Apple iTunes has the power to save TV shows, drive new viewers, even change production methods

“It takes a lot of love to download a TV show on iTunes. The process is time-consuming (10 minutes or so for a sitcom). The screen image – by necessity – is ant-sized. The picture gets the yips. And worst of all, the thing hogs a vast chunk of memory. And, for what? A repeat,” Verne Gay writes for Newsday.

MacDailyNews Note: Jobs only knows what pile of carp PC ol’ Verne is using and with what baud dial-up modem. TV shows for users of cable modems and DSL download considerably more quickly than “10 minutes or so,” are not at all “ant-sized,” and, at least on Macs, the picture does not get “the yips.”

Gay continues, “Yet the basic fact remains. iTunes has saved ‘The Office.’ A year ago, the show was about to suffer the fate of a hundred thousand other shows that labored under the tyranny of Nielsen: It was about to get the ax. And then something providential happened. ABC cut a deal with iTunes’ new TV service, and a few hours later, NBC followed. ‘The Office’ was an immediate iTunes hit. While neither Apple nor NBC release numbers (a million total monthly downloads for all TV shows is one estimate), ‘The Office’ now reigns as the ‘Seinfeld’ of iTunes. While it recently ceded the top spot to ‘Lost,’ most weeks the great NBC comedy is the single most downloaded program. ‘I’m not sure that we’d still have the show on the air’ without the iTunes boost, says Angela Bromstead, president of NBC Universal Television Studio.”

Gay continues, “Anniversaries are a time to take stock, and one of the most important of the decade falls in a few weeks. When the networks (CBS followed quickly, too) signed those dramatic deals with iTunes last fall, no one had a clue what would happen. They have clues now. iTunes has saved shows, driven new viewers to the networks and their Web sites, and even changed the way shows are produced.”

“iTunes has almost certainly saved other shows, too, or at least given them a lease on life. NBC recently ordered more scripts for ‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.’ Would that have happened if ‘Studio’ didn’t have just the slightest traction on iTunes? (Four episodes placed recently in the iTunes top 50.) Probably not,” Gay reports.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Brian” from for the heads up.]

Related article:
USA Today article about network TV shows online nearly forgets about Apple – October 31, 2006
The Office proves popular download on Apple’s iTunes Music Store; WB, HBO express interest – January 03, 2006
Who would have thought that a computer company would change the face of TV? – November 11, 2005
Apple’s iTunes Music Store sells over one million videos in under 20 days – October 31, 2005
Can Apple’s iTunes Store resurrect old time TV? – October 30, 2005
Has Apple’s Steve Jobs saved network television or simply helped hasten its death? – October 27, 2005
BusinessWeek: Apple iPod+iTunes video marks new era for digital media – October 27, 2005
TV Critic: Apple iPod video strikingly bright, crisp, very fluid; TV will have to reorient itself – October 27, 2005
CBS News: New iPod shows ‘Apple will continue to dominate portable digital media player market’ – October 21, 2005
Apple’s video-capable iPod and iTunes are first vital link in new distribution paradigm – October 21, 2005
The Motley Fool: ‘Apple’s new video-enabled iPod is about to save the televised content industry’ – October 20, 2005
Apple’s $1.99 iTunes TV show downloads may be ‘the savior of good television’ – October 17, 2005
Apple opens Pandora’s box for the media business, could have profound long-term consequences – October 17, 2005
Apple has the potential to change not just the audio industry, but the whole entertainment industry – October 17, 2005
Forrester Research: Apple transformed music distribution, now it is doing the same for video – October 14, 2005
Apple video iPod+iTunes could create mass audience for video on the go, despite studios’ misgivings – October 13, 2005
Analyst: Apple has just produced ‘the tipping point’ for entertainment content – October 13, 2005
Apple’s video play likely to unsettle movie, TV, advertising and retail markets for years to come – October 12, 2005
Apple unveils new 5th generation iPod, now plays music, photos, and video – October 12, 2005


  1. With my Comcast, shows download in less than 5 minutes. The picture looks great whether I play it on my PowerBook screen, my iPod, or on my TV.

    Why is it that most of these articles are great, except for one little piece of major misinformation? The public reads it, most believe it, and the FUD cycle goes ’round and ’round.

  2. I wonder how long it will be until a production company produces a show solely for iTunes release, or iTunes prior to any network airing.

    Of course the marketing for such a thing would be tricky. But then again you could consider the shows to be ads for the DVDs and iTunes downloads.

  3. The picture actually does get the yips on my 800mhz iMac, so if he’s using a cheapo PC with onboard video, I’m sure there are problems.

    Also, considering how long a page takes to load MDN these days, why is it inconceivable that a video file takes a while?

  4. I’m using a dual 450MHz G4 with an ATI 9800 Graphics card, and my iTunes video downloads (tv shows, movies, etc.) look great and play just fine. And none of them are ever “ant-sized”, and in fact look decent at double size, and good enough for me to watch most of them in full-screen mode. What’s this ignoramous using, Windows 3.1 on a 386 with no video card.

    It all leads me to the unanswered question: Is ignorance really bliss?

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  5. I wonder if ol’ Verne knows that he can click on that “ant-sized” screen in the lower left-hand corner of iTunes to make it larger.

    Geesh! PC-users!

    MW: Spirit as in the spirit of exploration PC users lack. “If it can’t be done with a right-click, it isn’t worth doin’!”

  6. Two things…

    First: ‘The Office’ is hands down the best show on television.

    Second: I downloaded ‘Battlestar Galactica: The Story So Far’ when it was available for free on iTunes. It was unwatchable. Granted I only have a 700MHz G4 tower, but I have no problem watching DVDs and VLC works wonderfully with everything I throw at it. No trouble with movie trailers from Apple’s website either. So what’s the deal? All I can say is I’m glad it was a free download.

  7. Im not giving you people crap for having older machines or PeeCee’s but when you complain about picture quality and the “yips” when watching video it gets very annoying especially when you should obviously upgrade to solve your problem. Additionally, if you don’t like the quality of the TV shows then don’t buy them. There problem solved and you no longer have to spread FUD to the rest of us who actually have up-to-date systems and OS’s.

  8. Shecky,

    The “BSG: The story so far”, was without a glich on my G4 1 Ghz, so perhaps you were borderline? I know I couldn’t watch it on any of my G3s. Too bad it didn’t work for you, BSG is an awesome show like Office and that freebie was a good way of jumping into the series.

  9. The playback issues are related to the h.264 codec that Apple uses in QuickTime and appears to affect older Macs (ie. single processor G4’s). Now, even large MPEG files won’t play well in QuickTime 7 when they played fine in 6.5 on the same machine. The issue also seems to be file size-dependent – the larger the file, the worse the playback is. I just hope this all gets ironed out in Leopard with QT 7.2.

  10. We constantly forget that everything on a Mac is easier than on the PC.

    In an article on the new Windoze Media Player, Daniel Dumas said that he took a Creative Zen V Plus and hooked it to his pc and synched it with WMP. Fine for music, sucky for video. “it was a cinch to transfer 2 gigs’ worth of music files to the gaming rig. Video, on the other hand, was a different story. Transmitting season 4 of Futurama took several hours and proved to be a painfully slow, mind-numbing chore.”

    Too bad for him, five seasons of various programs went onto my iPod from my iMac in mere minutes.

    Full Article here: (It’s a hoot!),72036-0.html?

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.