NBC content makes jump to Zune

'Office,' 'Heroes' among downloadable shows

That big, colorful screen on Microsoft's Zune device finally can be used for something other than music videos and song titles.

Eighteen months after the software giant unveiled Zune as its answer to Apple's ubiquitous iPod, it has struck a deal with several content companies that will provide it with 800 episodes of popular TV shows.

Most notable are shows from NBC, considering the network broke away from Apple's iTunes Store last year after a disagreement over pricing.

From the Peacock, the Zune Marketplace at Zune.net will sell episodes of "The Office," "Heroes" and "30 Rock." Also on the docket are "SpongeBob SquarePants" from Nickelodeon, "Battlestar Galactica" from Sci Fi Channel, "South Park" from Comedy Central and "The Hills" from MTV, among others.

Each episode will cost the equivalent of $1.99 in Microsoft Points, the currency of Zune.

"Partnering with Zune will allow us to develop innovative content offerings for their customers, including flexible pricing and packaging options beginning this fall," NBC Universal Digital Distribution president JB Perrette said.

Besides the episodes, the Zune Marketplace boasts 3.5 million songs, 4,800 music videos and 3,500 audio and video podcasts.

Zune's video offerings still pale compared with iTunes, which has a two-year jump on Zune. But both are beefing up their selections rapidly.