Nearly everyone and their mothers are reporting this breaking story, so why not jump on the bandwagon?

NBC Universal, fresh from announcing their new "" on-demand download service, has so far refused to renew its contract with Apple's iTunes store to sell episodes of THE OFFICE, SCRUBS, HEROES, and all other NBCU owned properties.  The current contract is set to expire in December.

Some of you may remember the ruckus Universal's music arm caused a few months ago when they refused to renew music rights with Apple as well.  Seems like the big-wigs over at NBCU want to be able to charge and force bundle whatever they want, and don't like the flat $0.99/1.99/9.99 structure Apple has sworn (and profited) by.  NBCU properties currently account for 40% of all videos sold on iTunes, and I suppose they feel they deserve a bigger cut of the action.

The New York Times is reporting that Universal's argument is that "NBCU wants to sell a package, say an episode of “The Office? with the movie “The 40- Year-Old Virgin,? because they both star the comedian Steve Carell."  Apple, obviously, doesn't want to do that since they feel complicated pricing turns customers off.  NBCU also claims that piracy concerns have something to do with this, although why you'd DENY people a chance to buy a show legally is beyond me.  All this does is drive more people towards Bittorent.

Editor Jeremy Horowitz of Apple fan-site has posted an editorial on the decision which echoes some of my same points:

"Hi, NBC. It’s me, Jeremy. You probably don’t know me, but I’m one of your customers. That’s right, “customers.? Two years ago, that word wouldn’t have made any sense to either of us. The idea of paying money for your TV shows was next to ridiculous to me back then. Even today, I think it’s on the fine edge of foolish, and all it would take is one really dumb move by your company and I’d stop paying to watch your shows.

Today, you did something that comes as close to “really dumb? as you’ll need to get to lose my business entirely. You announced that you’re considering pulling your videos out of the iTunes Store come December over piracy and pricing concerns. The New York Times also reported that you’re holding back on selling movies through iTunes because you’re worried about piracy.

[...]What you should have learned from the iTunes experiment is simple: Apple is helping you make money, and build fan bases. Shows like The Office that were going nowhere suddenly developed religious fans and—in my case—customers. I missed the first and half of the second seasons of The Office because nothing you did to promote the show worked properly. Then, one day while I was on vacation, a friend recommended the show. So I downloaded an episode from iTunes. Then I downloaded the entire series. I let my now-wife watch, then she and I both got our fathers (and other family members) hooked, and so on. The same thing happened with Battlestar Galactica, and this week, I bought the entire first season of Heroes. It’s purely coincidence, I think, that The New York Times reported this morning that those are your three most popular shows on iTunes.

Without iTunes, this would never have happened. I want to underscore the word “never.?

To read more of Jeremy's editorial, go HERE.

So what do you guys think?  Did you learn to love THE OFFICE through iTunes downloads?  Do you care about this move?  Many people believe iTunes sales are what kept THE OFFICE viable to NBC in the first place, so is it "fair"? Or just business as usual?


Apple responded to this whole thing, giving some insight into NBCU's demands for pricing--

Apple (R) today announced that it will not be selling NBC television shows for the upcoming television season on its online iTunes(R) Store ( The move follows NBC's decision to not renew its agreement with iTunes after Apple declined to pay more than double the wholesale price for each NBC TV episode, which would have resulted in the retail price to consumers increasing to $4.99 per episode from the current $1.99. ABC, CBS, FOX and The CW, along with more than 50 cable networks, are signed up to sell TV shows from their upcoming season on iTunes at $1.99 per episode.

"We are disappointed to see NBC leave iTunes because we would not agree to their dramatic price increase," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of iTunes. "We hope they will change their minds and offer their TV shows to the tens of millions of iTunes customers."

Apple's agreement with NBC ends in December. Since NBC would withdraw their shows in the middle of the television season, Apple has decided to not offer NBC TV shows for the upcoming television season beginning in September. NBC supplied iTunes with three of its 10 best selling TV shows last season, accounting for 30 percent of iTunes TV show sales.

$4.99 per episode?  Seriously NBC? 


Category:general -- posted at: 6:24pm EDT

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