No, it’s not iTunes, Hulu, Amazon or even BitTorrent. Soon you’ll be able to get your free fix of Heroes, Conan, and The Office—directly from NBC. Well, from their service, NBC Direct.
The ad-supported free content model is, of course, nothing new. In March, for example, CBS partnered with YouTube to provide free, ad-supported NCAA tourney clips. We reported:
In 2005, their subscription model pulled in $250,000. Not too shabby, but nothing compared to 2006, when they switched to a free, streaming, ad-based model: $4.5 million. That’s an 1800% increase.
Of course, there is a catch (or several). NBC Direct will only offer Windows-compatible files. The shows will be available as soon as they air (unlike their Amazon deal, which will offer season premieres in advance), but the digital files will expire seven days after airing. The advertising cannot be skipped.
NBC Direct is slated to launch next month. Future plans will include the ability to receive automatic updates (can we say RSS?), Mac downloads, and the ability to transport the shows to a portable device (which means a video iPod, right?).
NBC already offers paid downloads of their shows directly from their website as well as free streaming versions.
What do you think? Is this really an improvement over their iTunes deal for the consumer? Or is NBC only helping themselves?