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Microsoft to Offer TV Downloads

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Microsoft is finally going after the TV download market with its Zune device and online network.

Company has added more than 800 episodes from congloms including NBCU, MTV Networks and Turner to its online store as part of a subscription push. Offerings pale next to the selection at the iTunes Store, but Chris Stephenson, general manager of global marketing for Zune, said the company wanted to "launch with what we've got" and build from there.

Timing is tied to a key selling period for MP3s and a desire to build a social network around those sales. Stephenson said Zune, which has struggled to gain a toehold against Apple's far more popular portable device, will add smallscreen offerings from other networks and cablers as it inks deals over coming months. Movie downloads are further down the road.

"Clearly, we're talking with everyone," Stephenson said, "and we would like to have the broadest partnerships as possible."

At this point, Microsoft's Xbox Live service has a broader array of content, including skeins from CBS and Fox. But the Zune store does boast NBC skeins such as The Office, Heroes and 30 Rock, which is more than Apple can say. Peacock yanked its skeins off iTunes in December over a pricing dispute.

JB Perrette, prexy of NBC Universal Digital Distribution, said the Peacock is eager to distribute its skeins on as many platforms as possible, as long as it can control pricing and protect intellectual property

"It's really a question of 'Why not?'" Perrette said, noting that NBC U distributes skeins through other digital services, including Amazon. Variety's Diane Garrett reports