NBC Leaves the iTunes Fold

Apple took the world of dig­i­tal enter­tain­ment by storm when it start­ed offer­ing new tele­vi­sion shows on iTunes in 2005. The big net­works signed on (even­tu­al­ly) and it was sud­den­ly pos­si­ble to catch an episode of The Office or Lost for $1.99 on a video iPod or a PC.

NBC was one of the ear­ly adopters, and appar­ent­ly they’re not hap­py with the mod­el. They want to charge more than $1.99 an episode: Apple refus­es. So now the net­work has announced its own iTunes killer (or at least com­peti­tor). The net­work already offers stream­ing ver­sions of its shows for a lim­it­ed peri­od after each one airs. Now fans will be able to down­load and watch new episodes for up to a week after air-date.

Clear­ly, this is all about mon­ey. As Tivos and their ilk pro­lif­er­ate, few­er peo­ple than ever are both­er­ing to watch tra­di­tion­al TV ads, and the net­works are strug­gling to find new ways to make mon­ey. NBC hopes to make mon­ey by run­ning ads (that you can’t skip) dur­ing each show and, in 2008, by charg­ing peo­ple to “own” episodes they down­load beyond a week. Is NBC mak­ing the right move? Would you rather watch some ads and deal with a new set of soft­ware and video play­back issues or pay for some­thing that already aired for free?


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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.