Too Much Free Time

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
design by committee, tv downloads

NBC Direct: Why Designing Consumer Entertainment Services By Committee Is A Dumb Idea

from the i-know,-we'll-make-it-suck dept

Even as NBC is working with Fox on their "Hulu" online video effort, the company, which has shown a stunning lack of understanding of the trends and economics it faces, has launched its NBC Direct video download offering that is noteworthy only for the amount of scorn being heaped upon it from almost every reviewer out there. It appears to have made every single mistake in the book. Limited only to Windows users with IE, draconian DRM, bizarre policies that make the content expire quickly and, of course, clunky software that's difficult to set up and use. Excellent work. Perhaps if NBC spent a little less time worrying about poor corn farmers and a little more on actually providing a product that people wanted, it would get somewhere. Instead, it seems pretty clear that Jeff Nolan is exactly right in describing what happened here. NBC Direct was designed by committee. A bunch of different groups had their say and wanted to make sure this or that "feature" (i.e., "restriction") got added, so as not to interfere with some other plan. None of those people were concerned about the overall product or (gasp!) the customer experience. So what you get is a totally unusable (and, really, who would want to?) service that was a total waste of time and effort by NBC. And, this is the company that's blaming Apple for destroying the entertainment business? Compare NBC's approach to how Apple designs its products, with a strict focus on how it will be used by the consumer. For all the blame NBC is throwing at Apple, it might want to take a look at itself first.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    The Swiss Cheese Monster, Nov 13th, 2007 @ 1:04am

    To be fair

    It is fun to blame Apple for failure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    dorpus, Nov 13th, 2007 @ 1:11am

    Apple doesn't use committees?

    So how does Apple "listen to its customers"? Are we sure there are no customer committees? Could it be that customers are diverse, and listening to all of them would create a totally unusable product that nobody wants?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. Only when they deserve it

    You mean like making a product that has a battery you can't replace? I'm sure that design decision came from customer surveys that they used.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Todd Jensen, Nov 13th, 2007 @ 5:10am

    I think More Like...

    Having downloads that you can watch on your portable player, being able to keep your content after you download it, the ability to play the content on existing software.

    There is really no reason to use NBC's new service. Might as well just watch the regular streaming version.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    WarOtter (profile), Nov 13th, 2007 @ 5:40am

    A character in HellGate says it best

    One of the NPC's in HellGate: London says it best-

    'When you mod my equipment, it MAY explode. That's a fuckin feature!'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    EF, Nov 13th, 2007 @ 6:03am

    You Apple bashers are missing the point

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Deirdre, Nov 13th, 2007 @ 6:34am

    The Browser/OS thing

    I'm actually watching a Bionic Woman episode right now on Ubuntu and Firefox. The site does say I have to have IE. Maybe NBC doesn't know there are other browsers and operating systems.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Nov 13th, 2007 @ 7:18am

    Re: The Browser/OS thing

    I tried to watch Heroes with Firefox but it wouldn't do it until I disabled Adblock. It would get locked on the video ad that plays before the feature starts. It worked fine after that, just took thirty extra seconds to load the five banner ads on the page.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Matt, Nov 13th, 2007 @ 8:01am

    At least they are trying

    I know that NBC has a long way to go and I am not denying that their download service lacks credibility but at least they are attempting to offer free video via the internet.
    It is pretty hard to turn around a 50-60 year old company in such a short time (I know some will respond that TV via the internet has been around for a long time but I am speaking in relative terms).
    I'm not saying we shouldn't criticize but at least pay lip service to the fact that NBC is trying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Sean C., Nov 13th, 2007 @ 2:10pm

    Re: At least they are trying

    I agree that NBC is making a good step forward to making their content available. I have not yet gotten an invitation to Hulu, but I can go to NBC Direct and watch an entire episode with my Firefox browser. I still wish that NBC and WB would get their act together so that we could legally watch an ER episode that we miss (stupid Gray's Anatomy being 1:07 long now!).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    mlisaoverdrive, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 11:57am

    Re: I think More Like...

    Except for the fact that NBC's streaming version is horrible, what with its craptacular player and kludgey ad viewer that forces you to re-set video options each and every time they show a commercial.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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