Apple says NBC got no special treatment to return to iTunes

The newly rekindled relationship between NBC and iTunes is off to a rocky start already. Apple has made a public refute after NBC announced it came back thanks to Apple being flexible on pricing of programming.

It was only Tuesday that Apple announced NBC programs would again be available for purchase on iTunes. The pair parted ways roughly a year ago over claims that NBC wanted a cut of Apple's iPod profits and more control over the pricing of its shows on the iTunes service.

CNET News reports that an executive from NBC Universal suggested recently that NBC agreed to come back to iTunes with its TV shows after Apple offering more flexibility to set the price for NBC shows. JB Perrette said that the pricing flexibility led to NBC agreeing to come back to iTunes.

According to Perrette, NBC was offered the chance to sell HD programs on iTunes for $2.99 per episode and catalog shows at $0.99 per episode. Perrette also said Apple offered NBC the chance to bundle programs and charge what it wanted for the bundles.

Apple's VP in charge of the iTunes store, Eddy Cue, says that NBC is not getting a special deal. According to Cue, all of the things NBC points out that it was allowed to do to return to iTunes were already available on the service.

Cue says for example that while most shows on iTunes sell for $1.99, content providers have always had the option of charging less for their programming. Illustrating the point, Cue says Viacom has offered episodes of some of its shows -- South Park and The Hills -- for $.99 before. Cue also points out that all HD programs on iTunes are $2.99 per episode.

Content packages are also nothing new to iTunes. Cue told CNET News, "If you look at some of the things we've done for holidays, we've had holiday packages with shows with the right themes. We've done things in the past with big name actors so we've packaged those things in the past."

It may strike some as a bit odd that Apple would jump up to burst NBC's bubble when NBC apparently thought it had received special treatment. On the other hand, Apple likely didn’t want to give other content providers the idea it was offering special deals to NBC, which could lead to other content providers asking for special treatment.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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