NBC Launches TV Downloads Service
NBC Direct, the free service from NBC that lets you download full episodes of The Office, 30 Rock, Scrubs, Heroes and more, has gone live on the NBC site.
Currently in beta, and originally scheduled to launch in October, the new video viewing service allows you to download the latest episodes of NBC shows directly to your computer for viewing in a special player. Getting set up to do this is rather annoying. 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.
Once you’ve jumped through all of their hoops, you can start choosing videos to download. 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. All the shows contain video ads which cannot be skipped.
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. They seem to be hedging their bets, too: NBC is distributing its shows through Hulu, the partnership with News Corp that’s getting good reviews. What’s more, you have to wonder whether it’s wise to launch such a service in the middle of a writer’s strike.
All in all, a thumbs down for NBC Direct.