957. I think someone's figured out that the quickest way to generate buzz is that you think you're going to be some sort of competition for iPod (in which case, I fell for it too. However!).
Tipped off by this post by b!X at Furious NADS!, I read the NYT article attached to the link. What I think the core of it is is this (emphasis mine);
NBC first contracted with Amazon to offer its programs for sale to downloading devices like MP3 players. Now it is establishing its own downloading service, which NBC executives say they expect to become a viable competitor to iTunes.
“With the creation of this new service, we are acknowledging that now, more than ever, viewers want to be in control of how, when and where they consume their favorite entertainment,” said Vivi Zigler, the executive vice president of NBC Digital Entertainment. “Not only does this feature give them more control, but it also gives them a higher quality video experience.”
The idea of a free download with an expiration date is risible in the extreme, and I laugh upon it. How having a show you can't skip though the commercials gives one more control is a mystery. Higher quality video experience? My iPod's screen is nice, but it's not that big...actually, even most crappy video content looks good on it.
But why even mention being a competitor to iTunes when they offer a limited range of content with an expiry date? They aren't really even the same thing. However, saying they feel they have a viable competitor to iTunes will get people talking about it. Maybe they're working on the "any publicity is good publicity" model.
Something tells me the should have just stuck it out with Apple, and kept selling things though iTunes. How this is going to put them ahead is anybody's guess.