NBC continues experiment by putting TV shows online before their network premiers

If you just can’t wait to see what the new “Knight Rider” or “Chuck” TV shows are all about, you’re in luck. For the third consecutive year, NBC is making new series available online a week before their network premiers.

You can also find “Kath & Kim,” “Crusoe,” “My Own Worst Enemy,” “Life,” Lipstick Jungle,” and “30 Rock” everywhere you look — NBC’s Website, iTunes, Amazon’s Unbox, Microsoft Xbox and Zune, Hulu, and through TV providers such as Comcast, Cox, Charter, Dish, and Verizon FIOS.

Did NBC leave anybody out?

“We want to make (programs) available in as many ways as we can so we can get fans,” NBC’s marketing boss John Miller told USA Today. “If you don’t embrace people’s behavior, you can be lost by it.”

NBC’s early-release strategy is at odds with most other networks.


After offering “Jericho” last year, CBS is putting nothing online this season. Oddly, it’s screening pilots of “Worst Week” and “Gary Unlimited” on American Airlines flights since Sept. 1. It’s also screening “Worst Week” and “The Ex List” at 10 universities.


“Samantha Who?” “Pushing Daisies,” and “Ugly Betty” will go online this week, but only in approximately six minute clips. That’s hardly worth the effort and teasing to watch.


The network offers no advanced premiers this year after serving up “K-Ville” and “Back to You” last season. “Fringe” (potentially my favorite new show) and “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” were streamed at the same time they aired on TV, but only to on-campus computer users.

Bill Bradford, senior vice president at Fox, told USA Today, “I don’t think anybody’s reached the sweet spot yet in terms of Internet viewing of television.”


The CW held back the pilot of the much-hyped return of “90210” until its debut. It streamed two shows last year on Yahoo, only to see them fail.

As USA Today notes, the strategy of streaming TV shows before their premiers is risky business, although there is no definitive answer whether it helps or hurts a show’s chance for success. It can build positive word of mouth (what NBC hopes for) or it can spread the news that a show is a dog (what The CW experienced last year).

Either way, kudos to NBC for experimenting again. Raspberries to ABC, CBS, Fox, and The CW for wimping out.

, , , ,

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

One Response to “NBC continues experiment by putting TV shows online before their network premiers”

  1. David Mackey says:

    I must admit I am fascinated by Fringe as well…Abrams seems to be setting a good track record thus far, but the show still has a ways before its full nature will be revealed. I know Abrams is trying to differentiate the series from the X-Files, but I personally loved X-Files, so I don’t think he needs to separate too far. One big issue for me will be whether he decides to include the “monster of the week” arc like X-Files had or attempts to stay with this super-myth arc. I’m going to insist that doing the latter will be disastrous in the long-term and that he should embrace the “monster of the week” motif.

Leave a Reply