Posted November 12, 2007 5:08 pm by with 5 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

It’s been a big fortnight for NBC—first Hulu launched, now NBC Direct launches. Announced in September, NBC Direct is a service designed to allow viewers to download NBC shows for free. Originally slated to launch in October, NBC Direct went live on Saturday (that’s November, for those of you who, like me, can never seem to remember what month/season it is).

With, of course, a couple catches, as we reported when they made the announcement:

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 [included] advertising cannot be skipped.

And, according to Mashable, the live launch features even more catches:

First off, it’s Internet Explorer only, then once you download the player, if you don’t have the latest .NET framework, you’ll be downloading that also. Next: Windows Media needed a security update on top of it all. On a Mac? Sorry, can’t help. Outside of the US? You’re out of luck too.

. . . All episodes are available for only seven days after they initially air, and once you start watching your video you only have 48 hours to view it before it deletes. You can choose to subscribe to your favorite shows so you’ll get the new episodes automatically each week. . . .

Since this currently only works on Windows machines, and downloads to mobile devices haven’t arrived yet, there doesn’t seem to be much point to the venture, except for watching while offline – remember that NBC already lets you watch many shows online.

paidContent is similarly underwhelmed:

But all I can tell you about the actual quality of the video from NBC Universal is it has ads. That’s all I’ve been able to see—the same Bertolli ads repeating back-to-back-to-back. Not sure why; clicking on help first brought up an empty window, then no answer for this. The same thing happened with two different episodes. Others have seen actual shows so I’ll keep trying. If I were an average user, though, the fact that it’s a beta wouldn’t make it less frustrating, especially if I didn’t try to watch until I was offline and relying on it for entertainment.

paidContent did have one bit of good news: Mac support is expected early next year.

Of course, in light of the recent writers’ strike, if NBC runs out of content and their files all expire before they get their shows back in production again, they’re going to have some disappointed and unhappy consumers.

  • I watch the videos just find with Firefox on Vista.

  • Zen

    Sounds like a lot of limitations for something you can get ad free and dvd-rip quality from a torrent site one day after the show aired. They’re gonna have to step up to the facts.

  • Ok so it is not ideal or perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. It shows that media companies are changing the way media is distributed. Instead of fighting torrents and piracy, media companies are are adapting to changing consumer patterns. I think it is still better than massive law suits for downloaded files and all that stuff… its progress… great progress and hopefully it’ll take.

  • Zen

    @ Ivan:
    Maybe you’re right. I mean, if they want the torrent downloads and piracy to stop, they’ll just have to come up with new ideas. I for one think that them giving the content is the best option. With time they’ll figure out how to pull it off without filling the screen up with ads. I know we’re all in to marketing and advertisement, but lets face the facts: nobody likes to see a banner on the corner of the screen while thy’re watching The Office.

  • There are so many better alternatives out there
    its seems like they are wasting their time.