NEW YORK NBC plans to launch a new desktop application that will allow PC users to download full-length, ad-supported episodes of its prime-time and late-night shows for one week following their initial broadcast.
The new NBC Direct tool will eventually let users sign up to have episodes of their favorite series automatically pushed to their desktops each week.
NBC Direct, which will debut sometime in October, is the latest on-demand viewing option being offered by the network for its top shows. Since last season, fans can stream full episodes of shows like Heroes on NBC.com. And starting next month, they'll be able to do the same on Hulu.com—the new video repository being launched in conjunction with Fox, as well as on other Web sites.
NBC said that Direct would provide higher quality video than traditional streaming, while also giving users more flexibility. "With the creation of this new service, we are acknowledging that now, more than ever, viewers want to be in control of how, when and where they consumer their favorite entertainment," said Vivi Zigler, evp, NBC Digital Entertainment.
Initially, NBC Direct will feature returning series such as Heroes, Friday Night Lights, The Office and 30 Rock, along with the soon-to-debut Life and Bionic Woman. In addition, fans can download episodes of late-night staples Late Night With Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
NBC said it plans to launch enhanced versions of NBC Direct in coming months, including one that works with both Macs and portable devices. Whether those devices will include iPods remains to be seen. Eventually, the network will offer users the option to rent or purchase full-length shows through the service—placing NBC in possible direct competition with Apple's iTunes. NBC recently announced that it did not plan to renew its contract with iTunes, which expires at the end of this year.