a dozen other shows in HD downloadable content last season. I watched the 2nd half of the Heroes season this way. The download files are about 500 MB; very large. And they come slowly. Each one needed about 1015hours to find it's way to my computer. The results were great - it's like DVD-quality video. (Not quite 1080p but I don't remember the exact specs.) Very, very pretty video. And only one 15-second commercial between each segment means you're done in about 45 minutes. The only downside is that you had to watch your video during the week that it was broadcast, otherwise it would "expire" and be deleted from the player.

Speaking of the player - Proprietary player. Very clunky. The GUI is all about NBC content, just what you'd expect. Worse than ITMS by far. But, you know, I put up with a lot for that kind of convenience, and I'm pleased to send NBC the "message" that I'm interested in great high-quality video that I can timeshift on my computer, no TV required. I LOVE IT. I just run it in a Virtual PC because I'm a little scared of their software.

Cheers.

Late in the game, aren't they? (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 6 years ago | (#20679883)

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?

Time Apple says FU and lets slip the dogs of war!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20679905)

I think it's time that Apple remember their original iTunes marketing campaign: "Rip. Mix. Burn." Let Apple TV, iTunes and the iPod manage video with as few restrictions as possible.

If Apple were to unleash the devices in their arsenal and give maximum freedom to their customers to do what they want with their media then the various studios will be begging Apple for re-listing on the iTunes Store.

Watching TV online (1)

Nightjed (1102995) | more than 6 years ago | (#20680059)

i dont think i'd even consider downloading anything with drm, but i have to say its nice to be able to watch the new heroes chapters online though the nbc site when i get a free hour in college, now if fox would just follow their example ...

Re:Watching TV online (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20680127)

The problem is, you have to watch it within a week of it being aired, according to another post in this thread. That doesn't really sound like giving me the content WHEN I want it. Sounds like I have to jump online sometime within the week of initial airing. That way, NBC gets all their pretty little advertising dollars. Lame.
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