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NBC Universal Makes Big New Media Deals

NBC Universal
NBC Universal

It's a big day for CNBC's parent company, NBC Universal, aiming to move the company's TV distribution strategy to the next generation.

Goodbye Nielsen, Hello Google. NBCU and Google have made a multi-year deal to use Google's TV Ads Avertising platform to sell ads on some NBC cable channels. The deal is starting with ad inventory on Sci Fi, Oxygen, MSNBC, SLeuth, Chiller, and yes, CNBC with more channels in the future.

The idea is that Google can use the same technology that enables its web ads to be so targeted and accountable to improve cable TV advertising. Google TV ads have a deal with DISH network that allows Google to report second-by second TV usage data from Dish set top boxes. It's a whole new world of accountability--far more than Nielsen ratings. And the more specific the viewer information, the more NBC can charge for ads.

Then there's NBCU's new deal to distribute shows through Apple's iTunes, selling standard definition downloads for $1.99 per episode and high def downloads for $2.99 a pop, and older shows going for just 99 cents each. The library of shows available will include a number of its hit shows including "The Office" and "30 Rock," as well as a range of programming from its cable networks -- including USA and the Sci Fi Channel-- as well as NBC News Programming. More programs from Oxygen, Telemundo and NBC Sports, among others will be added down the line.

But this is hardly NBCU's first foray with iTunes; NBC used to distribute some shows through iTunes, and then pulled them last year. The issue was a dispute over payment. NBC wanted a tiered payment system, and iTunes wanted everything to cost the same. Now NBC says its getting its requested variable payment system and they're happy to be back in business.

At the end of the day, the solution to the transition to digital distribution seems to be all about letting consumers consume content when, where and how they want. Jeff Zucker said it on CNBC's air today "the key is to make our content available in as many places as possible... we want our content to be ubiquitous"

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.