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September 16, 2006

NBC Streaming Ad-Supported Shows Through In-House Digital Player

Earlier this week, NBC released an announcement of an extensive plan to stream entire episodes of its shows on its own Web site for free, made possible through online advertising support for the video content.

The plan is for new fall prime-time shows to be made available through the NBC Universal Video Player, a revamped product that will make its relaunch on Oct. 1.

The new product will be one of many network-specific video products, similar to CBS' innertube, for instance, that opposes third-party models popularized through iTunes, AOL's video player, and myriad others by allowing viewers to access shows directly through the site of the content provider.

New dramas Friday Night Lights, Heroes, Kidnapped, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip will each have its first eight episodes streamed online, while new situation comedies Twenty Good Years and 30 Rock will each have its first four episodes aired online.

NBC has been experimenting with several new distribution platforms to encourage interest in their new shows, such as their sneak previews made available through Netflix and the deal with AOL to provide the first episodes of both Studio 60 and Twenty Good Years a week before their broadcast debuts.

However, the digital streams are not the only major announcement from the Peacock Network, which also made plans to debut blogs from various creative powers on the network's shows, including writers, cast members, and producers. Every show on the air will have its own blog, with various powers from the show updating content.

Christopher Lisotta provides a comprehensive list of the blogs that will be available on the NBC site.

NBC's decision reflects the decision made by CBS and several other content providers, in they have their own in-house distribution system for online content, both of which are advertising supported, while they are also making content available through multiple other platforms. The question remains, though, with each network having their own site for content like this, whether it will be of ultimate benefit to customers. On the one hand, customers seem to enjoy a centralized location to find content on. However, streaming content through the site of the show is also of major convenience. That's why NBC's two-pronged approach makes a lot of sense, providing both services to customers simultaneously.

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