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CBS in talks with Apple over video content distribution

post #1 of 37
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CBS Digital has been in talks with Apple Computer over the prospect of making its video content and television programs available for download from the iTunes Music Store, CBS Digital President Larry Kramer said this week.

The broadcast network on Wednesday unveiled plans to distribute three episodes of prime-time sci-fi series "Threshold" via the CBS.com website while it continues to weigh other distribution options.

In an online report on Thursday, Kramer is quoted as saying a partnership with Apple is a strong possibility as long as the "economic proposal is fair enough."

Apple has already struck a deal with rival network ABC, where it sells episodes of five of ABC's premiere shows, including "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives," through the iTunes store for $1.99 each.

While CBS Digital continues to mull over its next move, Kramer said his network's top priorities include "continuing to establish CBS.com as an online destination, moving more original content online, and aggressively building an audience through communities with mutually shared interests in CBS's programming."

Current negotiations aside, CBS has otherwise shown interest in jumping on the iTunes Music Store bandwagon. Following the release of Apple's fifth-generation video iPod, the network began offering free podcasts, from "60 Minutes" to "Guiding Light," on the iTunes store, possibly as an indication of things to come.

Last week Apple announced that iTunes store customers have downloaded over one million videos since they debuted on October 12.
post #2 of 37
Apple: We're going to sell them for $1.99 per episode.
CBS: Yeah, let's talk about that.
Apple: We're going to sell them for $1.99 per episode.
CBS: But we could sell them for more/less, right?
Apple: Maybe you're not following...

Apple can't let CBS undercut ABC and Apple can't let anyone sell shows at different price points. To do so would put the RIAA in a position to say "see, you have different prices for different videos, now we demand that songs sell for other than 99 cents."
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post #3 of 37
What I'm concerned about is whether these companies will all decide to sell their content on their own sites. Kramer is persuing a deal with iTunes, but at the same time wants to make CBS.com a distribution center for their stuff. I don't know how that would work out.

What would be the price. What would be the quality level. And just as important for iPod users, what would be the method of distribution?

Obviously there would have to be DRM. This is where Apple will screw themselves. By not licensing their DRM to others, these others use WMP DRM instead, insuring that it WON'T play on an iPod. It's the rock and a hard place for Apple.

I think that Apple should do what Amazon does. Have stores within the iTunes site. Just make sure that those stores hew to certain iTune standards insofar as the interface goes. This has proven to be one of the most profitable areas to Amazon. It could be for Apple as well. Let these companies charge what they want. Competition will level the price field fairly soon. But the iTunes experience will be intact. Apple would still be able to sell as well.

They would probably get far more content that way. It's unlikely that most content providers would pass up a chance to get a place in the iTunes store.

Apple has the same problem with CD's and DVD's. Those companies want to license Fairplay to put on the disks, but Apple hasn't been willing to let them do so. So more and more disks will not be rippable to iTunes.

Apple really does have to think about this.
post #4 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
Apple has the same problem with CD's and DVD's. Those companies want to license Fairplay to put on the disks, but Apple hasn't been willing to let them do so. So more and more disks will not be rippable to iTunes.

Apple really does have to think about this.

Other than the fact that these new DRM audio CD's are shipping with a Windows rootkit that idiot users are more than happy to install, how exactly are people not able to rip the tracks into iTunes? And what does any of that have to do with my Mac?
post #5 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by CosmoNut
Apple: We're going to sell them for $1.99 per episode.
CBS: Yeah, let's talk about that.
Apple: We're going to sell them for $1.99 per episode.
CBS: But we could sell them for more/less, right?
Apple: Maybe you're not following...

Apple can't let CBS undercut ABC and Apple can't let anyone sell shows at different price points. To do so would put the RIAA in a position to say "see, you have different prices for different videos, now we demand that songs sell for other than 99 cents."



I love it. Sounds exactly like the way "The Steve" might negotiate.
post #6 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by schmidm77
Other than the fact that these new DRM audio CD's are shipping with a Windows rootkit that idiot users are more than happy to install, how exactly are people not able to rip the tracks into iTunes? And what does any of that have to do with my Mac?

Because I've purchased CD's over the past few years that not only won't play on my Mac's, but in some cases wouldn't even eject from the drives, and in a couple of cases actually resulted in a complete lock-up of the machines. These played well on a PC.

You are talking about Sonys' software. But that is only the tip of the iceberg.

These problems have been well publicized. Many here have had the same problems.
post #7 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
What would be the price. What would be the quality level. And just as important for iPod users, what would be the method of distribution?

That is what is interesting about what Apple is doing. If you watch carefully, what they are really trying to do is standardize all of this. Make is easier for users/customers. They did this to some extent with podcasts. Now it is super-easy to get podcasts to your box and iPod. Users don't need to know how to configure a special podcast client. Just go to iTunes, search, find, click.
post #8 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
Because I've purchased CD's over the past few years that not only won't play on my Mac's, but in some cases wouldn't even eject from the drives, and in a couple of cases actually resulted in a complete lock-up of the machines. These played well on a PC.

You are talking about Sonys' software. But that is only the tip of the iceberg.

These problems have been well publicized. Many here have had the same problems.

But they will play in a standard cd player? I've never experienced this, so I still don't understand how a CD could be manufactured to not be playable on a Mac... especially when you are just dealing with regular CDA tracks.
post #9 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by schmidm77
But they will play in a standard cd player? I've never experienced this, so I still don't understand how a CD could be manufactured to not be playable on a Mac... especially when you are just dealing with regular CDA tracks.

Yes, they play on a standard cd player. Because computers don't play a cd the way standard cd players do. Standard players don't have computers inside to look at the information on the disk. They don't go on the internet to find the names of the tracks to display them in a player app. etc. All of this can be used for protection schemes. If it doesn't recognise the Mac, it can be written to simply not play. If they aren't careful, then worse can happen.
post #10 of 37
FOX!
24!
NOW!
post #11 of 37
I now to return of the humanfellow from November 2004:

When can Canada download TV shows?

Let is begin again...
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post #12 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
Yes, they play on a standard cd player. Because computers don't play a cd the way standard cd players do. Standard players don't have computers inside to look at the information on the disk. They don't go on the internet to find the names of the tracks to display them in a player app. etc. All of this can be used for protection schemes. If it doesn't recognise the Mac, it can be written to simply not play. If they aren't careful, then worse can happen.

that still makes no sense at all. as I said, I've never run into this problem. can you give me an example of a cd that is known to not play on macs?
post #13 of 37
60 Munutes on the iPod O_o.
How About PBS as well. I'd love to have Front Line, Charlie Rose, Nova, The American Experience & Mystery!.
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post #14 of 37
This is only the beginning. The shift is on and Apple has positioned themselves to be the leader in online video downloads and distribution.

It's only a matter of time before more entites line up to allow Apple to offer their content.
post #15 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by CosmoNut
Apple: We're going to sell them for $1.99 per episode.
CBS: Yeah, let's talk about that.
Apple: We're going to sell them for $1.99 per episode.
CBS: But we could sell them for more/less, right?
Apple: Maybe you're not following...

Apple can't let CBS undercut ABC and Apple can't let anyone sell shows at different price points. To do so would put the RIAA in a position to say "see, you have different prices for different videos, now we demand that songs sell for other than 99 cents."

Brilliant: dead on correct. Steve and company find the sweet spot and spread it consistently to all clients.

It eliminates legal loop holes and provides a level playing field.

It forces the clients to win by providing the superior product, in this case programming.
post #16 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by schmidm77
that still makes no sense at all. as I said, I've never run into this problem. can you give me an example of a cd that is known to not play on macs?

Try these links. You will more likely believe what I'm saying if it comes from other sources as well. Actually, there are a lot of links about this, even from here on Appleinsider. But one or two should be enough. As you can see, it's easy.

http://www.wired.com/news/technology...,52665,00.html

http://www.digitalmedievalist.com/it...ve/000031.html
post #17 of 37
CSI would make me a very happy iTunes user.
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post #18 of 37
I'm wondering if there might be room for a different model. Why not offer a choice between free downloads with commercials or purchasing without.
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post #19 of 37
I'd take free downloads with commercials, myself. There are a few shows I might buy to keep at $1.99 per, but that will add up if I buy every single show I want to watch at that price.

Furthermore, to the person looking for Charlie Rose downloads for their iPod - you can subscribe to Charlie Rose through audible.com - they are audio only episodes, but you do get them 5 days a week, just as on TV.

Also, many PBS shows are now available (audio only) through iTMS' Podcast section.
Link to PBS Podcast section:
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/M...laylists&id=33

Much of PBS' news output is available there, and I suspect more is on the way.

It's also worth noting that Robert X. Cringely's NerdTV PBS show is available by BitTorrent download in an iPod compatible (MPEG-4, AAC) format. More info at:
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/nerdtv/
post #20 of 37
Man, these guys are really slow learners.

So CBS thinks they can build the brand by selling content on their own site? Cool! Now, I just have to figure out how their site works, where it is, what DRM if any they are using, what format they are using, what resolution they are offering, see if it plays on what I own....

Now, off to NBC to do it all over again! And Fox! And Bravo! And PBS! And Discovery! And TMC! And.....gosh, what fun!

It must be why record labels have been so successful selling music downloads directly from their own sites.

And of course brand building is much more important to the consumer than silly stuff like being able to see everything that's available in one place with a consistent interface, pricing and formatting. You know, some kind of site that has proven wildly successful and has phenomenal market penetration and name recognition. But maybe CBS, that titan of digital content delivery, can do it better!

I know the "content providers" are hoping to maintain more control this time (after the runaway success of iTMS/iPod caught the record companies off guard), but man, this horse has definitely left the barn. While you guys were dicking around, "testing the waters", Apple done gone and made a business.

Just put your stuff up on iTMS already and make your money. So you're not going to be the gate-keeper to the digital future. Deal with it.

Anyway, most of your shows suck, so it's not like anybody was craving full immersion in the "CBS experience".
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post #21 of 37
This is all very fine but what of the shows such as ABC's Lost and The Night Stalker which are already being distributed. Is it just me but they were being posted the day after each show aired. But I have seen neither shows, following the slots on Wednesday and Thursday being posted. Has there been a contractual dispute that I was unaware of? Where are the latest episodes of these shows?

Dean
post #22 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by deanmcg
This is all very fine but what of the shows such as ABC's Lost and The Night Stalker which are already being distributed. Is it just me but they were being posted the day after each show aired. But I have seen neither shows, following the slots on Wednesday and Thursday being posted. Has there been a contractual dispute that I was unaware of? Where are the latest episodes of these shows?

Dean

Yes, the day after.

Due to the schedule, those shows were repeats.
post #23 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by schmidm77
that still makes no sense at all. as I said, I've never run into this problem. can you give me an example of a cd that is known to not play on macs?

I remember there being some CDs from Sony, here is one of many stories on that topic: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/commen...ippled_cd.html

Anyways, I am still wondering: WHEN WILL ANYONE OUTSIDE THE US GET SOME TV EPISODES??? <-- yes, I am yelling, because it is pissing me off how other countries always have no other way then to wait! I am lucky I live in Germany, but people like the Australians, who just recently got a music store... That is one thing Apple needs to work on!

I want some TV Stuff for my iPod too, and for my Mac anyway...
post #24 of 37
What I really want are video podcasts of sports highlights. You can choose your favourite teams and just get the recaps from the night before. That's something I'd actually watch. Not these TV shows.
post #25 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by murk
I'm wondering if there might be room for a different model. Why not offer a choice between free downloads with commercials or purchasing without.

More plausible imo is $1.99 sans commercials,$0.99 with commercials
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post #26 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by schildkroeter
I remember there being some CDs from Sony, here is one of many stories on that topic: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/commen...ippled_cd.html

Anyways, I am still wondering: WHEN WILL ANYONE OUTSIDE THE US GET SOME TV EPISODES??? <-- yes, I am yelling, because it is pissing me off how other countries always have no other way then to wait! I am lucky I live in Germany, but people like the Australians, who just recently got a music store... That is one thing Apple needs to work on!

I want some TV Stuff for my iPod too, and for my Mac anyway...

That wasn't the strongest example, I saw that too. Look a few posts up to my earlier post. Those show the destructive cd's. The ones that can really screw up your machine.

I had one of those disks, and threw it away. so that I wouldn't forget.
post #27 of 37
I'm not going to watch anything with commercials, especially if you can't fast forward through them. The model for watching media is changing, consumers want choice and hopefully Itunes can do that by getting the content but it's going to be a struggle against these dinosaur networks.
post #28 of 37
Why would you want to watch a one-hour show like 24 when the iPod's battery will only play 1 1/2 2 hours of video.
post #29 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by Danosaur
Why would you want to watch a one-hour show like 24 when the iPod's battery will only play 1 1/2 2 hours of video.

Because you could watch it on your computer just as well. You could still listen to music after the show. iPods will have better battery life as time goes on.
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post #30 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by Danosaur
Why would you want to watch a one-hour show like 24 when the iPod's battery will only play 1 1/2 2 hours of video.

30GB = 2 to 2.25 hours of video.

60GB = 3 to 3.5 hours of video.

That's a big difference.

All the reviews I've seen so far have showed that the batteries last longer than Apple's specs.
post #31 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by snipe
More plausible imo is $1.99 sans commercials,$0.99 with commercials

CBS seems to be thinking that way, with a few shows available(CSI, for one) to some markets(via Concast) for .99$ the day after broadcast, with advertisements. But this is in owned and operated stations.

This VOD does seem like it will be a market with room for growth, and so the networks will be exploring it. I hope Apple pursues this, as the ad free shows will be appealing to a lot of people. I suppose if Apple is serious about pursuing it as a market, the idea of ads included will be there, although I don't find it appealing.

There is a resonance with people and the video iPod now. Apple will not be able to be a sole provider of any show, but if it does a good job, it could be a quality provider, and this would sell video iPods, or any other video device that Apple may be coming up with.
post #32 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by NordicMan
CBS seems to be thinking that way, with a few shows available(CSI, for one) to some markets(via Concast) for .99$ the day after broadcast, with advertisements. But this is in owned and operated stations.

This VOD does seem like it will be a market with room for growth, and so the networks will be exploring it. I hope Apple pursues this, as the ad free shows will be appealing to a lot of people. I suppose if Apple is serious about pursuing it as a market, the idea of ads included will be there, although I don't find it appealing.

There is a resonance with people and the video iPod now. Apple will not be able to be a sole provider of any show, but if it does a good job, it could be a quality provider, and this would sell video iPods, or any other video device that Apple may be coming up with.

Don't forget that the NBC deal is more like a video on demand sort of thing. It stays on the DVR, can't be played anywhere else, and when the DVR is full, has to be deleted. Also, no one knows how long you can keep it on the DVR, or for how long after the original show airs it will be available for download.
post #33 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
Don't forget that the NBC deal is more like a video on demand sort of thing. It stays on the DVR, can't be played anywhere else, and when the DVR is full, has to be deleted. Also, no one knows how long you can keep it on the DVR, or for how long after the original show airs it will be available for download.

Yes, there are lots of catches. The thing is, that if Apple does a good job, and people are seeing that it works well, and they are not hamstrung. but rather have a good value, then our favourite computer company should do all right.

Did you read that the directors guild is happy that there will be more circulation of the programming? I wondered what the actors would have to say about this when they wanted a bigger bite of the Apple's portion, and that was with a price of 1.99$. How will anyone make out big with the .99$ price?
post #34 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by NordicMan
Yes, there are lots of catches. The thing is, that if Apple does a good job, and people are seeing that it works well, and they are not hamstrung. but rather have a good value, then our favourite computer company should do all right.

Did you read that the directors guild is happy that there will be more circulation of the programming? I wondered what the actors would have to say about this when they wanted a bigger bite of the Apple's portion, and that was with a price of 1.99$. How will anyone make out big with the .99$ price?

I'm not sure if they wanted a bigger share of Apple's part, or t a bigger share.

I would imaginr that as long as everyone is getting paid for their work, everyone will be happy.

The main problem here is considered to be for the local stations. They usually have the reruns. No one is sure as to how that will turn out.
post #35 of 37
Now, why can't apple buy the content for .99 per track from them re-format thereby adding value it into h.264 then charge 1.99 for the track and sell it on itunes. Or, charge 1.00 for the track and keep the penny. More content= more ipod sales.

++++++++++++++


From the Mac Observer:

Analyst: Apple to Face Harder Battle to Dominate Digital Video
by Bryan Chaffin, 8:55 PM EST, November 8th, 2005

Apple Computer is is going to have a harder time dominating digital video than it did conquering the digital audio market, according to a Wall Street analyst. David C. Bailey of Goldman, Sachs & Co. said that the news of CBS and NBC offering TV shows for US$0.99 per episode through video-on-demand services is an indication that competition in this market will be tougher than in the digital audio market. In comparison, Apple is selling episodes of five TV shows from ABC and Disney for US$1.99.

"The more aggressive price of $0.99 per episode compared to Apple's $1.99 and ability to watch the shows on a TV (instead of a computer or iPod under Apple's agreement) are strong indications that Apple will not be able to easily replicate its digital audio dominance in the nascent market for digital video," wrote Mr. Bailey in a research note obtained by The Mac Observer.

The research note did not get into details such as whether or not the rental model of NBC and CBS will be more attractive to consumers than Apple's purchase model, or other such esoteric aspects that differentiate the two.

The firm reiterated an "Inline" rating, which means Goldman Sachs expects the stock to trade inline with other stocks being covered by Mr. Bailey. A secondary view of "Attractive" was also reiterated, meaning that, "The investment outlook over the following 12 months is favorable relative to the coverage group's historical fundamentals and/or valuation." A price target was not offered.

Apple's stock traded lower today to close at 59.835, down 0.40 (-0.66%) on moderate volume.

*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a small share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.
post #36 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by humanfellow
I now to return of the humanfellow from November 2004:

When can Canada download TV shows?

Let is begin again...

Dude!

If you are a true Canadian, you should be watching HOCKEY! Haha!

Two yrs ago, Sympatico offered all NHL games via DSL the day after the games were played. Not sure if they are doing that this year.

Yeah, let us have some real Canadian TV programs to download. I just wonder what would they be...
post #37 of 37
Quote:
Originally posted by kmok1
Yeah, let us have some real Canadian TV programs to download. I just wonder what would they be...

Don't hold your breath for these international TV downloads... Most of the major broadcast networks are just beginning to test the waters for on-demand viewing of their programming. They're going to try out all of the options, not just jump on a single bandwagon all at once. And don't complain to Apple about leaving you out if you live in Canada or Germany or the UK -- look to your own content providers for answers.

With or without ads?
Through cable boxes or computers?
Streaming or full downloads?
Pay-per-view or allow users to own the episode?
Free, or at a price?
Season subscriptions like a podcast, or single episodes only?
What kind of file formats and DRM to use?
Limits on number of times played, copies made, etc?

The combinations of possibilities are endless, and it's going to take YEARS before one standard way of doing things rises to real popularity. Hell, they're still working their asses off lobbying congress for a broadcast flag to defeat DVRs. And while they continue to take their time, the impatient early adopters (like us) will continue to find our own solutions like BitTorrent.

For the record, I don't think the $1.99 per episode model Apple is offering is too bad, especially considering they're offering the programs ad free. As someone who works in advertising, though, I do find the model a bit unsettling if it were to take off.

Ideally, I'd like to see a podcast-like subscription model. You pay a small upfront fee, say $6.99 for a typical 22 episode season, and new episodes are downloaded automatically when they become available. Each episode includes 1 minute of non-defeatable pre-roll advertising in order to help subsidize the cost. As an alternative, let the subscriptions be free and contain regular commercial breaks.
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