NBC Launches Direct Video Downloads

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 11, 2007
Updated • Dec 16, 2012
Music and Video

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.


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  1. Anonymous said on August 1, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Why not make use of the mplayer.conf?

  2. Mike J said on August 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Huh, I have never even seen this “font cache” pane; videos play at once for me, using VLC & XP SP3.

    1. Martin said on August 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm

      Mike, in theory this should have only been displayed once to you, at the very first video that you played with VLC. The time this window is displayed depends largely on the number of fonts in your font directory.

      1. Mike J said on August 2, 2010 at 2:30 pm

        huh, I lucked out for a change?? Amazing!!
        Apparently VLC keeps this info through version updates, but I didn’t see this message after a fresh OS install about 8 weeks ago, & a new VLC.

  3. myo said on August 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    yes, yes, i have the same problem. sometimes, VLC crashes when it is playing .mov file.

  4. Kishore said on August 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Buidling font Cache pop-up


    Open VLC player.

    On Menu Bar:


    (at bottom – left side)
    Show settings — ALL

    Open: Video
    Click: Subtitles/OSD (This is now highlited, not opened)
    Text rendering module – change this to “Dummy font renderer function”


    Re-open – done.
    Progam will no longer look outside self for fonts

    Source – WorthyTricks.co.cc

    1. Martin said on August 13, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      Great tip, thanks a lot Kishore.

  5. javier said on August 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    @Kishore, I’ll try your tips, but does this mean it will no longer show subtitles either?
    I do use subtitles, but the fontcache dialog box pops up (almost) everytime I play a file.

    Could this be related to the fonts I have installed? Or if I add/remove fonts to my system?

    I’ll try to do a fresh install also, if your tips does no work. I’ll post back here later…


  6. Kishore said on August 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    @ Javier, The trick i posted will show up subtitles too. If not,

  7. Kishore said on August 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    @ Javier, The trick i posted will show up subtitles too. If not,Dont worry, VLC is currently sorting out this issue and the next version will be out soon.

    No probs @ Martin !! Its my pleasure

  8. Ted said on October 22, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Try running LC with administrator privileges. That seemed to fix it for me

  9. Evan said on December 8, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I am using SMplayer 0.8.6 (64-bit) (Portable Edition) on Windows 7 x64. Even with the -nofontconfig parameter in place SMplayer still scans the fonts. Also, I have enabled normal subtitles and it is still scanning fonts before playing a video. Also, it does this every time the player opens a video after a system restart (only the fist video played).

  10. Mike Williams said on September 6, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Does that mean that only instrumental versions of songs will be available for non-paying users?

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