NBC To Debut 'Conviction' Free On iTunes--Before It Airs On TV

In a move to create buzz for its new Dick Wolf-drama "Conviction," NBC is making the premiere episode available free via iTunes--10 days before it airs on the network.

NBC says this is the first time a show has launched on iTunes before it hits the airwaves, although networks increasingly are making premiere episodes available prior to broadcast via the Internet or DVD as a promotional tactic.

In NBC's case, the network attributes some of the recent increases in ratings for comedy "The Office" to its availability on iTunes and hopes to replicate that success with "Conviction."

One theory holds that people who watch shows via iTunes tend to be cutting-edge and cultural influencers, so their recommendations create interest and drive others to tune in to the linear broadcast. "They're the people who figure out what's cool before anyone else, presumably," said Josh Bernoff, a media analyst at Forrester Research.

"Conviction" premieres after the Olympics on March 3 (10 p.m. ET/PT) as part of NBC's revamped Friday lineup. From Dick Wolf, the creator of the "Law & Order" franchise, the show focuses on the work and social lives of young assistant district attorneys in New York.



As with "The Office" and other NBC shows, after "Conviction" premieres, episodes will be available on iTunes for $1.99 a pop.

The free iTunes premiere will be noted in on-air promos for "Conviction." NBC also announced the initiative in an "NBC Studio Pass" e-mail to consumers yesterday, and will promote it on NBC Universal Web properties.

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