Opinion: NBC pulling its content from iTunes? – YEAH RIGHT!

nbc_logo_240_001.jpgSometimes 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.

Update: Apple has responded by dropping NBC’s fall line-up from iTunes.


  1. says

    the way I see it… TV, Movie, and Music companies should be bowing down at apples feet (maybe even literally). iTunes is the best outlet for their content and it’s still growing. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to give Steve Jobs and company their product and let them market it. These media companies are going to get too greedy and end up shooting themselves in the foot (maybe even literally).

  2. PFFXV says

    How many video downloads does apple sell? You don’t see Apple bragging about those numbers because they are minuscule in comparison to their music business. Apple has been “strong arming” these companies. They’re returning the favor. Pulling shows from the catalogue will not drastically affect NBC’s bottom line, but it will affect Apple’s image.

  3. memyself&I says

    The way I see it is if the content providers keep trying to fleece the market, all Apple has to do is either become a provider, (not likely) or add a dvr to apple tv and universal can kiss their you know what goodbye.

  4. Michael says


    Apple hasn’t been strong arming anyone. NBC wanted to raise the cost of the video downloads to $4.99 an episode.

    No one is going to pay that.

    Apple has now pulled NBC’s new fall line-up from iTunes.

    We’ll see what happens next.

  5. D9 says

    Bottom line to Apple is does this keep people from buying iPods? I don’t think so.

    Plus, I don’t care who they get to sell the shows, NBC/Universal is out of their minds to charge $5.00…good luck w/ the new piracy upsurge!

  6. Bruno Dexter says

    I used to be an anti-piracy advocate but frankly with the way these media companies treat their customers they deserve each and every pirated product. I have no pity for NBC or Universal for that matter.

  7. PFFXV says

    Apple uses its media might to strong arms everyone who is weak enough to buckle. If the reports are true, most media companies feel bullied by Apple even as those same companies feed at Apple’s iTunes trough. What you fail to note in your comment is that Apple CLAIMS that NBC wants to raise the price to 5 bills. NBC only says that they want to bundle shows. Who is telling the truth? We may never know. In this fight, my money is on Apple in its strong-arm-wrestle with NBC.

  8. Michael says


    I could not disagree with you more.

    We do know that Apple is telling the truth. If they weren’t, that would be slander, and NBC would sue their pants off. Apple isn’t stupid.

    Apple is keeping the price down. They are helping you and I. Keeping the price down for our benefits is not “strong arming” poor little NBC.

    NBC is doing just fine. They’re not hurting for money, and the BEST way to fight piracy is low cost.

    Right now it is cheaper to just buy stuff from iTunes than it is to go to the trouble of downloading it for free and encoding all of it…but when a Season of a series starts costing more than $100 – that’s getting out of hand, and is nothing but an incentive to pirate the content.

  9. PFFXV says

    Apple doesn’t lie? Please. They are a corporation that needs to make a profit. They will lie just as readily as MS.

    Why does Apple want to keep the price down? To benefit consumers? No! They make their money off iPods, not iTunes. There is no altruism here. Only two companies fighting for more profits.

    “Right now it is cheaper to just buy stuff from iTunes than it is to go to the trouble of downloading it for free and encoding all of it” How much cheaper can you get than free? It is easier on iTune, but not cheaper.

  10. Michael says


    Can you read?

    I mean seriously…I’m not sure what your purpose is in coming here and trying to make Apple look like the bad guy for keeping costs down on digital content.

    What I said, was that Apple can’t lie about this situation or they will be sued. That’s true, whether you want it to be a lie or not…they simply can’t lie about it without facing litigation. Deal with it.

  11. says

    I used to be an anti-piracy advocate but frankly with the way these media companies treat their customers they deserve each and every pirated product. I have no pity for NBC or Universal for that matter.


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