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October 8th, 2007

NBC’s Online Video is Very Lame

There was a medium-sized brouhaha earlier this year when NBC announced that it hadn’t made a deal with Apple to continue selling its shows on iTunes. The whole thing turned into a “he said, she said” situation: Apple claimed it would need to raise prices to $5/show to meet NBC’s demands; NBC claimed that Apple was encouraging people to pirate its crappy crappy shows.

Nevertheless, one byproduct of this breakup was a big push by NBC to get people to watch video on their website. I decided to try it out last weekend with an episode of 30 Rock. And you know what?

It sucks. The whole experience is awful.

First, the whole thing is in Flash. Thus it runs a little worse on my Mac, because the Mac version of Flash Player has always run a little worse than the PC version. Strike one. Second, it only works in the browser – I can’t download it, can’t watch it whenever I want (without an internet connection), and on my time. Strike two. Third, it has a 35 second ad (!) at the start of the clip. Strike three.

Fourth, it has friggin’ commercial breaks. Strike four.

I’m not sure how much dumber NBC can be – I’m sure they could be much dumber, actually – but this type of presentation of their “quality” shows is really awful. It’s entirely disrespectful of the viewer (just like regular TV!) and makes me wonder if it’s time to use BitTorrent.

Good job, guys. You’re the ones encouraging people to pirate your shows, not Apple.

Posted in Technology

Dave Walls October 8, 2007, 11:28 am

It’s one thing for ABC to do something like this (30 second commercial breaks in the middle of their programs’ broadcast online), considering they’ve never gone the iTunes route. It’s another way when NBC had them available for purchase, they bitch about iTunes, and regress to this way of doing it.

FWIW, the picture quality on ABC’s streaming of shows is fantastic. Still, it’s a small consolation to be watching commercials online in HD.

Ben Homer October 8, 2007, 8:51 pm

Hey, a couple things here:

NBC is still selling shows on Apple through at least the end of the year. They also recently partnered with Amazon so you will be able to download shows from them for the foreseeable future.

Once Hulu.com launches you can expect a better video experience for viewing programming in your browser in addition to possibly being able to download shows directly from there.

The 35 second ad is surprising to me considered NBC announced earlier this year that they are limiting pre-roll length. That said, if it’s long-form content being offered for free, ad supported they’re probably still losing money on that transaction through cost of delivery vs. cpm income from your single impression.

Paul October 8, 2007, 11:26 pm

Ben: “They also recently partnered with Amazon so you will be able to download shows from them for the foreseeable future.”

Not on my Mac.

“Once Hulu.com launches you can expect a better video experience for viewing programming in your browser in addition to possibly being able to download shows directly from there.”

I get the feeling that “Not on my Mac” will apply here, too.

DRM is lousy all around.

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