NBC Universal and News Corp are teaming to distribute free TV shows and movies via the three large portals -- AOL, MSN, Yahoo -- and social networking site MySpace. The initiative will launch this summer, with what the networks say are "thousands of hours" of full-length TV programs and movies.
With this deal, NBC and News Corp take aim at Google's YouTube, as well as at companies hoping to enter the burgeoning Web TV field. Just several weeks ago, Joost -- a start-up from the creators of Kazaa and Skype -- announced it will soon start offering ad-supported versions of a host of Viacom programs. Similarly BitTorrent Vice President and General Manager of Consumer Services Eric Patterson said at OMMA Hollywood that the company plans to start offering ad-supported TV programs by the end of the year.
The move also comes around six months after NBC launched its own Web syndication service, National Broadband Company, or NBBC --which appears to compete with the new venture. At the time, Randy Falco -- then president and chief operating officer of NBC Universal Television Group, now AOL's chairman -- said, "In short, we're getting back into the broadcasting business, on the Internet."
But NBBC was focused -- at least initially -- on short clips of less than seven minutes, while the new joint NBC/News Corp service aims to distribute full-length shows. At launch, shows that will be available via the joint venture include "Heroes," "24," "House," "Saturday Night Live," and "The Simpsons." Movies slated for free distribution include "Borat," "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Devil Wears Prada." Cadbury Schweppes, Cisco, Esurance, Intel Corporation and General Motors have signed on as charter advertisers.