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

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:  Amazon.com.  CNNMoney.com 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 Amazon.com 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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RE: Apple
By plinden on 9/6/2007 1:10:30 PM , Rating: 1
Yes, in theory, content providers should decide their own prices and DRM policies. I understand DRM. I work for a company that delivers online video content from third party content providers. We cannot get any contracts from content providers unless we offer DRM.

But it's FUCKING ridiculous the things they ask for.

Studio A will ask for their content to be downloadable and playable on only one PC, but with no expiration. Channel X will allow syncing to multiple windows mobile devices, but want a one week expiration, except for premium content which will expire in 24 hours.

Let me repeat: it's FUCKING ridiculous.

So what happens when Dick and Jane fly to Europe and want to bring some stuff to watch while they're on the plane?

Dick has to think, "Hmm, BSG is from NBC and I can play it only on one <insert name of mobile device>, but Jane has it on hers so we'll bring that. Lost is from NBC, or is it CBS? I think it's premium anyway ... better check that ... and so we'd better watch that Friday night. Aggh, we're not allowed to play that on Jane's <insert name of mobile device> so I have to bring my laptop ... crap! I left it at work. I'll have to make a detour on the way to the airport pick it up, but it's the other direction ... Sod this. I'm installing BitTorrent".

And an industry goes belly up because of the greed and shortsightedness of the content providers.

Apple are a big enough company to make a stand. We are a small company who can't, so we have to roll over, which means no one wants our stuff (I wouldn't pay for it), which makes it harder for us to get contracts. But I don't blame Apple. I blame the stupidity of the networks/studios/cable providers. They don't understand that if a consumer has to think about DRM, it's a failure. Apple does understand that, so its DRM is comparatively lax, while still offering some piece of mind to the providers.

Apple's business practices, in this case, are good for everyone, Apple included: the consumer doesn't have to keep track of an infinite variation in prices or DRM policies, and providers sell more and make more money.

In all this, I can't believe you are arguing that NBC wanting to charge 2.5x the price and demanding more restrictive DRM is good for anyone, not even NBC itself. There's no guarantee that NBC, or any other content provider, will make the connection between falling online sales and their own stupid policies, so you can't assume that NBC will make any concessions to the consumer. They think we're all pirates anyway.

The networks don't understand online business, they wish it would go away. They want you pay for viewing BSG (that's the only NBC-owned program I can think of right now) on your TV, and more for watching it on each PC, and more for watching it on an iPod/windows mobile device.


"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller














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