So it's October 1st, the beginning of a big month for NBC. Hulu is set to launch in private beta, NBC is now iTunes-free, and NBC Direct is rumored to take off any day now. So what is NBC going to be doing with their network sites?
From the looks of it, the NBC.com redesign is presenting with a more "youthful" (read widgeted ala MySpace) look. Everything lives in widget like windows that upon activation will either spillover onto the page or redirect you to a new page. This is all part of an effort being called "My NBC" that will feature social networking, video viewing, etc.
I get where NBC is going and it's refreshing to see a mainstream media juggernaut really trying to reinvent their home site just before the beta launch of their new video offerings. My only question is this: do most users go to NBC to get their schedule (which now has much higher prominence on the homepage, NBC gets a star for that one), to watch complete episodes, to view clips, or to interact with programming in a whole new "social" way?
From the looks of it NBC's new redesign is seeking to keep their streaming audience while pushing users to register and join the "hardcore" fans who care to interact with their programs and characters all week long. (side note: I've heard too many "2.0"ers ripping on broadcast media's character blogs. What seems to be forgotten is that not every feature on every site is meant for everyone. Just because I want a passive video viewing experience doesn't mean that networks shouldn't have added features for hardcore fans. Now back to the show.)
This isn't going to be a MySpace killer, nor will it kill the many user controlled forums across the internet. It may however, serve as a base of operations for a broader distributed network of sites and offering from NBC as they diversify their digital strategy. Overall, I would encourage everyone to check out their new redesign and then compare and contrast it with their old design (at this point still serving over at www.nbcdirect.com). I can't place my finger on it, but the design, coloring and layout just feel refreshing. Aside from a couple of interesting (and I'm sure temporary) flaws including a large square of dead space on the far right corner of the screen (could this be a placeholder for Hulu or NBC Direct?), I'd like to thank NBC for speaking to all of their users - even those of us who only want quick and easy access to a schedule - in their redesign.
Here's to what is sure to be an exciting October!