NBC offers “free” downloads.

Fresh from pulling their content from iTunes, NBC plans to make money by offering "free" downloads of its shows:

NBC Universal said yesterday that it would soon permit consumers to download many of NBC’s most popular programs free to personal computers and other devices for one week immediately after their broadcasts.

Of course for NBC, free has a somewhat different meaning:

But the files, which would be downloaded overnight to home computers, would contain commercials that viewers would not be able to skip through. And the file would not be transferable to a disk or to another computer.

The files would degrade after the seven-day period and be unwatchable. “Kind of like ‘Mission: Impossible,’ only I don’t think there would be any explosion and smoke,” Mr. Gaspin said.

The programs will initially be downloadable only to PCs with the Windows operating system, but NBC said it planned to make the service available to Mac computers and iPods later.

Now as a TiVouser I can watch NBC shows as often as I want without downloading them, and I can skip the commercials if I like. So can anybody with a DVR or video recorder of any kind, or even a PC if they choose. And I can move that video to my iPod if I like. It’s wonderful that NBC is going to let me download shows to watch on my PC, with commercials of course, but I just can’t imagine they would be stupid enough to pass up the revenue from iTunes sales.

The networks just don’t get the concept of customer choice.

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