“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.