Apple Pushing for $1 iTunes TV Shows?


It currently costs $1.99 for a standard definition TV on iTunes, and rumor has it Apple is pushing the networks to halve that price, making it just $1.

Apple's belief, media executives said, is that drastically cutting prices could spur sales of TV shows on the iTunes digital entertainment storefront, which have so far frustrated Apple executives.

Apple does not disclose video sales data, but analysts have said they were a small contributor to the store's estimated $2bn sales in 2009.

It would also halve the price of "season passes" which currently cost far more than buying the DVD season set of the same show. Whether this would be in addition to, or instead of, the rumored subscription TV service is unknown.

Unlike music which was devastated by piracy and print media which is facing soaring costs and declining revenue, TV and movies still make some money, which means their executives are less inclined to evolve beyond old-world thinking (we'd even go so far as to say consumer-hostile thinking at times).

Apple has always believed their competition was "free as in piracy" and wants to price their media low enough that convenience and conscience win out -- it's easier and you feel better about just buying it via iTunes.

Is Apple right about TV? Is $1 that magic price?

[Financial Times via Business Insider via Gizmodo]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple Pushing for $1 iTunes TV Shows?


It's obvious that a TV Show costs much more than a song to be created. Almost all labels raised the price of their songs when Apple allowed the 1.29 price, and now a TV Show will be cheaper than a ringtone?
This doesn't seem fair to me.

One also has to consider that most people will only watch a TV show episode once, whereas they will listen to a song over and over again.
That being said, I like the $1 price point for TV shows.

Something's wrong when the price of the season on iTunes is more than the DVD. I bought a number of series in HD this year when they were on sale for $27.99- I thought a series of 24 HD episodes for $1.17 each was a good price.

"Unlike music which was devastated by piracy..."
More like mildly inconvenienced by a bad economy. They release fewer albums than ever before and take a small percentage drop in sales and then blame it on piracy - while CD sales drop, digital sales take off. I don't have these numbers at hand for the most recent years, but let's look back at the turn of the last decade when they claimed to be devastated by piracy...
1999 2000
Total Dollars (millions) 14651 14404
New Releases 38900 27000
Dollars per release (thousands) 376 533
They made nearly the same profit by releasing 2/3 as many recordings. I suspect (and someone please post if you have the newest data), they've done similar cost saving measures and then reaped nearly as much profit from less output and expenditure.

Should've known the formatting would bite it. Basically they made almost the same money in 2000 vs 1999 on ~27000 releases vs 38900 releases in 1999.

Any price cut makes sense. Right now they're competing with the DVR, Hulu and other streaming sites (like the broadcaster's own). Not much motivation to own the content at the current price. Hopefully, Apple is considering streaming of TV shows people own in their iTunes account like it's rumored that they're going to stream music.

Um, i'm not inclined to purchase any network television or cable for that. If I don't catch it when it airs, I don't see it and that doesn't happen very often (DVR).
What my DVR doesn't catch or what I forget to set it for rather, the networks have the stuff to view for free online and we all know how often some HBO shows are re-ran...I don't personally understand the need for this service.

I would be more inclined to buy a show ever once in a while for $1 but $2 seems like a lot. I already pay for cable so the show has been paid for at least once already I just missed it.

Apple has the right idea. I would pay $1/episode. I could download a few of my favorite episodes and watch them as I had some down time.
Also, I could get rid of my cable TV if I could pick and choose what shows I wanted and what I didn't. I feel like I pay for shows like Damages when all I want is Nip/Tuck.
I also think that pay per episode or buying a season pass/podcast would be a much better way for the networks to find out exactly how many people are watching a certain show, rather than the archaic Neilson ratings that they use now.

Even If the TV producers had to subsidize the TV shows with ads like HULU or other online services, I'd still be more likely to buy for $1. Seeing as how I already pay a cable/satellite bill, I don't like the idea of paying for TV Shows again, but for $1, I'd definitely be more likely to buy. I only watch about 5 shows a week anyway and that varies with the seasons.
Heck, do this the right way and I'd cancel my cable service!

It would be nice for some cheap shows. But I hope they can do this for the UK and other countries too. Alot more people would be buying them at this cheaper price.
Most people would prefer them for free but not everything in life is free.

Couldn't possibly care less about the standard def pricing. What I want to see is the HD episode prices to drop...

When the only shows I watch I can see for free on hulu or on the site the shows on, even $1 seems pretty high for me.

I'm only going to watch a TV episode once, maybe twice if it's a good show. $1 really is the point that I'd mostly stick to, but I'd obviously prefer if it were lower. Perhaps $1 per episode or buy the season for a reduced price (the same way buy per song is $1 or $10 for albums, even if the album sometimes has many more than 10 songs). Obviously, I'd like a system where I could watch any TV episode at any time for free (the problem with Hulu is that shows expire) with obligatory ads. If they can do it now on TV, why can't they do the same to my phone or computer?

There is no reason to own an ATV just for this.
Understand if you don't watch much tv or any at all there is zero point to this when most episodes can be watched online from their respective owner.
If you do watch a lot of tv you most likely own a dvr, so again no reason to go out and pay a dollar an episode.