NewsCorp.: TV shows to stay on iTunes

12 09 2007

Following last month’s decision by NBC Universal to end supplying iTunes with download-to-own TV shows, speculation had grown over the future of other contracts coming up for renewal.

NewsCorp. prez Peter Chernin yesterday confirmed that the company has no plans to take its shows off iTunes, but has called on Apple to be more flexible about its approach to pricing.

“Right now we have a perfectly good relationship with Apple,” Chernin told Reuters. “But let me say this, we’re the ones who should determine what the fair price for our product is, not Apple.”





Apple to halve cost of iTunes TV downloads; supplier rebellion brewing?

7 09 2007

Apple is planning to cut the cost of TV downloads via its iTunes service from US $1.99 to just 99 cents, reports Variety.

The move would create a single price point for both audio and TV downloads, which Apple believes will drive consumption for the latter category, which remains completely dwarfed by equivalent music track downloads. Given Apple’s success in dominating the digital downloads sector, any changes to pricing could prove an adrenalin shot to sales of TV downloads.

It’s reported that pricing for movie downloads will likely remain unchanged and there hasn’t been any comment on price points for the recently-launched TV downloads offer via the iTunes U.K storefront, where shows sell for double the existing equivalent price across the Pond.

Reuters builds on Variety‘s coverage, suggesting that other TV networks may be emboldened by NBCU’s move, with a Gartner analyst even speculating that video content may all but disappear from the iTunes service.

News Corp., Time Warner, Viacom and Walt Disney Co. all have contracts with iTunes. One of them is due to expire by the end of this year, and another by next year, according to industry sources, the report adds.

In related news, Apple and partner record labels are to go before the European Commission on 19 and 20 September, to defend accusations of price-fixing across the Eurozone.





NBCU blows out iTunes TV downloads deal

31 08 2007

NBC Universal, the biggest supplier of TV shows to iTunes, will not be renewing its two-year deal offering downloads via Apple’s digital entertainment storefront when it comes to an end in December, The New York Times reports. In a tit-for-tat response, Apple then announced that it would cease offering NBC TV shows from September.

While both companies declined to discuss the exact reasons behind the decision, it’s believed that NBCU had grown increasingly uncomfortable with Apple’s rigid pricing model, which offers just two price points for download-to-own video titles: US $1.99 for TV shows and $9.99 for movies.

NBCU’s 1,500-hour catalogue accounts for as much as 40% of TV show downloads via iTunes, including titles such as The Office and Heroes which play particularly well to online audiences.

Proving that Apple is mostly expert when it comes to managing ‘bad’ news (something TiVo also excels at), its revelation that a new generation iPod is on the way more than offset the blow, sending its shares up 6% on a day’s trading.

In related news, NBC Digital Entertainment yesterday announced that it will stream free episodes of Late Night With Conan O’Brien, when the series returns for its new season on 13 September.





iTunes TV downloads launch in the U.K.

29 08 2007

Apple iTunes users in the U.K. are now able to access a range of download-to-own TV shows licensed from ABC/Disney and Viacom at £1.89 a pop (double the equivalent of the U.S.), the first time the service has been extended outside the U.S since it created a watershed moment for online video in late 2005.

The initial content offer is pretty thin at just 28 U.S. series, many of which in the case of ABC-licensed content have already been offered on Channel 4’s 4oD service, albeit at higher rates. The lack of any U.K.-produced titles could be perceived as a tad culturally imperialist – not to mention a lack of riches.

In the U.S. iTunes users have been downloading an average of one million TV episodes each week (50 million have been downloaded to date); meanwhile two million movies have been downloaded via the service so far. But this still pales into insignificance vs. performance of audio titles: 13 million single tracks and just under a million full album downloads every week.

Whether this latest development will play to Apple’s business model of driving hardware sales (eg video iPods, Apple TV) through offering a compelling range of software (TV and music) remains to be seen. In any event, it’s a big move for the U.K. market which can only serve to stimulate overall demand for licensed, downloadable TV and movies.





Sony, Matsushita launch VOD service; bridges computer/TV divide

8 08 2007

Variety reports on yesterday’s announcement by Sony Corp and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. that they are to begin offering 2,000 VOD titles via their joint venture TV Portal Service, which can be accessed by internet-connected flat-screen TVs.

While the expansion of the service, initially launched in 2006 by a consortium of six Japanese consumer electronics manufacturers, consumers will be able to access a range of on-demand content, costing from Y200 (US $1.69) to Y300 ($2.54).

At first glance, the move promises to usher in true convergence and offer TV-type content, which just happens to be delivered via the internet, rather than broadcast. Yet, like Apple TV and, to a lesser extent, Windows Media Center, the enabling companies are applying 20th Century business models to a 21st Century distribution channel by limiting consumers to walled gardens of content.

Back to the drawing board… 

Aside from delivering what consumers want by making internet-delivered content available on a screen more conducive to the viewing experience unlocking the potential of the internet on TVs, it

Yet again we a move which promises to usher in true convergence, and yet again, the enabler clumsily insists on giving consumers choice only from a walled garden of content.  





Dailymotion launches version for iPhone

6 08 2007

Video sharing site Dailymotion today announced a version of the service which can be accessed via the Apple iPhone. The mobile version features a stripped-down user interface and Quicktime-compatible encoding, making it suitable for viewing via the devices Safari web browser.





iTunes video update

2 08 2007

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According to Tuesday’s press release, announcing music downloads had topped three billion, Apple has updated its numbers for the iTunes video catalogue. According to the statement, there are now 550 TV shows and 500 movies available for download.