NBC to put new primetime shows online for free

The race to put TV on the internet continues with an announcement today from NBC that all of their new prime time shows will stream for free this fall. Each show will have a cast member, creator or producer “host a live blog immediately after the premiere episode,” according to the episode. Does this mean a live chat or several blog posts with comments enabled and responded to? One way or the other, it’s an interesting attempt to turn a streaming broadcast into a public event.

On October 1st, the NBC Universal video player will undergo an upgrade for the shows and will offer a high-resolution, large-format version. See our post yesterday about the new NBC Universal online video marketplace NBBC for a look at the simple but clean looking player the company offers now. NBC also offers some shows on iTunes.

“When you launch a new season,” Jeff Gaspin from NBC says, “it’ s important that you get the shows in front of as many eyeballs as possible.” Well, at least as many as is possible with streaming not downloads and through your player and not on YouTube. Though to be fair, NBC has made up with YouTube to some extent.

NBC’s announcement follows yesterday’s news from AT&T, who have teamed with MobiTV to offer their broadband customers 20 streaming channels of cable and made-for-broadband TV, including Bloomberg Television, HGTV, Food Network, History Channel, Oxygen, Maxx Sports and the Weather Channel. That service will cost $20 per month and aims in time to offer a wider catalog of channels viewable on PC, TV and mobile devices.

I personally would be more likely to pay $20 a month to get the some news and sports channels on my phone than I would sit through free primetime TV on my computer and chat with TV producers. Blake Robinson at CrunchGear covered this today as well though, and he says that some of the shows set to stream will be well worth watching.