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Free TV That You Have To Pay For. Kinda.

ahnh.jpgVariety reports that NBC will put previews of its four new fall pilots on cable and satellite systems, including DirecTV.

“It’s unprecedented in terms of its scope and participation,” says NBCU distribution executive Henry Ahn. The episodes will be available for about two weeks beginning Sept. 10, and cable operators will also offer a 30-minute NBC fall preview special, along with trailers, exclusive scenes and viral videos.

The pact comes as the cable companies push broadcasters for more on-demand content, seeing it as a revenue driver and a competitive edge against satellite. But the networks have been leery because they don’t want to upset tier affiliates — and they want to be paid for their programs. NBC and CBS both offer some VOD programming for about $1 per show. NBC isn’t getting cash for its previews, but is getting valuable promotional time, as much as 350 local spots to tout its fall line-up. “We’re getting millions and millions of dollars worth of advertising impressions,” Ahn notes.

And, once again, we’re going to ask: What is the networks’ problem with YouTube?

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