News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch may be the key to Apple’s 99-cent TV show rentals

Apple Online Store“The price that people pay to watch a television show on their iPad might hinge on Rupert Murdoch’s mission to save the newspaper industry,” Dawn C. Chmielewski and Meg James report for The Los Angeles Times.

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“For several weeks Hollywood has been wrangling over Apple’s push to offer rentals of TV show episodes for 99 cents [vs. as much as $3.99]. Many in the entertainment industry fear that the low price could break the economic model that supports the high cost of producing TV shows,” Chmielewski and James report. “Media giants NBC Universal, CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc. have dug in their heels in opposition. Walt Disney Co., meanwhile, is willing to go along with Apple’s new pricing plan — at least for now.”

Chmielewski and James report, “The pivotal company in the debate has become Murdoch’s News Corp… [where] executives are divided over selling TV shows at such a discount, according to people close to the conversations who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal company matters… But other top officials at News Corp. — especially Murdoch — are prepared to join Apple’s six-month pricing trial because it could cement a relationship with Apple’s powerful chief executive, Steve Jobs, and reap benefits for other divisions within the company, namely newspapers.”

Read more in the full article – recommended – here.

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


  1. Give us a ALL digital VCR like recorder device that connects to the cable directly and has the proper HD jack (not those 5 low quality cables) and this is done! You remote in with your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch or computer and schedule the recordings. NO AGREEMENT REQUIRED! CUT THEM OUT OF THE DEAL STEVE!

  2. “…Executives are divided over selling TV shows at such a discount…” Wrong! The model is rent not sell. Frankly it should be sell at 99-cents an episode. It would be more revenue per episode than they make through the cable company. Not everyone is going to do this… it just opens a new revenue stream.

    TV is doing the same thing the record industry did… ignore a technology change, which is inspiring people to torrents and other illegal sources for this material.

  3. A la carte is nice, but this may be a case where subscription actually does make sense. I’ve been using the Netflix app on my iPod, and for 8.99, you get a LOT to watch, certainly more than I have time for.

  4. I’m not a big fan of Murdoch in terms of world views, either, but I respect his business acumen quite a lot.

    And Steve Jobs has a history of being very loyal (to a fault sometimes as in Google and Microsoft) — until you break your word and piss him off.

    I admire that, too.

    And as someone in the publishing business, I’m all for a few good deals being struck that make us more future-proof.

  5. Politics aside…

    I agree with those who predict this 99¢ rental model being a flop.

    Unless it’s 99¢ for an HD version, I really don’t see this gaining traction. AppleTV will remain a “hobby”…

  6. At .99/episode it will ONLY appeal to those who missed scheduling a show on their DVR or want to rent a show as an impulse buy.

    There is NO WAY this deal has any chance of displacing traditional cable or satellite. Even at the current prices, traditional tv offers much more value for the dollar than any other form of entertainment.

    Take a family of four to the movies for two hours and you’ve spent at least half of your monthly bill on a mere two hours of entertainment. Now consider the number of channels (even the ones you actually watch) and shear number of hours cumulative the household spends watching tv on the multiple sets in the house. Not even close!

    Spend your $$ on what you get value out of. For some that may be Macs, iPhones and cable tv and others overpriced things such as Starbucks, concerts and movies.

  7. “..but I doubt Jobs will fall for it.”

    Oh, like he didn’t fall for B Gates back in the 80’s or Eric Schmidt on the Apple BOD a couple of years ago? Really?

    At least Murdoch will be a worthy partner–he’s got nothing to hide. Lib weasels like Schmidt are who u should worry about..

  8. For the networks, show pricing also is about advertising revenue, not just the yotal cost of a production plus profit. So, the iTunes sales revenue also has to replace advertsing sales revenue too. This may be why .99-cent rentals are viable but .99-cent sales are not.

    Ultimately, I also want live news and sports broadcasts on my iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad device, in addition to music, news[papers], magazines, books, podcasts, movies or my favorite TV shows. I don’t understand why the networks are not embracing these devices — after all, they are hemorrhaging viewers and this is where the next generation of customers can be found. And by “next-generation,” I also include myself, a 57-year-old owner of two Macs, an iPhone, iPad, and a 2010 Mac mini (connected to a 58-inch plasma HDTV). I’m even hoping Apple will introduce a 7-inch iPad that can be docked to an Apple-branded, double-DIN radio in my car dashboard.

    Consequently, I want my media to be available on the device I happen to be using at the moment, wherever I happen to be.

    What is it about PERSONAL computing that network and media executives don’t understand?

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