NBC Universal to provide TV shows for SanDisk Web-based service

Apple iTunesNBC Universal and SanDisk today announced that current TV shows from NBC, USA Network, SCI FI Channel, Bravo, and vintage library shows from NBC Universal will be available via Web-based service. SanDisk’s “Fanfare” service enables the download of TV shows and other video content from Windows PCs only — Mac users need not apply — for playback on their TV via the Sansa TakeTV video player. The announcement was made today by Jean-Briac Perrette, President, NBC Universal Digital Distribution and Sanjay Mehrotra, President and Chief Operating Officer, SanDisk.

The Sansa TakeTV device must be purchased to extract content from Fanfare and transfer it to a television for playback.

MacDailyNews Take: TakeTV? Okay, if that’s what you want, NBC. But, there won’t be much “purchasing” going on, boys – certainly not from SanDisk or NBC. Totally unrelated and completely off-topic article: Free TVShows application for Mac OS X automatically downloads your favorite TV shows via BitTorrent – August 31, 2007. The point we are making is that NBC seems to forget or be ignoring that they are not only competing with legal downloads, but with piracy. By making it difficult for users by requiring additional hardware, practicing bundling (read: swindling), and plastering DRM on everything, NBC et al. will continue to be unmercifully trampled by P2P.

Under the terms of the deal, SanDisk plans to collaborate with NBC Universal to implement a series of Digitial Rights Management (DRM) measures on NBC Universal content, including partnering to explore “the implementation of watermarking and filtering technology solutions.” Additionally, NBC Universal and SanDisk will collaborate on new consumer content acquisition models, including flexible pricing and packaging. NBC Universal will provide Fanfare BETA users with “a variety of attractive ways to purchase and view TV shows, including offering discounts for multiple episode purchases and entire seasons, as well as incentives to purchase a bundle of different TV shows at one time.”

MacDailyNews Take: NBC: Must DRM TV. Bundle? Rip-off is more like it.

“Our viewers now have another innovative way to enjoy NBCU’s first-rate broadcast and cable content whenever and wherever they choose with Fanfare and Sansa TakeTV,” said Perrette. “SanDisk is taking a leadership position within the consumer electronics industry with its commitment to protecting content, which marks an important advance for television entertainment in the digital landscape.”

Said Mehrotra. “SanDisk is committed to providing consumers a vast collection of legitimate content, while protecting the rights of content owners with technology solutions such as watermarking.”

MacDailyNews Take: SanDisk, NBC, and DRM: A threesome made in hell.

NBC Universal content will be available on Fanfare (currently in BETA) in January. NBC shows will be available on Fanfare for consumers to purchase and permanently download and view on a TV via SanDisk’s Sansa TakeTV PC-to-TV video player. Shows will include “The Office,” “Heroes,” and “30 Rock.” New episodes will be available on Fanfare the day after they air on the network. Consumers may also purchase NBC Universalcontent from properties such as USA Network, SCI FI Channel, Bravo, Telemundo, mun2, NBC Sports, and NBC News, including USA Network’s “Monk,” SCI FI Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica,” Bravo’s “Top Chef,” as well as NBC News and NBC Sports specials.

Sources: SanDisk, NBC Universal

MacDailyNews Take: They couldn’t beat Apple’s iPod+iTunes fair and square after more than half a decade of trying, so now they’re going to try to tilt the playing field: deny content to Apple, supply it to the also-rans — festooned with DRM, of course — while ghettoizing Mac users (who just happen to be the fastest-growing segment of consumer personal computer users and also those with the most disposable income). Think it’ll work?

The only way to effectively compete with piracy is to offer DRM-free (or unobtrusively DRM’ed) content that can be played anywhere for a reasonable price. Then people will buy. It’s a simple solution that most of the world’s content providers have yet to understand.

43 Comments

  1. the devil is in the details.
    without price, bundle, or drm specifics, it’s another
    boon to stupid investors who drive stocks up based
    on vaporware.

    MDN word ‘using’
    “I’m using my mac, which works in real life”

  2. “Our viewers now have another innovative way to enjoy NBCU’s first-rate broadcast and cable content . . .”

    He’s kidding, right?! NBC’s current lineup is dead last among the big three, and may even be fighting for fourth with the WB (or whatever it’s called these days).

    There’s ‘way too much crack being smoked in the NBC boardroom!

  3. To what degree is the Microsoft relationship having an effect in this space?

    It would seem time to have the anti-trust attorneys get warmed up in the bullpen.

    Crashing empires make a lot of noise when they come down and the people who had the power never care for losing it.

    Jobs has stones the size of Texas.

  4. When they fail at this, I hope Apple does not let them back into the barn!

    I think iTunes and iPods have way to much momentum at this point for this to make a significant difference to Apple/iTunes store.

    I really think NBC is shooting themselves in the foot, but have not realized it yet.

    I hope Apple drops a new bomb on them at the MacWorld expo!

  5. I think Apple (Jobs) made a mistake on this one. All Apple had to do was accept different pricing and they could have avoid the fallout. Apple already had a lock on the market, and as everyone knows, the profit is in selling iPods not content. Not everything Jobs does is brilliant. This decision might go down in history with the puck-shaped mouse.

  6. NBC/Universal is doing what it promised to do after storming out of that iTunes deal in a fit. They said they will explore various other avenues of digital delivery and they are doing it. That Hula thing, then their own site, now this. The longer they take to “explore”, the longer it will be until they realise who is the king of digital distribution. For once, it is much better for the consumers to have one monopoly that knows what it’s doing and does it for the benefit of the consumer (for now). The digital download market is too fragile and too small at the moment. It is not ready for NBC’s experiments and explorations. Jobs is absolutely right: the only way to teach consumers to download their media is to make it extreeeeeemely attractive and easy. Only iTunes offers that today. Four years from today, perhaps the market will be mature and ready for competition and variety. Today, though, we NEED to have one single monopoly (the AT&T;of content downloads) where we’ll get into the habit of purchasing our media.

    NBC/Universal will miss this boat by doing their experiments. Others will squeeze them further into irrelevance.

  7. Once again Apple will come out on top. In January, Apple TV will receive a massive update and that will once again raise the bar for the NBC’s of the world.

    Does anyone notice that innovation is always missing in these partnerships? They consistently skate to the puck rather than where the next pass (Apple) is going to be.

  8. Who ever heard of someone running out to by a Sandisk player to watch an NBC show? This is just another example of a room full of “yes” men in each company’s boardroom getting high on the fumes they’re burning as they continue to run on empty.

  9. I have a TiVo and use TiVo Decode Manager to get the files off my TiVo and then into iTunes (and then onto my iPhone). It strips the video file of DRM. I remove the commercials from episodes I plan to keep. The rest I just watch (scrubbing through commercials) and then delete.

    When are content providers going to learn that they are competing with DRM-free options? The only way to compete with DRM-free options is to offer something better (easier to access, higher quality, extra content, etc.). Until they embrace this line of thinking, they’re all doomed to failure.

  10. Why is it that pretty much all video on the internet seems to basically ignore the on-demand benefits of the net and make it inconvenient with restrictions and complications?

    Companies have the opportunity to make money by doing less yet they all seem to be ballsing it up. The broadcast networks could be used as a way to turn people on to new content, content they stumble across then they can promote it’s continued viewing via net-based means. Instead they seem to think that the way to stem falling broadcast ratings is to make other avenues more complicated. What they don’t seem to realise is that people aren’t going back to TV, they’re just not bothering at all.

  11. To all of those people saying NBC has nothing to worth watching.

    Have you ever heard of “The Office”?

    Can you tell me what the number one selling TV show was in the itunes store before NBC pulled it’s content?

    That’s right, it was the office. Guess there is some demand for NBC content after all.

  12. OMG!!! NBC left iTunes!! I need to buy an 80GB Zune!!! Oh, wait, I mean, a SansaTV!!!

    “..new consumer content acquisition models, including flexible pricing and packaging.”

    Blah blah blah blah give me more money.

    “NBC Universal will provide Fanfare BETA users with a variety of attractive ways to purchase and view TV shows, including offering discounts for multiple episode purchases and entire seasons, as well as incentives to purchase a bundle of different TV shows at one time.”

    Ok, so, that is correct. It is more attractive to buy the entire season at $3 per episode rather than $5 for an individual episode.
    Thanks NBCU! That is so fucking creative!

    Well, we should not complain about the higher prices. They are necessary for SansaTV to provide an employee at your house to make sure copyright is not violated. Did I mention the taser?

    Well, it looks like the theory of content providers that THEY are driving the sales of portable media players will finally be tested. Of course, it will likely not be a fair test between this service and iTunes. NBCU and Sansa will set themselves back by having unrealistic prices and excessive DRM.

    Hopefully this will only take 12 months or so to die so NBC will head back to iTunes. Losing NBC is, not matter how you parse it, not a positive for the iTunes Store. It is not a huge blow nor really much of a negative overall. However, from the perspective of trying to grow the sale of TV shows, it is a setback in the growth of the model. I think NBCU’s stand will be futile and, in the long term, validate the iTunes pricing model.

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