Report: Apple and NBC Universal break off negotiations over iTunes Store TV shows

“Fans of such hit shows as ‘The Office’ are angry because Apple, feuding with NBC Universal over pricing, pulled all current NBC shows from the popular iTunes music store,” Frank Ahrens reports for The Washington Post.

“And after Dec. 1, when Apple’s contract with NBC expires, all shows that NBC Universal owns, past and present, will disappear from the site. That includes shows from Sci Fi, USA and Bravo cable channels,” Ahrens reports. “NBC Universal confirmed that it sent a letter on Oct. 9 asserting that Apple is in breach of contract, though it is unlikely to pursue legal action. The two sides have stopped negotiating and there appears to be no resolution in sight.”

“NBC said that before the breakup, its shows accounted for 40 percent of all the television programs purchased on iTunes; Apple said the number was closer to 30 percent,” Ahrens reports. “NBC proposed a range of prices and packaging of shows on iTunes from 99 cents to $2.99, said a source close to the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the proposal was confidential. Apple refused. In a press release, Apple said NBC proposed selling some shows for as high as $4.99, which NBC denies.

“NBC Universal’s take from selling its shows on iTunes last year was far less than 1 percent of the company’s total revenue — only about $15 million, according to a source close to the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the number has not been made public,” Ahrens reports.

Ahrens reports, “NBC Universal spokesman Cory Shields said his company’s programs help drive the sales of iPods. ‘The iPod is only as good as the content on it,’ he said.”

More in the full article here.

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

How quickly they forget: “NBC is confident that the iPod exposure contributed to the rise [in ratings for ‘The Office’},” Daisy Whitney reported for TV Week on January 17, 2006. Full article: NBC: Apple’s iTunes, iPod powering broadcast ratings for ‘The Office’.


  1. Except of course these days our Macs can just encode anything we record or rip into an iPod compatible format much quicker than they used to. If there’s no content directly for sale, we can make our own.

  2. That doesn’t make sense to tell someone who invented the product what to do. Demand someone to do their way. It is very unlikely how the partnership should work.

    If NBC wants to sell TV contents on iPod, NBC should build its own server and sell m4v based video.

    I think that would be solve the problem.???

    (MDN magic word – somewhat)

  3. Someone needs to tell NBC that if they don’t want to sell us their “content”, we’ll be happy to get it other ways. I am perfectly willing to pay for The Office, but I’m not going to be forced to watch adds. Not anymore.

    Every episode is available within a day or two on Limewire or Bittorrent. I encourage everyone to help end Universal’s tyranny of the entertainment content industry.

  4. “NBC Universal’s take from selling its shows on iTunes last year was far less than 1 percent of the company’s total revenue — only about $15 million”

    Herein lies the shortsightedness of the soulless suits at NBC. This outlet is a promotional vehicle for the shows, not an end. This should be seen as a vehicle to drive higher viewership on the network itself, not an end to money making.

    I for one will not pay anything more than a couple bucks for a show because to me its an impulse buy. Once they take it out of that category, I’m far less likely to buy. And by ‘far’ i mean never.

  5. I always love it when dirty laundry gets aired: “we wanted shows between $.99 and $2.99,” according to NBC. “We were being forced to sell shows at $4.99” according to Apple. I have no idea what the truth of the matter is, but from past experience of my own, I’m 99.9% sure it’s not either of these cases. Ahhh, business negotiations!

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