Sometimes I wonder if anything would have been different if iTunes offered tv shows for download over here. My bet is that I would indeed have bought a few shows every now and then, at least for the time being since I don’t have cable access. Tv shows, unfortunately, have gone the way of digital music. As soon as the networks realize that people might pay for it, that’s what they want. And then comes greed. And they just don’t stop. NBC left Apple, Apple then decided to kick them out, and for some reason they just decided to still put out a couple of brand new shows on iTunes (Chuck being one that I will personally follow).
Now since we don’t have a single service for downloading tv shows in Norway (from several networks), the networks are pretty much left to do the job themselves. The way they attack this is VERY different however…
The biggest network, NRK, decided to put pretty much everything online, everything that they produced or co-produced anyway. And it’s all free. It is in streaming Windows Media format however.
The second biggest network, TV2, decided to get greedy. And unlike the iTunes Store, you don’t pay per show. You pay a subscription, just like you do for your cable. $6 / week, $17 / month or $161 / year. Again, it’s all streaming Windows Media. So no possibility to download it, or play it on any other device. The network has 5 channels right now, but far from everything is available online. No movies. And no global tv shows, except for 24 which is crippled with DRM so that it doesn’t even work on the Mac. The feeds are straight from the ordinary broadcasts, so even if you pay extra, you still get the commercial breaks. A pretty lame service overall I have to say.
But then there are the select few who simply decide to go the exact opposite way for whatever reason. TV3 is a fairly small channel, part of the Viasat satellite network. They only have about 10 shows online, all of which are self produced. They also use Windows Media. BUT: there is no DRM. It is 100% free. And, the download is progressive, not streaming. What this means is that once the entire clip has loaded, you can save it to disk and play it back whenever you want. Or convert it for playback on your iPod. The quality is decent, a 45 minute show were just over 600 MB. 45 minutes you say? What a weird length! Yes, they actually CUT OUT the commercial breaks before putting it online. And did I mention it is completely free? I have no idea how, or why, but I love it! Way to go!
Update: seems that TV2 also in fact does progressive streaming, so that at least with Flip4Mac, it is easy to save the show to disk.