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  (Source: NBC)
NBC has found a new home for its TV content:

It may be nearing the end of summer, but last week proved particularly heated, as media giants Apple and NBC Universal exchanged terse statements.

The dispute began when NBC Universal decided not to renew its contract to sell its TV content on iTunes.  DailyTech reported on Friday, that the two parties were parting ways, and that after the contract's expiration in December, iTunes would no longer sell NBC's TV programming, including the popular shows, "Heroes," “30 Rock” and "The Office."

NBC openly admitted that much of the dispute was over pricing, as well as NBC wanting the ability to package content together as it chose.

The split was not the first between Apple and a major media provider.  In June, the
Universal Music Group of Vivendi (UMG) announced that it would not be renewing its contract with iTunes, and would no longer sell its music on iTunes.  The move was thought to be partially instigated by Apple's slow adoption of DRM-free music technology.  UMG's artists included pop, rock, and rap acts such Akon, Rhianna and U2.

NBC was the first major television content producer to drop iTunes, though. 
ABC, CBS, FOX and The CW, along with more than 50 cable networks still provided shows with iTunes.  Further, NBC was one of iTunes' largest content providers, providing 30% of iTunes sales of TV content.

DailyTech recently chronicled the next episode in the Apple and NBC saga, with the breaking news that the conflict heating up, following the release of a statement from Apple.  Apple claimed in its statement that NBC had demanded an astronomic 150% price increase from $1.99 per episode, to $4.99 episode.  Further Apple decided to drop NBC's content early, in September, before the start of the next television season.

iTunes VP Eddy Cue is quoted by DailyTech as saying, "We are disappointed to see NBC Universal leave iTunes because we would not agree to their dramatic price increase, we hope they will change their minds and offer their TV shows to the tens of millions of iTunes customers."

Now there is more headline news in the evolving drama between Apple and NBC, with the entry of a new player: reports that NBC plans to sell its content through Amazon's Amazon Unbox service, in a "variety of packages". 

Pricing and terms were not disclosed, but many speculate that offered some of the concessions in price increases that iTunes would not.  Also, the announcement clearly indicates that Amazon is willing to provide NBC with the ability to control its show's content, something Apple would not do.  The article also states that NBC had been unhappy with Apple's failure to provide stronger anti-piracy measures.

While NBC did not specify prices for episodes under the new agreement, it did mention that there would be discounts to customers purchasing entire seasons of NBC TV shows.  Also pilot episodes will be available to download free of charge.

Fans of NBC programming can be happy to know that they will be able to download the TV shows--from someplace--though they may have to pay more for it.

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Price Thoughts
By JasonMick on 9/5/2007 9:38:28 AM , Rating: 5
Without knowing the prices, here are my thoughts:

I can't see a price of over $2.99 being very marketable.

I mean, die-hard fanatics of shows, might download still, but you are losing vast amounts of casual fans due to insistence on charging a premium for exclusive comment.

There is a definite, and disturbing trend in media to try to bump up the prices, repackage, and otherwise increase in price, content that is deemed exclusive and is not available commercially on DVD or network broadcast.

Examples range from sports, such as the Big Ten network debacle, to television companies wanting price increases on their TV shows. IMO, $1.99 is pushing competitive boundaries, as is (or was).

In a few months someone can rent 4-5 episodes at Blockbusters/on Netflix for $4.99 or less, less that $1.25 an episode. There's little to stop them from copying this content if they are computer saavy.

Video rental services are not a perfect option--there should be an alternative--as they only get content after the season is over and stale. Of course people could just go and buy a Tivo, but with modern technology it seems fitting to provide fans with a reasonably priced "instant gratification/no startup-fee" alternative if they are willing to pay it.

The issue only worsens the piracy problem, as consumers who once sought legitimate commercial avenues, are going to be pushed to resort to piracy to watch their favorite shows. This is a losing situation for everyone, IMO.

Hopefully Amazon/NBC keeps the prices low, for everyone's sake, because if they don't all TV content producers will feel entitled to aim for similar rate increases.

Consider this my editorial addition to the story =D

RE: Price Thoughts
By xphile on 9/8/2007 6:38:57 AM , Rating: 2
Those comments were better than the story itself, particularly the missing instant gratification at reasonable price / quality and the aspect of this and similar moves pushing piracy even further.

That is one reason Jobs has constantly and unwaveringly stated in his refusal to support increased prices - that people will instead just find the shows to download for nothing. And in that if for no other reason he is right, and really $1.99 is pretty sweet versus the thousands of nothing value non downloads NBC will get at $4.99 if that were the final price across the board.

They will get $4.99 an episode for Heroes but only because it is something special out of left field, and still new and fresh, but I doubt it will work for anything else in their lineup with maybe the exception of House for some people (like me who has been a fan of Laurie since before Blackadder).

I certainly don't see any other content producers finding that pricing level being attractive or palatable - and if they do try it it en masse it's going to blow up in their faces real fast.

Anyway very nice post - SIX!

"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot

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