Just An Online Minute... ABC, NBC Update Online Video Strategies
As ABC already plans to stream many of these shows on its own site, ABC.com, adding AOL as a partner won't necessarily give consumers more options. But it should help ABC to reach more people -- such as AOL users who haven't thought to visit ABC.com on their own for programs.
NBC also is clearly looking to Web users to boost viewership -- and now that the network is no longer going to offer downloads of its shows on iTunes, it has to come up with new strategies like the one unveiled yesterday.
But NBC's newest plan has some problems, including one feature that marks a somewhat ominous development for users' ability to control their hard drives. Critically, NBC is using some sort of digital rights management technology to ensure its shows self-destruct within one week of being downloaded.
Such digital rights management programs haven't been well-received by tech-savvy users. In fact, some DRM programs have led to legal woes. Sony BMG, for instance, faced a host of spyware lawsuits in 2005, after releasing CDs with DRM features that attempted to restrict users' ability to make copies.
Apart from any legalities, NBC faces some practical hurdles with this plan: It's inconceivable that users won't find a workaround. In a world where a 17-year-old with a soldering gun can reconfigure the iPhone to work with non-AT&T carriers, surely some enterprising Web users will very quickly find a way to bypass NBC's time limit for downloads.