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?
My answer is neither. I’ll go with Tivo.
Fair enough–though of course you’re paying for that too with the Tivo subscription. Also, I wonder if Tivo’s partnership with Amazon Unbox will start having a significant impact on this whole situation.