NBC Comes Crawling Back to iTunes, Gets 1 Million Downloads

Big Media, which pretty much makes the loons in Big Music seem reasonable, witnessed NBC have the distributive equivalent of a hissy fit last year when they pulled their content from iTunes. At issue? They wanted more control over pricing. They said they wanted lower prices. Anyone ever seen media lower prices on anything established? No. Us neither.

Apple said NBC wanted to be able to charge up to $4.99 per episode of TV, much of which was 22 min. long and had already aired "for free", and that they wanted to be able to bundle content together so, for example, if you wanted Hot Show X, you had to take Dud Show Y as well. Anyone ever seen media overcharge, re-release "Special Editions" to double dip, and raise the prices of movie downloads to DVD levels (when it costs them nothing to distribute and includes none of the bonuses typically packaged with a DVD)? Yeah. All the time.

Still want to give NBC the benefit of the doubt? Remember, one of their demands for coming back was that Apple block non-commercial content from iPods and iPhones. I.e., if you can't prove you bought your show specifically for the iPhone (no content swapping from your PVR! And no home movies!), you're a de facto pirate.

After trying all sorts of disruptive alternate markets, including giving their content ("their" in that they own it, but typically did not create, direct, produce, star, or otherwise do anything but cull and cancel it), away for free on Hulu (to people in the US, at least) along with a back-door onto the iPhone, and through other online distribution models, at Apple's September "Let's Rock" event, it was announced NBC was coming back to iTunes.

The results? Check them out after the break...

Pundit link-baiters quickly claimed victory for NBC, since old (catalog) shows would cost $0.99, recent shows $1.99, and the newly announced HD shows, $2.99. NBC likewise claimed they'd "won". Apple's VP of Internet Services, Eddy Cue quickly pointed out Apple has always had those price points (while HD TV Shows were new, HD Movies were already priced 1$ higher than SD), and NBC had merely skulked come back to the table.

We guess getting around $2 a pop for TV you'd already shown "for free" and would still sell (often for less, you @$$#0!3s!) on DVD, Blu Ray, and into syndication, was too cherry too ignore.

Given over 1 million NBC shows were downloaded since "the return" -- admittedly, many offered as promotional freebies -- our guess might be right. In fact, Hollywood Reporter says:

On iTunes, about 30% of the top-selling episodes and season passes now comprise shows either airing on or produced by NBC Uni.

And that's before the new season starts.

Dear NBC. You're welcome. Love Apple.

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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

NBC Comes Crawling Back to iTunes, Gets 1 Million Downloads


Do you work for Apple? My god man, these are two huge multinational companies, who gives a shit?! Why don't you crawl back to sucking Steve-o's cock?

You got very interesting discussion started on your site and its worth a lot of feedback. Very less people are able to talk so well about this issue. A big thumbs up from me.