Both NBC Universal and CBS announced deals to put some of their shows out via video-on-demand networks today, selling individual episodes for 99 cents each (half the price Apple is charging for ABC shows for iPods). NBC's deal is with DirecTV, which will sell commercial-free versions of some shows made in-house by the network that run on its broadcast or cable channels; Comcast will sell its viewers versions of four CBS series, just hours after they go out on the air, with commercials still included -- but only in Comcast markets with CBS affiliates owned by the network. This is a sizable shift for the broadcast networks, which have resisted VOD offerings and even DVRs. But like the "start over" feature NBC announced with Time Warner, they're little more than a start. A limited number of shows, a limited number of markets -- this will probably be met with limited interest, particularly when people can buy DVR service for about $10 a month. Broadcast networks need to figure out a comprehensive strategy to move away from the rigid broadcast schedule -- if somebody wants to watch a show, why are the networks so insistent that it must be watched on their schedule?
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