NBC has announced that it will offer a service that allows users to download the company’s most popular television shows directly from their site. The problem? The service is in direct conflict with their Hulu but is too good an opportunity to pass up.
Hulu, of course, is the NBC-News. Corp joint venture which was supposed to be their answer to YouTube. However, with the announcement of a much more convenient download option (which promises to be better than the ad-supported online streaming model that ABC uses), NBC may kill effectively put an end to Hulu before the service even comes out of private beta and that’s a good thing.
NBC’s move comes as companies throughout the television business search for new economic models in the face of enormous changes in the business. Networks continue to lose audience share, and viewers — especially many of the highly prized viewers under 30 years old — are increasingly demanding control of their program choices, insisting on being able to watch shows when, where and how they want.
The move actually makes much more sense than Hulu ever did. With the launch of NBC Direct, they are really moving towards the next evolution of content delivery and giving the consumers exactly what they want. We’ve seen YouTube and it’s ad-supported online video streaming model, as well as iTunes’ paid video download model; NBC takes the best of both models, which results in the convenience of an iTunes download (portability, time-shifting, etc.) and a YouTube video (i.e. no cost to consumers), and gives us a near-ideal way to get our content: anytime, anywhere, and at no cost.
NBC Direct does everything that consumers have been asking for and strikes out at most arguments that people make for pirating content. With the option of completely free and automatic delivery of content to you and the luxury of being able to watch it whenever you want, the arguments for pirating content begin to dwindle. As for Hulu, well we all knew this would happen.