NBC upgraded its iPad app Thursday so users can watch entire shows on their tablets. The app, which was released on Thursday, has a wide range of information about its shows, schedules, exclusive images, games, and some full-length video. The network held off on featuring full episodes when the app was first released in June.
Starting Thursday evening, fans can watch all the content available on nbc.com on their NBC iPad app. That includes “pretty much everything” on the network, though the standard is to offer the five most recently aired shows, says Vivi Zigler, president of NBC Universal Digital Entertainment.
It’s clear the type of promotional value NBC is hoping to get from making short video content available through the app, but it’s more difficult to understand why NBC has decided not to support full-length episodes as well. After all, the network makes full episodes available in an ad-supported fashion on its NBC.com website, as well as on Hulu.com.
Though other networks, notably ABC and CBS, have offered full shows on their iPad apps for more than a year, Zigler says NBC “wanted to understand the business model mechanism” of the iPad before it moved forward.
Before Thursday’s upgrade, the app featured short clips from the network, but not full episodes. The new app also offers customization features that let you follow a show and have it automatically update in the app, rather than having to search for a new episode.
Providing access to content online and on demand has proven not to be cannibalistic, but complementary to live broadcasts, and can help the overall aggregate audience for a show. The NBC app was released more than a year after the introduction of ABC’s iPad app, which does allow viewers to watch full episodes of its shows on the tablet for free. Shows likeModern Family have seen a boost in overall viewership due to availability on ABC’s network site, as well as on Hulu and ABC’s iPad app.
The network also upgraded its NBC Live co-viewing app Thursday, to offer fans the ability to check in on Facebook and Twitter.