NBC to offer free "NBC Direct" download service, iTunes competitor

Apparently a move to Amazon Unbox isn't all that's in the cards for NBC's lineup of television programming, newly free of those iTunes shackles. The company is going to start testing a new NBC Direct service in October with full, free downloadable episodes which can be stored up to seven days on Windows PCs. The shows will be on offer for a week as soon as they've aired, and will include imbedded, un-skippable ads. But that's just for starters, apparently NBC wants to eventually transform the service into an iTunes-competitor, with pay-to-download episodes. "We did this to eliminate the middleman," says NBC's Jeff Gaspin. That they did, and we suppose we finally know what NBC was talking about when it comes to "packaging options."

[Thanks, Webon]