NBC and CBS to Offer TV on Demand

remote controlCBS and NBC announced separate ventures into the realm of on-demand TV delivery. So now, all three of the major networks (after ABC’s iTunes Music Store venture) have stuck their toes in to test the waters of a new delivery mechanism. The floodgates are far far from opening though at this point. Of the three, I still think ABC’s partnership with Apple is the best because it’s a tiny bit more flexible than the others. The two latest offerings by NBC and CBS aren’t available yet, but when they are (they’re starting early next year) you’ll need either DirecTV for NBC or Comcast cable for CBS. Yes, that’s right, you’ll need to pay for those shows twice since you’ll already be paying for DirecTV or Cable from Comcast. Plus to make things even more fun, they’re leavin’ in the commercials! So, after paying 99 cents, you get a show (the next morning after it airs) that you’re already paid for, and you cannot remove from your cable or satellite box, and given the way the big media companies have behaved in the past, it will probably disappear from your box in a week.

I guess it’s good that the media companies are at least trying to do something, but just like happened (is still happening?) with music download services, it just isn’t quite enough. I can record TV right now (without paying an additional 99 cents) on my DVR and move it to my computer, a laptop, even an iPod video (if I had one) and guess what, I don’t have to wait for it to show up the next morning on my horribly locked down cable box. But I guess it’s a start, even though I think they’re only doing it because they think they have to… the ships going to sail without them. We’ll see how much more restrictive this gets over time and how many different versions of DRM they’ll come out with so that I have to use my special CBS box to record the CBS show and can only move it to my CBS portable media player over the special CBS cable. If I want to watch an NBC show, I’ll have to pull out my NBC equipment. It’ll be interesting to watch, and that’s all I will do until things become a little more available and a little less locked down (fat chance of that!).


gravatar Kieran

I agree with you, this move by the major networks seems to be more of a token acknowledgement that people are interested in seeing them do something about “on-demand”, however, it does seem a bit futile or meaningless in the face of DVR technology. Any of the major shows on the air (and even some of the less-popular obscure shows) are available on bittorrent almost immediately and most of the major shows have been recorded in HD.

So the major networks may be responding more to the level of availability of the “free” versions out there as opposed to tipping their hats to technological savvy. It’s never easy to say, but it is a good sign that they are willing to enter the arena.

gravatar Troy

I think this is more their attempt to avoid the fiasco of the music industry’s approach.

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