Apple now more amenable to flexible TV Show pricing on iTunes Store?

“This month, HBO joined the Internet’s most successful content store with three series including ‘The Sopranos’ meriting $2.99 per episode — the first deviation Apple has made from its standard $1.99 price for TV episodes,” Andrew Wallenstein reports for The Hollywood Reporter.

“But the move was all the more surprising given that NBC Universal withdrew all of its TV programming from iTunes six months ago after Apple refused to grant variable pricing, among other issues,” Wallenstein reports. “Thus we are left with a question: Is HBO the exception to the rule on iTunes, or is Apple changing the rule?”

MacDailyNews Note: HBO is a pay cable service. HBO shows run ad-free. NBC is an ad-supported TV network.

Wallenstein continues, “With its usual Kremlinesque approach to public relations, Apple isn’t explaining the change. But sources at several major studios who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitive nature of negotiations, say Apple has changed its tune on iTunes.”

“Long before HBO nabbed $2.99 pricing, programming providers say they have been hammering Apple to obtain not only increases but also lower price points than $1.99 — as low as 33 cents. More than one studio has been aggressively asking for TV shows to be structured like films on iTunes, which offers new releases and catalog titles at separate price points,” Wallenstein reports. “‘The conversations I’ve had with them over the last quarter are markedly different than they were a year or two ago,’ one content chieftain says. ‘Apple is much more flexible than people presume.'”

Wallenstein reports, “That presumption also might have been unfair to begin with, given that sources also suggest that it wasn’t Apple but NBC Universal that was being stubborn in their previous negotiation stalemate. Not only was the studio pushing to test a $4.99 price point — suddenly, ‘Sopranos’ doesn’t seem that expensive — but it also wanted to institute dynamic pricing, an experimental new technology that recalibrates price based on consumer demand. NBC Universal declined comment on dynamic pricing, which is being tested by Warner Music Group.”

More in the full article here.


  1. I read somewhere that variable pricing in HBO is mainly used to offset difference in length in content, I did not verify, but it seems fair, not all TV programming is the same length.

  2. It all has to do with production value. HBO spends the same amount of money per hour on their TV series’ as do major studios on major movies, only their 30 hour movies (split into shows). If you buy their season’s on DVD, their quite expensive. Think of how much it costs to produce something like the Wire, whose cast is simply massive. Makes sense to me, of course, I just subscribe to HBO, and get it on demand, which is probably the best value.

  3. derelict,

    Why don’t you learn the differences between “there,” “their,” and “they’re” and then come back and try again.

    Nobody with half a brain wants to slog through your half-assed sentences trying to figure out just what the fsck you’re trying to say, you retard.

  4. I’m sorry you’re too slow to have gotten my meaning…..or is it that you have such a sad, boring life that you have nothing better to do than correct grammar and insult people on comment blogs?

  5. You obviously feel superior with regards to Language Arts. Unfortunately, your behavior only proves that you failed to learn the basic skills of Elementary School. Your Language Arts degree means nothing in the real world. In case you haven’t noticed, the most important thing in life is getting along and working with others.

    Feel free to leave and never come back.

    Have a great day!

  6. MDN, why do I care if HBO is a pay cable service? I’m paying for a video with no commercials in either case. Why do I care if the companies revenue comes from subscribers or advertisers?

    Derelict, Lost has a cast and budget on par with large Soprano or Wire type HBO shows, so should I pay more for those episodes too?

  7. 2.99 is too much. I’d rather buy the DVD set or use Netflix. What I really want is to rent it, give me a week to watch it, and then delete it. I wouldn’t even mind a couple of commercials. Under this scenario, shows should shouldn’t cost more than .$99.

  8. I don’t think the issue with NBC was the price per show, it was their insistence of bundling. Apple wasn’t going to go along with NBCs plan where to get the show you want, you’d have to also by whatever crap they were trying to promote.


  9. @MDN:

    It doesn’t matter that HBO is a premium cable service and their shows are paid for by subscribers, or that NBC’s shows are paid for by advertisers. The downloads from iTunes are commercial-free, so what’s the point, MDN?

    Also, Apple has always had flexible/variable pricing. Look at whole album costs on iTunes. Older albums can cost as little as $6.99, while others may cost $12.99 or more.

    This is where Apple could have a nice option plan. Bundle entire seasons of a show together for a nice, low rate compared to the per episode price. That would help sell more downloads, more episodes, and keep people coming back.

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