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Apple fighting for TV show rights

updated 01:40 pm EDT, Thu October 25, 2007

Apple's TV show rights

Apple may have a strong bargaining position in the music space, where it controls the lion's share of digital download purchases. Its negotiating power for television shows is, however, limited. The company is facing resistance from content owners that are refusing to go along with stipulated pricing regulations. The highest-profile falling out thus far has been a break-up with NBC, which claims that 40 percent of all the television programs purchased on iTunes belonged to it (Apple disputes that figure, saying it was closer to 30 percent).

One of the reasons Apple has a stronger hand in music is revenue. Digital downloads (primarily through iTunes) account for for 15 to 20 percent of music companies' revenue, but NBC claims that less than 1 percent of the company's total revenue -- only about $15 million -- came through iTunes. Meanwhile, studios are beginning to explore other methods for distributing content. NBC's new Web site Hulu, created in partnership with Fox, will allow users to see shows from the two networks free on the Internet.

The problems could be spreading into the music space, where a Washington Post piece says that television networks and studios are gaining more leverage. Universal Music Group, the world's largest collection of record labels, has not renewed its yearly exclusive contract and instead is going month-to-month with iTunes, allowing it to deal with other distributors. Warner Music Group is also considering switching to a month-to-month contract.

Apple is also facing an uphill battle in the movie download realm, where only Walt Disney (Jobs sits on Disney's board), Paramount and Sony have made a partial selection of their content available through iTunes.

In the meantime, Apple has added two TV shows from NBC to its iTunes Store despite the recent fallout between the television network and the Cupertino-based company. NBC has already turned to Amazon to sell episodes of its new fall TV lineup via the online retailer's Amazon Unbox digital download service, and announced that it will offer one-week free downloads to bring its primetime and late-night TV shows to users desktops for a full week after the shows air

by MacNN Staff




  1. njfuzzy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Billions in the bank

    Apple deposits a few billion in the bank every quarter lately. Spend some of it on buying a stake in a major network, and this problem will go away.

  1. poulh

    Joined: Dec 1969


    they need a killer tv app

    the iPod is there music bargaining chip. everyone knows this.

    the problem with tv/movies is that i don't want to watch them on my iPod. i want to watch them on my tv.

    and when i'm thinking about watching it on my tv, i have to get up, go to the computer in the den, and buy the show/movie from itunes. then i have to go back and wait for my apple tv to sync.

    once apple lets me buy the show from the apple tv, i'll bet we see an uptick in sales.

    once apple lets me 'rent' movies, we will see an even bigger uptick.

    and once apple has their own cable box/dvr/apple tv we will really be in business!

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Killer TV App

    Once everyone has Fiber running to their house they can do that. So what if you have to get up and go to your computer and buy one on iTunes, the time you spend waiting for the download is the real issue.

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969



    aside from MacNN telling us something we all are already aware of...

    ...Apple had a falling out with the Beatles and now as independent artists all 4 of them have their own decked out iTunes Page and rumor mills are proclaiming The Beatles as a group are soon to be gracing iTunes as well_

    So I figure if they can resolve that - they just might be continuing to wear down NBC until they cave as well_

    Not that I care - but here's to hoping !!

  1. dynsight

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple Owns Disney...

    (sort of)

    I am sure that Jobs/Apple/Disney is very cozy, which is why ABC shows will always be on iTunes.

    Except most of them are not particularly good.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: billions

    "Apple deposits a few billion in the bank every quarter lately. Spend some of it on buying a stake in a major network, and this problem will go away."

    more likely that the competing networks would not want to deal with Apple, and would instead perceive them as a competitor.

  1. dafalcon

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Apple should buy the rights to Firefly/Serenity, then give a billion dollars to Joss and say "Make a few seasons of Firefly" and then promote the h*** out of it on the iTunes store. 'Cause that would make me a happy Browncoat and show the networks ... well, no, it'd lose money like crazy (though it wouldn't necessarily have to - they could budget like $54 million or something reasonable) but it would be a show people would come to buy!

  1. draizor

    Joined: Dec 1969


    gimme my gorram show back

    Well said dafalcon! Nice to see a fellow browncoat around these boards!

    In all seriousness, maybe that could work if apple helped produce its own shows and distribute them through its very own platform

  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Firefly must continue..

    I'm tired of watching the same episodes over and over. One of the best sci-fi series ever. I'm a leaf on the wind, watch me soar. Pixar could do some great special effects for it. The movie Serenity: Reaver's Return exclusively for Apple.

  1. McDave

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Killer TV App

    I think you've missed the point. iTS isn't VOD, you book your show seasons and they magically appear.

    It's like saying downloadable music isn't going to take off because it's not as instant as radio!


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