Episodes to be available online for free over holidays

Forget TiVo. And iTunes, for that matter.

NBC is making all previously aired episodes from the first half of the season of “30 Rock” and “Friday Night Lights” available for free streaming over the holidays.

The first nine episodes of “Friday Night Lights” and the first seven of “30 Rock” were archived on NBC.com, in addition to 2-minute recaps. Viewers must watch an unskippable ad before each episode begins.

“We think it’s a great way to recruit new viewers, especially college kids who are home for Christmas break,” said Jeff Gaspin, NBC U president of cable entertainment and digital distribution.

Since NBC U owns both shows outright, it has the rights to archive them. NBC’s digital rights to other shows, such as “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” limit the time and manner in which they can be used online.

Beyond “30 Rock” and “Friday Night Lights,” the net has limited digital rights to a number of other skeins, including “Heroes,” “Kidnapped,” “Passions,” “Las Vegas,” and “My Name Is Earl,” that allows it to stream them online for a week after their initial airing. The deals don’t permit archiving past episodes.

The promotion with “Friday Night Lights” and “30 Rock” will expire with the next firstrun episode of each show, in mid-January.

Gaspin estimates NBC will have streamed 30 million full episodes online in the fourth quarter, with viewers spending on average 43 minutes with each show.

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