In a programming breakthrough for video on demand, CBS and NBC have both agreed to sell some of their top shows on demand.
CBS has agreed to provide television’s most powerful series, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, through Comcast VOD systems. CBS will sell weekly CSI, NCIS, Survivor and The Amazing Race. Weekly episodes will be available to Comcast subscribers for 99 cents each immediately after they air on CBS. Subscribers can order the episode for up to a week after the initial airing. To avoid conflicts with broadcast affiliates, the shows will initially be available only in Comcast cities where CBS owns the local broadcast station. But a wider rollout is expected to follow.
Meanwhile, NBC Universal has agreed to offer some of its better broadcast and cable shows at the same price “on-demand” through DirecTV.
Series include two spin-offs of Law & Order (but not the original series); Surface, and The Office; USA Network’s Monk; and Sci Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica, also within hours of its initial airing.The shows will be available nationwide, but only to subscribers who buy DirecTV’s new “Plus DVR,” which has a capacity of 100 hours. A satellite service can’t match the thousands of hours of programming a local cable system makes available on demand. But DirecTV plans to emulate cable VOD by feeding DVRs with some movies and TV series during off hours.
Cable's VOD systems have been starved for top programming.
While pay networks like HBO and Showtime have put up their best product, broadcast and even many basic cable networks have balked for fear of cannibalizing viewership and ad revenues on their core networks. The deals follow ABC's agreement to offer it's top shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives via Apple's Itunes at $1.99 per episode.