NBC does downloads; fails to improve on the PVR experience
Interesting that NBC are launching a ad-funded download service in addition to ad-funded streaming. It's been clear for a while that streaming is not sufficient for all users. Until there's more fibre in the street many consumers will demand a higher quality picture than streaming can provide. Downloads can offer higher quality, but they give little control over who watches which adverts, and when.
NBC seem to be getting round the ad problem by timing out video after a week. That means the files will include proprietary DRM, which in turn implies that users will run into difficulty when they try and play the content on their TV, or portable device. A consumer would not have these problems if they had recorded the show on a PVR.
Yes, that's right. This is the same debate the music industry is having. Few people buy the DRM-encumbered downloads from iTunes et al. Why? Not because people are philosophically opposed to DRM - they have not even heard of it. They don't buy from iTunes because they know that these downloads are less functional than making a (legal) personal copy of the old CD format.
It's the same in TV, folks. People don't want these downloads until they are more functional than making a copy of the old format. If TV companies embrace this simple logic now there is much they can do to shape the market around it. If they don't… Well, maybe they should ask music executives how they feel about their position today.
The NBC announcement shows that U.S. ad-funded networks understand they must deliver the right solution for the viewer, even if the ad inventory is less attractive. That is progress. It's still a niche offer though, and will remain that way as long as broadcasters fail to adopt open, mainstream standards for video delivery. That means dumping the DRM and well as the streaming.
Posted at 10:56 UTC, 20th September 2007.
Last changed at 10:58 UTC, 20th September 2007.