NBC To Allow Free Show Downloads

NBC's move is worth noting because it's probably the direction that all the major TV networks will end up going.

NBC said this week that it will let you watch some of its biggest shows on your PC for free during the week after the programs originally air. It's the first phase of a new video on demand service called "NBC Direct." The shows that will become available immediately include "Heroes," "The Office," "Life," "Bionic Woman," "30 Rock," "Friday Night Lights," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

NBC says it'll begin beta testing the new service in October. In later versions, NBC Direct will automatically download your favorate shows to your PC after they air on TV, NBC says.

NBC's move is worth noting because it's probably the direction that all the major TV networks will end up going. The networks have long talked about the ability to distribute shows to the "three screens"--the TV, the PC and the mobile phone--directly from their own online stores. The networks have to date preferred to distribute their content through third parties like iTunes and Amazon Unbox. NBC's recent squabbling with iTunes over pricing might be just the beginning.

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