Television viewers in 10 U.S. markets are now able to watch their local NBC stations live on computers and mobile devices—as long as they are paying customers.
Although the stations are available for free with an antenna, NBC is limiting its free online streaming to cable and satellite TV subscribers. Viewers will need to sign in with their provider's account information, akin to an approach ABC has taken. CBS doesn't require a cable or satellite subscription, but it charges $6 a month for its CBS All Access service.
The 10 NBC markets cover New York, Los Angeles and other regions where NBC owns the local station. NBC affiliates, which carry NBC programs but are owned by others, are expected to be added throughout the year.
Wednesday's announcement comes as television channels look for ways to reach audiences on additional screens. Many cable channels have been offering live and on-demand streaming on personal computers, smartphones and tablets, typically with a cable or satellite TV subscription required.
In requiring a pay-TV subscription, NBC is making it difficult for viewers to drop their cable or satellite service. A few channels, including HBO, Nickelodeon and Showtime, plan to make content available as stand-alone subscriptions. But most channels are taking the same approach as NBC in making viewers pay as part of a broader subscription package.
NBC viewers in the 10 markets will be able to watch by visiting their local station's website—like www.nbcnewyork.com in New York—or downloading the station's app on Apple or Android devices. The sites and apps will also offer on-demand content, though local news will be available only live at first. Viewers won't be able to pause or rewind live streams, nor will they be able to watch on regular TVs through apps on streaming devices such as Roku.
NBC already live-streams major sports events like the Olympics nationally online and on mobile apps for paying subscribers, and that's expected to continue.
But NFL games that play on NBC will be blocked on mobile devices because Verizon has those rights.
Hulu will continue to offer on-demand archives of network shows, typically the day after their broadcasts.
The 10 stations available for live streaming are:
— WMAQ in Chicago
— KXAS in Dallas-Fort Worth
— WVIT in Hartford-New Haven, Connecticut
— KNBC in Los Angeles
— KNSD in San Diego
— KNTV in the San Francisco-San Jose
— WTVJ in Miami-Fort Lauderdale
— WNBC in New York
— WCAU in Philadelphia
— WRC in Washington
Explore further: Comcast, NBC to sell 1 TV station in Los Angeles