Sorry folks, but it was a tad underwhelming to read about CBS and NBC’s moves into video-on-demand, which—like ABC’s deal with Apple—allow consumers to buy a limited number of the networks’ series for later viewing. Was it that ABC, as first out of the gate, and with the techno-sex appeal of Steve Jobs, therefore grabbed the best headlines? I’m open to that possibility, but I don’t think that’s quite it. First, according to this story in The New York Times, the CBS/Comcast deal offers the shows—which include hits such as CSI—only to Comcast subscribers, but not in markets where CBS has affiliates. The NBC deal with DirecTV, meanwhile, is only available to DirecTV subscribers, and as a pure video-on-demand option only to those who order a new DVR the company is making available this month. (For other DirecTV subscribers, there is also the option of pay-per-view with a specific start time.) For both networks, the series will rent, commercial-free, for 99 cents. Even though that price is better than Apple’s $1.99, at least with Apple viewers can own the content. And there’s no comparison when it comes to distribution either. All you need to download the iTunes Music Store (where the ABC shows are for sale) is a computer and a broadband connection, and if watching what you buy on a tiny video iPod screen doesn’t float your boat, you can watch it on your monitor.
—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor
Credit: Virgina Sherwood/NBC