NBC has announced that it will offer free downloads of prime time and late night programming episodes on its new NBC Direct service. Anyone with a PC running Windows will be able to download and watch these episodes up to seven days after the initial broadcast airing. Mac support will follow soon, as will the ability to transfer the file to a portable viewing device. Eventually, the network intends to make HD versions of the show available, using a peer-to-peer distribution system.
This new service will be in addition to the episodes offered for sale (which can be viewed indefinitely) and free streaming episodes that are available now. NBC has announced that it will no longer sell its programming through iTunes, in a dispute with Apple over pricing.
These files will be copy protected, which is less attractive but understandable, given that they don’t cost anything. The files will contain commercial advertising that apparently cannot be skipped , so that’s how NBC plans to fund the project. The project will start with beta testing in October, according to a company press release.