NBC wants back into Apple’s iTunes Store

“NBC Universal would like to have its TV shows distributed once again through Apple’s iTunes service, a top executive said Wednesday, but he called for antipiracy measures to help protect his business’ revenue,” Stephen Shankland reports for CNET.

MacDailyNews Take: When will these people learn? DRM doesn’t work. Pirates will always pirate, regardless of whatever antipiracy measures are used. Just get the content available in a timely fashion, in good quality for a reasonable price and you’ll make money.

Shankland continues, “George Kliavkoff, chief digital officer at NBC Universal, didn’t specifically mention Apple by name in his request, but it was clear he had the iPod maker in mind when it came to combating people’s consumption of pirated content.”

Shankland reports, “‘If you look at studies about MP3 players, especially leading MP3 players and what portion of that content is pirated, and think about how that content gets onto that device, it has to go through a gatekeeping piece of software, which would be a convenient place to put some antipiracy measures,’ Kliavkoff said in an onstage interview at the Ad:Tech conference here. One of the big issues for NBC is piracy. We are financially harmed every day by piracy. It results in us not being able to invest as much money in the next generation of film and TV products.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Dummy doesn’t get it.

Shankland continues, “In 2007, NBC Universal pulled its TV content from iTunes when the two companies disagreed about pricing. Kliavkoff made it clear that he’d like the conduit back, though. ‘We’d love to be on iTunes. It has a great customer experience. We’d love to figure out a way to distribute our content on iTunes,’ he said, but wouldn’t comment on any negotiations. ‘We have film distribution with iTunes so yes, we do talk to Apple,’ he said.”

“Price appears still to be a sticking point,” Shankland reports.

MacDailyNews Take: So, now we finally get to the heart of the matter.

Shankland continues, “‘The music industry guys would have something to say about how the pricing has affected their product over the last few years,’ Kliavkoff said.

MacDailyNews Take: The music industry is not negatively affected by Apple’s pricing. They are negatively affected because consumers can now choose and are no longer forced to buy bundles (albums on CD) at exorbitant prices. Tough. Don’t blame Apple because technology allowed for consumer choice. Last we looked, Apple sells the music labels’ product and gives them the bulk of the money. Again: DRM doesn’t work. Pirates will always pirate, regardless of whatever antipiracy measures are used. Just get the content available in a timely fashion, in good quality for a reasonable price and you’ll make money.

Shankland continues, “The Apple-NBC Universal spat has been a game of brinksmanship over which company needs the other more. Analysts at Forrester Research think Apple needs the content more than NBC needs the distribution.”

Full article here.

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

The analysts at Forrester Research or anywhere else who think that Apple needs the content more than NBC needs the distribution are idiots. Here’s why.

Jobs will let NBC back when NBC does as they are told by those who built, own, and operate the market-dominating iTunes Store.


  1. For one thing, video is DRM’d in iTunes, and I think as effectively as it can. And DRM is much more appropriate for video than music as well, given the way its used. But I say, why doesn’t apple just portal things like aTV and iPhone/Touch to the network streaming websites, where they can continue to use ad-based revenue? And come to think of it, why don’t network websites just adopt the Quicktime format so I can use my iphone to go to NBC.com, and watch their episodes and their ads on their terms? I’d prefer that over everything. aTV should allow the same BTW. It should allow you to surf ABC, NBC, VONGO, JOOST, and all those just like it does You Tube. That would keep the markets seperate (Hardware vs Content) and alleviate all these concerns

  2. screw nbc.

    I like some of their shows, but if they want to be jerks, I can keep getting their shows from other sources.

    I don’t mind paying a little. That is all it is worth to me. Stupid tv shows rot the mind anyway.

    Keep acting tough with apple, hello torrents.

  3. I don’t understand what’s going on with the price? Aren’t Apple letting NBC sell their content at the price they want?

    If that’s true, shouldn’t it be up to NBC to decide the price of the content that is sold, since it is owned by NBC?

  4. I know I will get flamed for saying some of this, but isn’t it all quite obvious?

    The TV industry already has a successful model that can work quite well AND prevent piracy problems.

    Ad-supported distribution. If you run the content the same way you do on TV (22 minutes of programming with 8 minutes of commercials) and then provide the content for download, piracy will vanish, as you can get it just as quickly from the source as you can a pirate.

    With this model, the distributor pays NOTHING for anti-piracy, makes money from advertisers, and the advertisers will know exactly how many times it was downloaded. Everybody wins.

  5. The other day I had the “pleasure” of experiencing one of NBC’s alternatives to the iTunes Store. I tried to watch an episode of Battlestar Gallatica on the Sci-Fi channel site. My watching was hampered by:

    1. A crapload of commercials
    2. I was limited to watching in a small window on my computer screen.
    3. I had no control over the streaming so after every 2 minutes, the video stopped for a minute so the streaming could catch up.

    Hey NBC, please take my two freakin’ dollars and let me watch your show commercial free and without streaming issues from the iTunes Store. Even though free is a really good price, quality is worth my $2.

  6. Actually the fact that NBC cracked first as to want back, is a sign that NBC needs apples distribution. They probably realized they are spending more money, and getting less watches than they had when they were on itunes to begin with.

    I know i don’t watch shows from them any more.

  7. NBC wants back in the iTS? Hmmm.. wonder why. Is it because they are dead last in ratings and people are upset at Zucker? Not making any money with Hulu? Was a matter of time, wasn’t it. Hope the music execs learn and open up all their content to the iTunes+ music store.. The Amazon decision is not hurting the iTS.

  8. The wholesale price is nogosiated with Apple and the content provider. NBC wanted to do away with single shows and go to just having Apple iTunes sell bundles a good show and a bad show or two model with a combined Wholesale price equal to the wholesale price of each show if each show were a hit show. Apple said are you nuts customer don’t want the crappy shows forced on them like that and it’s raise the cost of the shows people want to watch by too much. NBC insisted and Apple said good for you enjoy the loss.

    NBC wanting back into iTunes shows that they need Apple much more then Apple needs them.
    NBC direct or Hulu are easy to game and get the souce FLV file. Converting it to AppleTV or iPod is a snap with Visual Hub too. No need to worry about the ads either. Piracy? I get it from NBC’s site and convert it to a watchable format so, it’s not piracy in my opion, and I’m not making it available to others either.

  9. MDN- you can’t really be so blinded by the holy Apple logo that you think that NBC needs Apple more than Apple needs NBC? Put down the apple rapped joint and listen up, stoner!

    NBC and other content providers is the reason iTunes is there! With no content, why would we have iTunes, besides to play the movies or music I illegally steal from bittorrents! DUH!

    Listen, I think Apple is a great company with some of the best electronics/software for this day in age… but lets not forget where Apple has been and where they want to be.

    I think NBC has every right to say to Apple what the price should be. Hell, let them make it outrageous! Then CBS, ABC and all the others will benifit and then NBC will see their error.

    Apple needs NBC has much as the providers need Apple. PERIOD!

  10. Who cares. What I want to know is when is NBC content going to be available on Xbox Live? That’s the future. In a couple of years only a few people will remember I-Tunes or I-Pods. It’s a Zune and Xbox world now folks.

    Your potential. Our passion.™

  11. Guess the boys at GE don’t like wearing the shoe on the other foot.

    Guess what, distributors set the price. I can’t tell you how many goods GE used to buy in the US and forced to Mexico, China and India. Why, because they wanted their costs lower, and some of the product (WalMart does this all the time) they just take it over to the low cost countries and tell them to copy it.

    No fun having price dictated to you is it.

  12. Jaygee

    Retailers / distributors own the “shelf space”. It’s up to the manufacturers / creators to price their product to get the shelf space allocated to their product.

    Retailer decides how much space to allocate based on customer demand, margin, alternatives.

    Simply put, NBC priced themselves out of Apples store. In the case of Apple, they have decided provide as good of an experience as possible. The content has to be fairly priced to make the purchase of the player and content compelling to consumer. Costs have to be low if they are going to expand the market beyond where it is now.

  13. There was value to obtaining TV shows for the iPod and iPhone because of their mobility, along with the time shifting. I’m not going to make any kind of practice of watching TV shows, I may have missed, on my computer screen. You can’t currently take an internet connection to NBC.com or Hulu, or any other streamed source while you are on a cross country road trip, or on an airplane or subway. NBC should recognize that sales through iTunes does not subtract from gross revenues derived from TV productions, it is gravy. Are any of Hulu’s advertisers going to reduce their participation if the same program is sold on the iTunes Store? I doubt it, they serve different market segments. And as the first poster (FIRST!) stated, Apple has DRM, and has worked hard to maintain its integrity. I don’t even know why the NBC guy is raising that as an issue in relationship to Apple. I’d like to see ANY evidence that iTunes sourced TV shows are being bit-torrented.

  14. “They can mark up the price and make a profit or use it as a loss leader to get people in the door,” Kliavkoff said. “It’s really difficult for us to work with any distribution partner who says ‘Here’s the wholesale price and the retail price,’ especially when the price doesn’t reflect the full value of the product.”

    “‘The music industry guys would have something to say about how the pricing has affected their product over the last few years,’ Kliavkoff said.

    We see what he means. Amazon is doing what the music industry wants by offering DRM-free tracks as a loss leader! Why, so that they cannibalize their own CD sales?

    It’s like people have the time to shop around for a TV show! Today, I’ll buy the show in this format for $1.49 tomorrow I’ll buy the same show in another format for $1.89. And I need several incompatible devices and media software to use them.

    Kliavkoff, why don’t you try it yourself for a while before you preach it. It seems you have never been a consumer yourself.

  15. Wow, what a steaming pile!

    Here’s a challenge for Mr. Kliavkoff: take your content out of all the legal download services, including Hulu, for the upcoming 2008/9 season.

    And then check, in January, how much of your content is available in high quality on BitTorrent sites.

    Now ask yourself how it got there and why does so little of it seem to have any station ident logos on screen.

    And then you’ll realise that people are just grabbing your content as you bounce it – unencrypted – off a satellite to get to your affiliate stations.

Reader Feedback

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