I'm a bit puzzled by the recent launch of NBC's Direct, a video downloads website just a few weeks after launching Hulu together with News Corp. Direct Video Downloads sound nice at first glance which is exactly what users would like. Instead of watching the tv episodes at Hulu online they can now download the videos and watch them whenever they feel fit to do it.
There are however several catches which really reduce the attractiveness and quality of this new video download service. The service uses DRM, works with Internet Explorer, requires a NBC Direct software to download and view the movies and requires you to have a IP from the United States.
The selection is limited at this time offering episodes from The Office, 30 Rock, Life, Bionic Woman, Friday Night Lights at this time and only the latest episode is available for download at NBC Direct. The service seems to be rather unstable at this moment because my first tries of launching the NBC Direct player ended in an offline (Storefront is offline) notice.
What's even worse is that there is no way to try to reconnect to the service from within the player and I did not have the impression that the player tried to auto connect to it either. Closing the player and opening it again was the only solution that I could come up with.
It should also be mentioned that downloaded tv episodes will not be in your library forever. You have got two days after hitting the play button for the first time to watch the video which will become defunct after that period.
To sum it up. The pros are that the NBC Direct service is free at the moment. Cons are that it uses DRM, only works with Internet Explorer, requires a proprietary software, offers only five tv shows and only one episode of them at any given time, has connection issues and lets the users watch the tv episodes in a period of 48 hours after pressing play for the first time.
NBC should really take a look at Torrent sites to see how such a service could be created that would be successful.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.