“Apple Inc. is in advanced talks with News Corp. to let iTunes users rent TV shows for 99 cents and is in discussions with other media companies about similar deals, said three people familiar with the plan,” Peter Burrows, Sarah Rabil and Adam Satariano report for Bloomberg.
“Viewers would be able to rent programs from News Corp.’s Fox for 48 hours, said the people, who declined to be identified because the discussions aren’t public,” Burrows, Rabil and Satariano report. “CBS Corp. and Walt Disney Co. — where Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs is a board member and the largest shareholder — also are in talks about joining the effort, the people say.”
“Apple also plans to introduce a new version of the Touch with a higher-resolution screen — similar to the display featured on the iPhone 4 — and a $99 version of its three-year- old Apple TV set-top box, one person said,” Burrows, Rabil and Satariano report. “The new Apple TV, which will have a smaller hard drive than the earlier version, is aimed at letting people stream content from iTunes, the person said.”
Burrows, Rabil and Satariano report, “The a la carte rental plan follows an abandoned effort to create a subscription television service, said two of the people. Media companies didn’t want to endanger revenue from cable providers such as Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc., the people said.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: If this report is true, it sounds like Apple got screwed – and by extension, Apple’s future TV show customers – by the content providers yet again. We would’ve loved Apple’s proposed $30 subscription television service much more than the 99-cent TV show rentals for which it sounds like we’ll have to settle. Two shows per night is $56-$62 per month, 3 shows per night is $84-$93 per month vs. about the same amount* to cable/satellite per month for thousands of shows on hundreds of channels, not to mention live sports and news, etc. 99-cent TV show rentals are just not very competitive with cable/satellite.
Imagine building your own a a carte channel lineup and paying for that and only for that, not all of the bundled crap that’s currently forced onto cable/satellite consumers? Go ahead, imagine, because that’s about as close as you’ll ever come to seeing it.
So what if the dreck channels that nobody watches go dark? If they can’t get enough people to pay for it, then they’re obviously not worth the effort and they deserve to die. And, you know what, technically a channel is a bundle. The program is the basic unit of TV, not the channel. Just like a song is the basic (salable) unit of music, not the album (which is an artificial construct; a bundle of forced purchases). In fact, the television channel is an anachronism. But 99-cents per show is just too much vs. cable/satellite. For individual TV show rentals to be truly competitive, they’d have to be far less than 99-cents per show and Apple would still also have to offer live streaming news, sports, etc. Talk about a bag of hurt…
Let’s hope that Apple keeps trying and considers this an incremental step towards letting the consumer decide. Apple killed bundling in the music business and put the power in the hands of the consumers – where it belongs since, after all, it is the consumers’ money – may they someday do the same in the TV business. Talented television producers, writers, directors, actors, and crew members need not fear an audience with the ability to choose.