Why the iTunes TV Shows NEED Tiered Pricing

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Variety is reporting this morning that Apple wants to take the price of TV Shows in iTunes down to .99 cents and episode. They even claim that is the reason for NBC leaving iTunes. I think that’s a completely false for a variety of reasons — BUT — I think this brings up a good point that needs to be discussed.

iTunes desperately needs tiered pricing for TV Shows.


Well…that sounds like a cue for a list if I ever read one…

1) Not all Shows are the same length – An episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force about 13 minutes. An episode of The Office is about 22 minutes, and an episode of Lost is about 45 minutes. Why are they all $1.99? I don’t buy Aqua Teen in iTunes because it feels like a rip-off to pay the same price for a 13 minutes video as I would a 45 minute video.

2) Old Shows should be cheaper – Studios could be charging less for older shows. New shows have a high production cost, and I can understand them needing a larger income from them, but older shows made their money back long ago, and studios can and would charge less for some of them. Just like when a DVD season of a TV show drops in price after a while, so too, and should, shows on iTunes.

3) Happier Studios means more content – While I DO NOT think the Studios should be in control here, giving them a little flexibility would be a good thing. It would reduce the tension between Apple and them, and would give them a few different options on how to market their content to us.

I don’t think Studios should be able to charge $4.99 an episode for a new show. I don’t think they should be able to bundle shows I don’t want with shows I do want…but I do thinking giving the Studios a little flexibility would be good for all of us.

What do you think?

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Kossi Adzo

Kossi Adzo is a technology enthusiast and digital strategist with a fervent passion for Apple products and the innovative technologies that orbit them. With a background in computer science and a decade of experience in app development and digital marketing, Kossi brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to the Apple Gazette team.

8 thoughts on “Why the iTunes TV Shows NEED Tiered Pricing

  1. I think this is the most compelling argument yet *for* tiered pricing. Everyone complains that tiered pricing would just allow the studios to rip us off, when it’s clear (regarding your ATHF example) that they already are! I think it’s a rip off for an episode of Sliders (which was shown and cancelled in the 90s) to cost the same as an episode of Heroes. But any argument for tiered pricing is immediately shot down because the studios are “greedy”. Of course they are, that’s why they’re in business! I think that any sort of over-greediness (such as bundles or over-charging) would be punished by lower sales in iTunes, and that the market would sort itself out over time.

  2. Your opinion makes sense when lookded at largely from a studio perspective. But if one is thinking from the point of view of consumers, the prices of TV shows on iTunes should be the same regardless of length of feature or date of original production. Studios should know enough to take consumer’s expectations into account. Consumers who are used to seeing network TV shows for free (except for commercials) are not ready to pay more for one show vs the other. Furthermore, it introduces a level of complexity to TV watching that most of us are just not prepared to accommodate. Convenience and simplicity for the consumer need to continue/carry over into the realm of online downloads as much as possible.

  3. I think it’s a miracle that Apple have manged to keep structured pricing in place for so long, and I think they should keep it there for as long as they can. Where else in the world can you shop without being bombarded by rebates, bundled deals (buy one get one at 50% off etc.), and without (media example) studios trying to undercut each other in a Walmartesque ‘let’s take over the world by slashing prices and killing competition’ retail economy. Studio’s need to wrap their head around the fact that they are wholesalers, and should have absolutely zero control over retail channel pricing. If Apple don’t want to pay their wholesale price, then take your product of the shelves, that’s fine. but don’t do it because Apple won’t fix retail prices for you.

    Nope. I like iTunes for the same reason that it is wildly successful. It is simple.

  4. special TV show, 2-hour episode season finale – $1.99
    1 hr TV show, (42 minutes-ish) – $1.99
    1/2 hr TV show, (22 minutes-ish) – $1.99
    13 minute Aqua Teen 13 minutes – $1.99


    3 minute music video – $1.99
    Yes there is disparity in TV shows, but the music video price is truly wrong

  5. I agree that having just one price for the wide variations of TV shows is wrong, given the diverse lengths of the clips. However, I also agree on apple’s point that the pricing for the iTunes **** Store should be very transparent to make sure you buy just a song, without looking at the pricetag first. So my idea would be to introduce two, maybe three different price points ($1.49, $1.99, $2.99 in US currency) to allow for more fair pricing for different types of videos. However, they have to make sure that whatever these prices are, they have to be in an acceptable range to keep the store an interesting option for consumers.

  6. Have you stopped to consider the possibility that after selling billions of songs and videos, leaving every other online entertainment outlet in the dust, that Apple may actually know what they’re doing?

    They didn’t get where they are by following the advice of the armchair quarterbacks who never saw the results of the surveys Apple’s commissioned. Think about it.

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