NBC Launching VOD Service — What about Hulu?

NBC will offer its top television shows as ad-supported downloads for up to a week after broadcast on a new service called “NBC Direct” that will launch this fall, the network is announcing today. It seems we’re not the only ones scratching our heads waiting for this whole Hulu thing, the joint venture between NBC U and News Corp (NWS). Outside competitors like YouTube and Amazon Unbox (AMZN) aren’t the only ones benefiting from Hulu’s delays (the latest estimate for a private beta is also October of this year). In the interim, both NBC U and News Corp are launching their own competitors to their joint venture.

MySpace has been putting serious resources into MySpace TV, buying rights to shows like quarterlife and the Lonelygirl15 season finale. Now NBC — which has been very publicly negotiating pulling its content off iTunes, leading many of us to wonder where we’ll watch our NBC shows — is creating a competitor of its own.

NBC said, via an emailed press release, that NBC Direct will offer Heroes, The Office, Life, Bionic Woman, 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at launch. While at first, ad-supported Windows downloads will be the only option, automatic delivery, Apple (AAPL) and portable device compatibility, download-to-own, rental, and subscription models are also planned. NBC also said it was working on high-resolution versions delivered through a closed peer-to-peer network.

Update: NBC responds to this article via email:

“NBC Direct isn’t competing with Hulu, it’s complimentary and in-line with our strategy of offering consumers multiple ways to access our content. NBC Direct is an extension of NBC.com, so it’s no more of a competitor than NBC.com is today – which focuses on offering a deeper fan experience. Hulu is intended to provide a broad entertainment experience, of which NBC is one part, made available to a massive audience.”

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