NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -
NBC Universal is reportedly close to making some of its shows available for the video iPod.
The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that NBC Universal, a General Electric (Research) unit, and Apple Computer (Research) are close to announcing a major licensing pact that will make programs from the NBC broadcast network as well its cable networks, such as USA Network and the Sci Fi Channel, available for download-on-demand viewing through Apple's iTunes store.
Details were not yet available, and officials with the companies wouldn't comment to the trade publication about their plans. But the report said the agreement could include a variety of genres, including prime time series and NBC's late-night franchises "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and possibly "Saturday Night Live."
The newspaper reported there was speculation that the deal could involve downloads of highlights from NBC Universal's coverage of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, in February.
The Apple video iPod, which has a 2.5-inch screen and can hold up to 150 hours of video or up to 15,000 songs, debuted in October.
Apple so far has a deal with Walt Disney Co. (Research) to provide some of the shows from its ABC and Disney Channel networks on the video iPod for $1.99 per program. It also has music videos and video podcasts available for the device.
Reuters quoted George Bodenheimer, president of ABC Sports and the ESPN cable sports network, as saying ESPN could join its sister networks and make programming available on the iPod. ESPN is already offering some of its programing on cell phones with video service, including an ESPN-branded cell phone, Mobile ESPN, which went on sale online the Friday after Thanksgiving.
"We're not just in the TV business anymore ... We're going to the table as a sports media company," Bodenheimer told Reuters about the company's plans to expand its programming to different media players.
NBC Universal also recently announced a deal to make some of its programming available in an on-demand format for customers of DirecTV satellite television. Under the agreement, it will let viewers watch commercial-free versions of some of its programs for 99 cents whenever they want during the week after they originally air.
TiVo (Research), a digital video recorder service that lets customers easily record programs, also has announced plans to let people download shows they recorded on their DVRs to a video iPod or PlayStation Portable devices, creating some competition for the networks' plans to sell the programs over iTunes.
For a look at the brave new world for old-time television networks, click here.
For a look at ESPN's plans to put sports and sports highlights in your pocket, click here.