Report: Apple to sell US TV shows for 99-cents; coinciding with iPad launch

“Apple could begin selling US television shows for $1, half of its charge on its iTunes digital media store, when the computer maker’s iPad tablet computer hits the stores,” Kenneth Li reports for The Financial Times.

MacDailyNews Note: If it happens, it would be 99-cents, to be exact.

Li continues, “The test, expected to coincide with the April consumer debut of the iPad, will offer some shows at the lower price as a way to test whether reducing the cost of video programming will ignite sales, people familiar with the discussions said.”

MacDailyNews Note: Wi-Fi-only iPads debut in “late March.” Sales of Wi-Fi + 3G iPads begin in April.

Li continues, “Some television networks agreed to the lower prices after months of negotiations, and having initially resisted Apple’s push. Media executives are under pressure from declining DVD sales and cut-rate rental services such as Redbox, that offer rental DVDs for $1.”

“It is not yet clear which or how many of the US free-to-air and pay-television networks have agreed to the lower pricing,” Li reports. “‘If you move five times the volume [of sales] at half the price, it’s a good idea,’ one digital media strategist at a big US media conglomerate said. ‘The argument for holding the line gets bad quickly.’ One executive said iTunes’s 120m active customer accounts with credit cards on file provides a ripe ground for experimenting with changing the economics of digital media. ‘It’s a good time to do it,’ another senior media executive said.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: From what we’ve been hearing from a trusted source, we believe that the odds are extremely high that we’ll soon see 99-cent TV shows on iTunes Store (Apple TV included), from at least some networks and/or shows. Apple also continues to work the content providers for more options for iTunes Store TV sales and subscriptions.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Lava_Head_UK” and “James W.” for the heads up.]


    Well, it looks like I’ve been reading a bit too much about the iPad. Last night I dreamt that I was already using it and [spoiler alert] it does have a camera after all.

    I need a life.

    Or an iPad.

  2. The media outfits will have to do something with pricing on the iTunes store. There have been many times I’ve considered watching something, but then realized one of the following:

    A. I can get the same thing at Redbox for a buck instead of $3 – $5
    B. I can get the same thing from Netflix if I can wait a couple of days and watch it as many times as I want and keep it as long as I want
    C. Or, the movie I want to rent is for sale only

    That’s why movies haven’t done as well as music. As for TV Shows, I just DVR the ones I want to watch and don’t see a reason right now to pay to own them. I realize some folks use the iTunes TV shows as their source. Who actually watches the same episodes of a TV show enough to buy it? Or would rather own it than watch on Hulu?

  3. I have an OTA tuner w/ built in DVR, so network shows aren’t really an issue for streaming. The only reason I see for keeping any cable is for sports and live news and the cable companies know this which is why those channels are moving to upper tiers.

  4. Ah yes, the 99¢ fiction – sellers believing that we, the consumers will round down, rather than up. Even children know that 99¢ = $1.

    In many ways, I surprised that Apple plays that stupid, old fashioned game.

  5. 99 cent TV shows is a good start.

    Apple TV needs that, and an iPad on your coffee table as a ‘remote’ of sorts.

    iTunes on your computer, and browsing from within the Apple TV interface are both lousy ways to discover new content.

    I was thinking a Wii style controller was in the cards. An iPad will do the job.

  6. TB2
    “A. I can get the same thing at Redbox for a buck instead of $3 – $5
    B. I can get the same thing from Netflix if I can wait a couple of days and watch it as many times as I want and keep it as long as I want
    C. Or, the movie I want to rent is for sale only”

    I agree. Quite frankly, the TV shows are way too expensive on iTunes. Some of season passes are 49.99! If I bought 5 or 6 of our family’s shows, it would be $200 a season, when I can get them for free over the air and can watch them on DVR at a later time (or in reruns).

    So while I have bought a couple of episodes of TV shows that I missed (like the Flash Forward pilot), I typically won’t buy a show.

    Personally, I think an entire season of a hit TV Show shouldn’t be more than 19.99 and realistically I would drop cable and go almost exclusively with iTunes if our favorite shows were priced at 9.99 season, with 99 cent single episodes.

    But I doubt I’ll ever see anything like that….

  7. Networks take note: TV Shows are way too expensive on iTunes. The “convenience” isn’t worth a $2 premium. I’ll never pay more than $1 per episode of HD content. Now is that $1 per 22 min or $1 per 44 min show? That I have yet to decide. But the current $3 for an HD TV show is a non-starter.

  8. The problem is that DVD sales have been very lucrative. Now that people are using places like Hulu to stream for free, many are balking at paying $50 for a season DVD set, let alone an iTunes version.

    I have yet to buy much from iTunes in terms of video. However I regularly stream stuff from Netflix. The service and quality is generally good and the only down side is that most new stuff is not available.

    Personally that model works for me. If Apple could have something similar that spurs Mac, iPad or Apple TV sales AND provides a good revenue stream then I think they would be on to something.

  9. I would buy TV shows at 0.99. I have never purchased a TV show at 1.99. It’s just not worth that amount of money.

    This would be a smart move by the networks. I would end up with a lot more legal content on my iPad. Unless they try to incorporate some stupid time bomb on the show so it’s only good for a period of time.

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