NBC President Zucker says ‘many more NBC TV shows’ coming to Apple iTunes in ‘next couple of weeks’

NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker spoke with Broadcasting & Cable’s Ben Grossman in a recent interview. Some questions and answers touched on topics related to Apple Computer:

Can you put the Apple iPod deal into perspective?
It is part of our overall digital strategy, something Bob Wright had laid out for us for more than a year now, which is to make our content as ubiquitous as possible, to have it be available on as many screens as possible. We want it to be on all the platforms.

Will you expand your offerings on iTunes?
Over the next couple of weeks, in fact, we will have many more announcements about many more shows there. We see it as a brand-new business, and it will be run like any television network, with new material refreshed and replenished all the time. I don’t think there’s a limit as to how many shows we can have available.

Do people want to watch 30- and 60-minute shows on smaller screens?
Every week there are 436,000 illegal downloads of Battlestar Galactica. Clearly, someone is downloading it and watching it on a smaller screen. Ever since iTunes went online with video, there have been 500,000 downloads per week. It’s pretty clear people want to watch this stuff. Now, given that we are selling Battlestar Galactica for $1.99, there is finally a legitimate model in place.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Zucker’s comments to B&C match similar statements he made to Variety on Tuesday, December 6th.

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  1. One slight point, of those galactica downloads, many get burned to disc to watch on a tv or connected to a tv to watch – so it’s not being watched on a “small screen” or computer environment. Also the torrents are of higher resolution, although h.264 scales well, they’re not of as good a quality for watching on a tv. As such many torrent watchers won’t swap (forgetting the whole money thing).

    I love that content is being made available, but it’s not suitable for a digital living room (using whatever media center type solution is available).

  2. M.X.N.T.4.1:
    Have you tried to play iTunes video on a full TV screen?
    I heard from other posts that the iTunes video play well and clearly on a full tv screen.

    Let me know what leads you to the statement that “h.264 scales well, they’re not of as good a quality for watching on a tv.”

    I just want to get clarification.

  3. H.264 is a codec (compressor/decompressor) that is capable of doing Full High Definition, 1920×1080, 24p. It’s the encoding that Apple is allowed to use by the content providers, not H.264 that limits quality.

    H.264 scales perfectly well. I hope iTunes videos don’t give H.264 a bad name to the general public that doesn’t understand. Just like iTunes AAC for music files, Apple is limited in the quality they can sell by the content providers, but the codecs themselves fully scalable up to the upper reaches of quality.

    More about H.264 here:

  4. i’ve watched the iTMS versions of _Lost_ at double normal size on my laptop and desktop and it was fine. After buying 4 of those I picked up a copy of the first season DVD and to be honest, I can watch either version.

  5. I don’t own a video-capable iPod, but I have bought Lost and BSG episodes. They look a bit pixelated on a monitor (eMac) and LCD (iBook), but are fine to watch. I also piped them from the iBook to a TV via the AV cable and they look pretty good on my regular-def 32″ TV.

    The problem is those HD movie trailers have spoiled me. Once you’ve seen 720p on your screen (can’t do 1080i on the eMac), you can’t watch anything low definition without complaining a bit.

    But, that said, I would not want to wait forever to get the shows down in HD. It would take a long time to get even a 480p BSG episode. So, for now, convenience and immediate gratification make low-def fine for this buyer of NBC iTunes content.

  6. Wow. Great news.

    I wonder if CBS is holding out because their parent, Viacom, is doing their own thing with Microsoft and making CBS work with its sister company, MTV?

    If the music store had CSI, 24 and Smallville, I’d be in heaven.

  7. “It’s pretty clear people want to watch this stuff.”

    Wow, what a flattering way to describe your programs. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  8. I must say that I purchased an episode of The Office last week after having never seen the show on TV ever before. Now that I’ve been exposed to it, I’ll probably watch it on TV now. This will expose a lot of people to watch the programs on regular TV, not to mention the money they make from the purchased episodes.

    As for the quality, it was just fine watching it on an iPod connected to a 32″ TV. Sure it would be nice if it was a higher resolution download, but it’s very watchable on a TV (as well as VERY clear on the iPod screen itself) and not nearly as bad as some claim it to be.

  9. What can be better for an executive of a network to sell low rez versions of their programs which have no scalability?

    It’s like how certain DVDs keep getting re-released with enchanced this or that. It’s a gimic to milk a thing for all it’s worth.

    I have no problems with this at all and i think it’s a good thing overall and eventually in years to come the quality will have to improve and a all new business model for content will arrive. We are seeing the death of networks and their outdated methods here. The business model of commercials and so called Neilson’s ratings will perish. Hopefully it will give rise to better programs that are able to be more diverse.

  10. I’ve been downloading lost and the office for about a month now to my powerbook 12″ and watching the shows by connecting my powerbook to a big screen tv in my living room. They look pretty good on the big screen, not perfect, but better than you’d expect. pretty cool stuff.

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