NBC Direct launches: NBC's kind of lame video download service


NBC has launched a video download service. The network first announced its NBC Direct initiative in September, which left us scratching our heads a bit, seeing as the network also recently partnered with News Corp to launch Hulu, a free service for watching TV shows and movies from a web browser.

Still, you might not always have an internet connection handy, so a download service isn't a bad idea. Unfortunately, NBC Direct doesn't quite live up to our low expectations. We've put together a quick video look at the interface, (note that the video plays smoothly, but our screen capture software had a hard time keeping up), but here are the highlights (and lowlights):

Pros

  1. The video quality is at least as good as anything you'll get see on Hulu (except the commercials, which seem to be encoded at a lower bitrate).
  2. You can start watching videos shortly after you start your download. No need to wait for the download to finish.
Cons
  1. You need to download and install the NBC Direct application in order to download and watch movies (although you can probably also watch them using Windows Media Player once they're downloaded).
  2. The videos include Windows Media DRM, which means no Mac or Linux for you.
  3. There's an extraordinarily limited selection available right now (You can choose from The Office, 30 Rock, Life, Bionic Woman, Friday Night Lights, and that's it).
  4. Half the time when we login, the library is not available.
  5. Shows are only available for one week after they air on TV (while you can find 5 weeks worth of shows on Hulu)
  6. Once you click play, you have to finish watching your video within 48 hours or it will self destruct.
  7. You can subscribe to a series to download all new episodes, but you have to visit NBC's web site to do this. You can't subscribe from the player, even though there's a button that makes it look like you can.
Overall, color us a bit less than impressed. At this rate, we'd pretty much rather pay $1.99 per episode to download the shows from Amazon or iTunes. NBC is calling this a beta, so we're going to hold onto some small bit of hope that some issues will be addressed. But we're not holding our breath.

[via Mashable]

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