NBC Goes Direct With Downloads


Peacock supporters will soon be able to check in on their Heroes via a new service

Slated to launch next month, NBC Direct is an application that will allow users to download ad-supported, full-length versions of some of the network's top fare to their computers, where they can be watched up for a week.

NBC Direct is the latest downloadable gambit from the broadcaster, which recently elected not to renew its deal with Apple’s iTunes over pricing and control issues. Next month, Hulu, the joint venture set up by NBC Universal and News Corp. to provide ad-supported broadcast and cable TV programming to major Internet portals, is expected to launch a beta test.

During its beta version, NBC Direct will enable viewers to see episodes of Heroes, 30 Rock The Office, Life, Bionic Woman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, among other programs, on Windows-based PCs for one week following the episodes' premiere broadcasts, according to Vivi Zigler, executive vice president, NBC Digital Entertainment. Users can watch the shows for up to week on the downloadable player, before the license expires. The device incorporates technology that prevents it from playing stolen or copyrighted material.

Later in the beta launch, users will be provided the free subscription option that will allow them to pre-select their favorite NBC programs they want to watch. Those shows will be automatically delivered to their computers as soon as they are available after the original broadcast.

Further out, NBC Direct will provide expanded platform functionality enabled digital rights management- protected versions of its programs to be downloaded to Macs and portable devices in addition to PCs. NBC.com plans future enhancements such as high-resolution versions of programming made available via a closed peer to peer distribution network

“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 consumer their favorite entertainment,” Zigler said in a statement. “Not only does this feature give them more control, but it also gives them a higher quality video experience.”

News of NBC Direct comes as Disney-ABC Television announced that is teaming with AOL to offer ad-supported, full-length episodes of its primetime lineup via the www.video.aol.com site. Disney’s AOL Video site will feature episodes from the Alphabet network's fall lineup of programming the day after their broadcast premiere, including Dancing With the Stars, Desperate Housewives, Lost, The Bachelor, Big Shots and Cavemen.

In addition, later this year, AOL will deliver short-form programming from ABC via an embedded video player, said network executives.