NBC U is contracting with Extend Media for NBC Direct, its still-in-beta scheme to allow viewers to download NBC shows on a free, ad-supported basis. Extend Media, a competitor to The Platform (owned by Comcast), will deliver the video and manage back-end payment to the various rights holders for the content.
NBC U is slowly building out NBC Direct, but we don’t really understand why. Initial reviews were terrible and the beta version is still PC-only. What’s more, folks who want to watch ad-supported NBC shows (or, say, the A-Team Channel) at their computers already have the NBC/Fox joint venture Hulu.com.
If NBC made the downloads portable, it would make a little more sense, and no doubt that’s part of NBC’s plan. But even if NBC Direct downloads do work on portable devices, they won’t work on Apple’s iPods or iPhones, so good luck with that. One minor upside: There may be a solution in the works for moving shows to a television. Extend Media provides the back-end technology for SanDisk’s TakeTV, a small flash drive you move from your computer to your TV to watch downloads. Last year NBC U digital distribution head Jean-Briac Perrette said SanDisk “is going to be an iTunes-like store for us.”
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