NBC said Wednesday that it would soon permit consumers to download many of its most popular programs to personal computers and other gadgets - initially free of charge - for one week after their broadcasts.
The service, set to start in November after a test in October, comes less than three weeks after the parent of the network, NBC Universal, said it was pulling its programs off iTunes. That partnership fell apart because of a dispute over Apple's iTunes pricing policies and what NBC executives said were concerns about lack of privacy protection.
NBC's move comes as companies throughout the television business search for new economic models in the face of enormous changes in the business. Networks continue to lose audience share, and viewers - especially many of the highly prized viewers under 30 - are increasingly demanding control of their program choices, insisting on being able to watch shows when, where and how they want.
At the same time, viewers are finding more ways, like digital video recorders, to avoid watching the commercials that have long provided the bulk of television revenue.
Jeff Gaspin, the president of the NBC Universal Television Group, said, "The shift from programmer to consumer controlling program choices is the biggest change in the media business in the past 25 or 30 years."www.siliconvalley.com