Sometimes big corporations act like Junior High kids. NBC decided to act that way today by not only threatening to “take their ball and go home” if they didn’t get their way, but they also leaked their story to the New York Times, much like a child spreading a rumor on the playground.
The reason for leaking the rumor? Well, that’s an easy enough guess if you read the article. The title of the story is “NBC to End iTunes Sales”, but in actuality, they’ve just reached a stalemate on their negotiations in regards to how much they can charge for content. The studios, of course, want to raise prices, and are also interested in “bundling” content together (i.e. trying to sell you “The 40 Year Old Virgin” when you try to buy “The Office” because Steve Carel is in both of them).
Apple doesn’t want this because they feel it will complicate the store. While, in all honesty, I think we’re adults and perfectly capable of handling a more “complex” iTunes store without getting confused, I applaud Apple for trying to keep prices down, and playing hardball to do it. $1.99 is as much as I’m willing to pay for a TV show right now…and NBC increasing the price is only going to have ONE affect – more piracy. People have a certain sense of entitlement to get their television content for free already, since it comes into their homes on their televisions either as part of their cable package, or for free if they have an over-the-air antenna.
The only reason I buy shows in iTunes (a large portion of which are NBC programs) is because I can watch them on my iPod, iPhone, Macbook Pro, Mac Min, and AppleTV without having to do any encoding or hackery. If NBC decides to ultimately remove themselves from the largest digital marketplace on the planet, there will be no solution for this for me….and there is no way that I’ll pay the same amount, or more, on another service where I won’t be able to transfer the content to my various devices.
The NBC and Apple contract doesn’t expire until December of this year, and if they reach an agreement between now and then, there will be no problems or inconveniences for us consumers. Which, of course, is why the story was leaked today. We’re supposed to get in an uproar and either A) Tell NBC how much we NEED their content on iTunes, or B) Tell Apple that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep NBC in iTunes.
Well, I’m personally sick of these companies trying to strong arm Apple. Not as a fan of Apple – but because as a consumer, I want to pay a fair price for digital content, and I want a fair DRM scheme if one must be implemented. Apple has done an excellent job of keeping that in check, but Universal Music and now NBC are trying to flex their muscles in other areas to ultimately give us less control over the content, and charge us more to watch and/or listen to it.
Frankly, I don’t think NBC has the testicular fortitude to remove their content from iTunes – because if they do, they can kiss their online sales goodbye. Amazon’s Unbox service, and the Xbox Live Marketplace, are the only other services that could come close to providing any kind of sales for NBC – and both of the Tivo (for Amazon) and Xbox install bases COMBINED don’t even come close to equalling the install base of the iPod.