Tuesday, February 17, 2009

NBC Direct launches download of 'HD' shows

After an extended testing period, NBC launched today their 'HD' video download service. Content is available for immediate download, or via a free download subscription that automatically sends shows to your PC (for now Windows only, and not transferable to other machines/devices).

Notable is the first significant market endorsement of P2P technology by a large owner of video content. Long the scourge of content owners, P2P (in this case powered by Pando Networks...where I am an investor), the legal harnessing of this technology has a promise of providing enhanced quality, lower costs, and better network performance than stand alone CDN delivery.

The nascent yet emerging 'digital living room' market is showing signs of experiencing great growth, as evidenced by Hulu's steep rise in viewers here. We are seeing a gaggle of solutions from stream to download, hearing about the primacy of the set-top box and new intelligence built into the PC (mom would love that oxymoron), let alone the great media server debate. The raging debates reminds me of the IBM/ATT quarrel of the late 80's when the hot topic was which is more valuable the network or the node? While ATT and IBM were fighting that one out, Cisco and Microsoft created the great franchises for the next decade. I would not be surprised if some of the young vendors competing here today have similar DNA.

For NBC, I suspect that the scope of available content and the viewing experience will be the key factors in its success. Looking at content, the NBC Video Library includes such stalwart shows as Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Buck Rogers, and Mr. T's the A Team! As for the viewing experience, download the client and start watching. Don't feel guilty, you are doing 'research'.

From NBC's perspective, I am sure watched by other broadcasters, delivering 'HD' using P2P could be a cost/experience equation game changer. If not for you, NBC....

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