While NBC Universal is making deals left and right to try to make up for the fact that it is no longer distributing its digital TV shows through iTunes, don’t get distracted by all the small-fry announcements. For instance, today it announced that it would make NBC shows available to SanDisk for its new Sansa TakeTV/Fanfare service. Is anyone going to buy a USB TV device from SanDisk? We’ll see.
In the meantime, NBC has something brewing that could actually make a difference to the digital-download appeal on its own site, NBC Direct. NBC will soon start using peer-to-peer technology from Pando to distribute its downloads, a story StreamingMedia broke a couple weeks ago. Yesterday at the Web Video Summit in New York City, where I was moderating a panel, I was able to confirm that a stripped-down version of Pando’s technology will be incorporated into the NBC Direct video player. I also learned something new. The reason NBC wants to go with P2P technology is because it wants to start distributing high-definition videos. Pando’s P2P system can help NBC not just to lower the cost of distributing large files, but also to differentiate itself with HD video downloads. No special Vudu box or SanDisk USB video device will be necessary.
NBC will be betting big on HD to drive viewership of Web video. It is already playing around with HD streams on Hulu, its joint venture with News Corp. And it is not going to be just NBC. HD video is going to come to the Web a lot faster than most people think. It may even come to many people’s computer screens before it comes to their TV screens. Just think about that for a second. If you can get a better viewing experience off the Web than you can on your TV, that might just be the incentive you need to really start shifting away from TV.