Take that, iPod: NBC, CBS to Offer On Demand Shows for 99 Cents

Two of the biggest broadcast networks in the United States announced separate deals last week to supply on-demand TV content to viewers for 99 cents an episode, sparking what many analysts believe will be the long, slow death of free TV. NBC Universal is teaming with satellite TV operator DirecTV to provide customers of that system with access to content from NBC, Bravo, USA, and Sci-Fi Channel. Meanwhile, CBS has inked a deal with Comcast Cable to provide cable subscribers with similar on-demand access to its shows. In both cases, new shows will be available on-demand about 1 hour after their live air time. What's interesting about these deals is that they're cheaper than the TV shows that Apple Computer offers for its video iPod but come with none of the inconveniences: The on-demand shows are available in full-screen quality, don't require lengthy download times to a separate PC and synchronization to a device, and can be completely controlled via the remote control that customers already use. On the other hand, they're not as portable as the iPod solution. My verdict? DirecTV and Comcast 1, iPod 0

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