Friday, September 28, 2007

NBC iSucks

I'd like to add my name to the list of Office fans disappointed by NBC's decision to move the episodes online rather than on iTunes.

This old blog entry from TAUW details how iTunes essentially saved The Office's ass when NBC first agreed to put the show's episodes online. (I can only dream of what might have happened for Arrested Development had iTunes had video back in 2004...) But NBC seems drunk and greedy with success. The NYTimes reported that Apple claimed NBC had demanded that the episode charge increase by three dollars, from $1.99 to $4.99 per episode. (NBC denies this claim and says they wanted a higher wholesale price, not retail.)

But who cares about all those numbers and figures when you just want to rewatch that really cute scene from last night's episode where Jim takes Pam's hand while they walk blissfully together down the sunny sidewalk? Answer: Nobody.

And so, today when I wanted to watch aforementioned scene, I was totally willing to accept that NBC had moved its shows online--even happy since two of my three favorite shows air on NBC (The Office and Heroes). But when streaming video is constantly interrupted because of your average shitty Comcast signal and the throngs of other fans trying to access the same tools, it's enough to make you want to turn back on The Office and run to the sheltering, all-American arms of of to curl up with a rerun of The Bachelor.

Speaking of which, how is it that ABC's video quality is soooo gooooood? My third favorite show is Ugly Betty. I used to relish in purposely missing its Thursday night airtime and then curling up Friday afternoon with a cup of hot chocolate (or a glass of Riesling, but who's counting?) and watching the beauty that is ABC's streaming full screen video. Meanwhile, somewhere in a distant universe, some Office fan screams in agony as NBC's grainy stuff (that people outside of the U.S. can't watch, by the way) stutters and stumbles its way across the Internet.

NBC says that by November, us Office fans will be able to subscribe to a weekly download service where we can watch the last episode of The Office for free on our computers for one week. Afterward, it will somehow self-destruct, a la Mission Impossible and/or Tom Cruise's dignity.

The next advancement for NBC's viewers will be when they can do exactly what they were doing on iTunes--legally pay for the episodes, download them to their computers and watch them on repeat to their hearts' content. But don't hold your breath because NBC says to expect that to happen by...drumroll...mid-2008.

Until then, I'll accept that NBC has pushed me toward lawlessness on Youtube or wherever else I can watch Angela crush Dwight with another rolly chair.

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