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Apple iTunes to sell monthly subscription to shows

post #1 of 60
Thread Starter 
Apple Computer's iTunes music and video store on Wednesday took its first step toward a monthly subscription model with a new service called Multi-Pass that lets users buy TV shows on a monthly basis, Reuters reports.

Apple is reportedly launching the service in partnership with Viacom Inc.'s Comedy Central Network, which is rolling out "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" on the service.

iTunes customers will be able to buy the next month's series of 16 new episodes via Multi-Pass for $9.99, or to pay $1.99 per episode. Four episodes air each week and viewers can download each episode after it's been broadcast.

Michele Ganeless, executive vice president at Comedy Central, told Reuters there would be no advertising on the service for the time being, similar to the network's DVD business.

Apple has so far resisted calls from media companies and competitors to adopt a monthly subscription fee favored by the likes of Napster and Real Networks Inc.'s Rhapsody, preferring an a la carte download model where music tracks cost 99 cents and videos $1.99.

Interestingly, a survey recently distributed though Coyote Insight and believed to have been commissioned by either Apple or a potential partner, included several questions about a potential $9.99 monthly subscription service that would apply to iTunes Music Store TV series downloads (though this piece information was withheld from the report).

Apple's introduction of the $9.99 Multi-Pass on Wednesday suggests that the company may have indeed been influential in the survey, which otherwise focused on an iTunes full length feature film service.
post #2 of 60
I'm glad this new feature and this content (Daily Show, Colbert Report) are on iTunes. Bout time!

Now if only Apple would do some Multi-Pass commercials with Milla Jovovich!
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post #3 of 60
This is way too expensive though. At 10 bucks for almost a month, you are about halfway from paying your local cable company to add DVR service to your house and rent their DVR box and be able to watch in full resolution.
post #4 of 60
Apple will neva offer subscription!111!1!

*figures out just what the hell happened*

OMG, OMG, Apple and iTMS subsriptions are teh win!
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post #5 of 60
This is NOT a subscription service.

Read that sentence again.

This is essentially paying for an "album" of shows. If you stop paying the $9.99 per month, you get to keep the ones you've already bought.

Read this entire post again until it sinks in.
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post #6 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by AppleInsider
Michele Ganeless, executive vice president at Comedy Central, told Reuters there would be no advertising on the service for the time being, similar to the network's DVD business.

Interesting.

If I am paying for something...there better not be...ever. I already detest the expanding advertising pre-show at the theaters.
post #7 of 60
Oh man I am glad that Apple did NOT enter the subscription business... which was my first thought when reading the headline.
Well, if they had they would have made themselves ridiculous, since they ridiculed the subscription services, for example when they presented the iTMSs for UK, Germany and France...
post #8 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Interesting.

If I am paying for something...there better not be...ever. I already detest the expanding advertising pre-show at the theaters.

yeah, i've already become annoyed that g4's x-play, which i enjoy in an amused way, suddenly got ads placed at the fonts ends of their previously free podcasts. guess it doesn't matter that the review itself might generate revenue. i remember living in toronto, where it felt every square inch of surface on ANYthing could be sold for a price.

anyway, yes, people are clamoring all over this as a subscription, but this makes WAY more sense the way they are doing it. will timely shows like the daily show really be AS FUNNY two years ago? doubt it. and plus, there are SO MANY new peiosdes, who's going to try to buy all of them at $2 a pop? but if one of these shows is the ONLY reason you subscribe to cable, and assuming 16 episodes is approximately one month of shows, AND you get to retain the shows as .m4v files forever burned to disc, well, then it's a really good deal since you could ditch cable altogether.

i think they're also throwing this out there and see if it floats or sinks. time will tell. does it really hurt apple and comedy central to give it a try?
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post #9 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Interesting.

If I am paying for something...there better not be...ever. I already detest the expanding advertising pre-show at the theaters.

What if the download was subsidized but there was a sponsor?

What if the download was free but there was advertising throughout?

I personally won't be buying these shows because I have DVRs, but if the content was available for free I'd download it for on-the-go viewing like I do with podcasts now. Done deal.

If I didn't have a DVR I'd probably subscribe* to a few of my favorite shows. Speaking of which, why isn't Ricky Gervais on Multi-Pass?!?!
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post #10 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Matthew Yohe
This is way too expensive though. At 10 bucks for almost a month, you are about halfway from paying your local cable company to add DVR service to your house and rent their DVR box and be able to watch in full resolution.

But it is quite a discount off the regular $1.99 per episode. You get 16 episodes for $10 rather than $32.
post #11 of 60
Which if you think about it is about $2/week either way.

Weekly show: $2
4x/week show: $2.50

Seems like they might be homing in on a price point for a package deal?

"Get a month of your favorite show for $9.99, you own it, period."

"Subscribe to your shows like you would a magazine - download it when you want, keep it for as long as you want. It's yours. $9.99 a month, all shows."

Still a lot more than waiting for a DVD if you're interested in archiving, but...


It's too bad that 'subscribe' already means something Kewl and Diff'rent in online downloads (you never own), instead of more traditional magazine and other paper subscriptions.

If you think about it, the current music 'subscription' systems are more like lending libraries. You listen to it, but you don't get to keep it.
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post #12 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
But it is quite a discount off the regular $1.99 per episode. You get 16 episodes for $10 rather than $32.

Exactly. Plus, such a "forward" pricing structure makes perfect sense for material with a limited shelf life, such as topical comedy shows (and, I presume, coming up, things like ESPN 's Sports Desk, other sports shows, news programming, etc.).

People were complaining that, while they didn't mind paying $1.99 for something like Lost, it seemed to high for "disposable" stuff like Conan. I think this system addresses that concern quite nicely.
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post #13 of 60
$10 a month for ONE show is absolutely preposterous!
post #14 of 60
That depends on how you watch TV.

I know people who spend $40 on a cable bill per month, but only watch a show or three. $10/ea would save them money, and they get to *KEEP* it, which they don't with the cable bill.

For TV sluts like me, though, the all-you-can-eat-but-don't-get-to-keep-it of traditional TV is more economical.
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post #15 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Xool
What if the download was subsidized but there was a sponsor?

Not sure what you mean here. Can you explain?

Quote:
Originally posted by Xool
What if the download was free but there was advertising throughout?

I'd be OK with this. Same story with Podcasts. Apple should develop a pay-based system for Podcasters so you have three options:

1. Pay per episode.
2. Subscription.
3. Free with potential for commercials.

Quote:
Originally posted by Xool
I personally won't be buying these shows because I have DVRs

Same here.

So far, Apple's video offerings don't excite me in any way. I have a couple of music videos in my shopping cart (because I don't think I can get them, economically, elsewhere). But that's about it for me (so far).

When they have much more content available and the "Mac mini media center" comes down to the $300-400 range...then my interest will be piqued.
post #16 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Kickaha
That depends on how you watch TV.

I know people who spend $40 on a cable bill per month, but only watch a show or three. $10/ea would save them money, and they get to *KEEP* it, which they don't with the cable bill.

For TV sluts like me, though, the all-you-can-eat-but-don't-get-to-keep-it of traditional TV is more economical.

Agreed. Currently I am here:

Basic cable: $14
Tivo: $13
Netflix: $17

Roughly $45/month.

I get the most value from Netflix currently. If I could get "my" TV shows (West Wing...which ends this year, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Without a Trace) on iTMS and the "Mac mini media center" was more reasonbly prices for this use. I'd bite and dumb cable and Tivo.
post #17 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Thataboy
$10 a month for ONE show is absolutely preposterous!

Then I'm sure you'll agree it is less preposterous than $32 for one show.
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post #18 of 60
Does anyone get the feeling that the "networks" (content organizers and producers) would love to jettison broadcast TV?

First, there is limited space. Second, it is regulated (content) much more so than, say cable. Third, if they can get people to pay for the shows, they won't have to sell to advertisers.

Just a theory.

NOTE: I'm not saying they will, just sort of wondering if they'd like to.
post #19 of 60
I think the problem is that Apple is trying their best to retrofit the pricing structure of music downloads onto TV, but they really don't match. Right now, an hour or so of music on an album costs $10-$15, and download prices are roughly comparable to CDs. To download an hour TV show costs $1.99 - much cheaper than an album of music, despite being a much richer and denser medium. On the other hand, TV is usually "free" with advertising and your cable bill. And DVDs are roughly the same price as music albums. And 5 minute music video downloads are currently the same price as 45-minute shows.

The pricing structures just don't fit.
post #20 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Does anyone get the feeling that the "networks" (content organizers and producers) would love to jettison broadcast TV?

Yes and no. There will always be people willing to put up with ads, for 'free' content and others who just want to watch what they want without having to put up with adverts. The truth is this gives the media companies the ability of trying to please everyone and still make money at the same time.

The only thing is that they want to stop me recording a show on TV, just because I couldn't be there to see it at the time.
post #21 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by ajmas
The only thing is that they want to stop me recording a show on TV, just because I couldn't be there to see it at the time.

Yeah...the "control-freak" tendencies of the entire media/content industry (music, movies, TV) is becoming more clear (and annoying). For example...don't f***ing prevent me from skipping over the "previews" (commercials) you put on the beginning of a DVD that I just rented or bought!
post #22 of 60
Sounds ok to me. ATM digital TV in Ireland is terrible value for money. So many ads and so little content for such a high price! (Something like 80 a month). The vast majority of the movies and the shows are re runs. In fact, any of the new shows I watch are on the free terrestrial channels.

I wouldn't mind paying a tenner for a season (I only watch about 3 shows regularly) and then just have my 10 or so free terrestrial channels. Of course, the quality of the video will have to improve if I'm gonna hook a Mac Mini up to a TV to watch these.

This is all waffle though 'cause the shows are still only available in the US

*goes back to bit torrent*
post #23 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by CosmoNut
[B]This is NOT a subscription service.

You subcsribe for the next 15 shows.

Quote:
Read that sentence again.

Now you do the same.

Quote:
This is essentially paying for an "album" of shows. If you stop paying the $9.99 per month, you get to keep the ones you've already bought.

That's merely an issue of DRM and not the subscription model. You can subscribe to magazines, and you get to keep the magazines if you cancel your subscription after a year. Because Napster has a different DRM system in place, doesn't mean that this is not subscription.


Quote:
Read this entire post again until it sinks in.

No thanks. Got it the first time. It's even in the title.
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post #24 of 60
Gene, they're using 'subscription' differently than other digital media, and more like the traditional paper media use of the term. That's all. Confusing, yes, but not enough to get anyone's panties in a bunch over.

You pay a set amount for a 'boxed set' of episodes, that's all. Otherwise it has nothing to do with 'subscription' as used in the digital music realm.

Who tagged this a subscription, anyway? Apple PR, or reporting media? Bad call, that.
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post #25 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Xool
What if the download was subsidized but there was a sponsor?

Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Not sure what you mean here. Can you explain?

Like it's $.99 and at the very beginning and end is a 10 second blip like:

"The Daily Show is sponsored by Pyramid Brewery, go buy yourself one of our award winning beers today! Our Gold Medal winning Hefeweizen is an excellent choice! Tasy! Buy some Pyramid brew today!"
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post #26 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Matthew Yohe
This is way too expensive though. At 10 bucks for almost a month, you are about halfway from paying your local cable company to add DVR service to your house

Or ALL the way to getting the much superior Tivo? (less the 49$ for the box)
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post #27 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Xool
Like it's $.99 and at the very beginning and end is a 10 second blip like:

"The Daily Show is sponsored by Pyramid Brewery, go buy yourself one of our award winning beers today! Our Gold Medal winning Hefeweizen is an excellent choice! Tasy! Buy some Pyramid brew today!"

Seems like a reasonable model. Might even be the best "middle ground" for a lot of customers.

On a related subject, I am little suprised we don't see this more often on broadcast TV. Could be the expense to the advertiser. It used to be a more common model early in TV and radio.
post #28 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Thataboy
$10 a month for ONE show is absolutely preposterous!

Yes, but we do it all of the time...Look at HBO, I ordered it this week to watch the sopranos...if I get really lucky, there may be one good movie on there per month...if I am lucky.. There are lots of folks who order HBO this way, I know it is foolish, but it is the only legal way to get to see the end of the series that I got hooked on thanks to a "free HBO weekend" when they re-ran the pilot...but at least for my $12/Mo it is commercial free and uncut...

Think about PPV, people pay $35 for a 3hr wwf (or WWE or whatever they are this week) PPV, folks pay $50 for a boxing match, people pay friggen $300+ for NFL sunday ticket...And what really makes you wonder how silly people are is that ALL OF THESE PROGRAMS HAVE ADS!!

PPL will pay insain money for anything, Apple and Viacom realise this.
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post #29 of 60
I'll give it a whirl for a month of the daily show (I don't have cable and do miss the daily show). Although I wish it and the colbert report were together as one $10/month package. That would be a nice value.
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post #30 of 60
I just got digital cable for the first time, and something struck me... a *LOT* of the channels are dedicated for on-demand. I can sign up for the Anime-On-Demand channel for $6/mon, for instance. (I won't until I can see what their lineup is like, but still...)

And with that, I don't get to save it without going through the same VCR/DVR mambo that I have to do now for all my other channels.

I really do think this is the way the industry is going to go in the next few years.
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post #31 of 60
I just LOVE MultiPass.



post #32 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Kickaha
Gene, they're using 'subscription' differently than other digital media, and more like the traditional paper media use of the term. That's all.

exactly, and a good comparison. If you subscribe to a year of a magazine for 12 issues, you aren't required to give back the issues at the end of the subscriptions, and they don't spontaneously burst into flames. But since they are dated materials, their usefulness can decrease rather rapidly, like how my 1997 Macworlds are ONLY useful for humor value at this point to see how bad our predictions of the future technology would be.
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post #33 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by European guy
I just LOVE MultiPass.




I love multipass possessors.

Why THE.FUCK. can´t Apple get their shows to an international audience. I would be the perfect customer for the Daily Show and Colbert Report subscription model. I cannot in any way buy myself to those two shows, they are simply not aired on any channel that are offered through sattelite or cabel here. Instead I am forced to write to the president of Comedy Central each day and ask for a legal copy of the show (since >I would not do anything illegal)

GET IN FUCKING GEAR APPLE.
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post #34 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
I think the problem is that Apple is trying their best to retrofit the pricing structure of music downloads onto TV, but they really don't match. Right now, an hour or so of music on an album costs $10-$15, and download prices are roughly comparable to CDs. To download an hour TV show costs $1.99 - much cheaper than an album of music, despite being a much richer and denser medium. On the other hand, TV is usually "free" with advertising and your cable bill. And DVDs are roughly the same price as music albums. And 5 minute music video downloads are currently the same price as 45-minute shows.

The pricing structures just don't fit.

I think you make a good point. The only thing you didn't include was that you pay $2 for a TV show (much richer and deeper than a music album, yet cheaper) - but how many times do you watch that episode versus how many times do you listen to the album?

As an alternative model.... well I assume that right now, Apple could (technically) stream the Disney Channel on iTunes for a subscription price (how much does Disney get per subscriber per month to have their channel on DirecTV? <$2/mth?). But more likely, like a DVR, they could let you browse a week of Disney (next week, or last week, and choose what you want to watch (download) - giving you one week to watch it and it deletes (and if you try to watch it after 1 week, they offer you a $2 fee to "buy it!").

In fact, technically they could imitate an entire cable TV lineup for a cable TV subscription price - the only catch is that you select in advance what you want 'recorded' (like a DVR) and it downloads in the background. You have a month to watch, AND you can buy the episode for $2.
...... Instead of a cable box, I would rather have a MacMiniTV subscription via the net with a "1 month only" DVR built in.
post #35 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Anders
Why THE.FUCK. can´t Apple get their shows to an international audience.

GET IN FUCKING GEAR APPLE.

I'll bet this is about the content providers, not Apple. I'm sure Apple would love to be selling to every market they possibly can.
post #36 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
I'll bet this is about the content providers, not Apple. I'm sure Apple would love to be selling to every market they possibly can.

Exactly.
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post #37 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
I'll bet this is about the content providers, not Apple. I'm sure Apple would love to be selling to every market they possibly can.

Given Apples history of gradually release of their online offerings I am inclined to say they just aren´t pushing hard enough or they are not willing to use the resources to make the nessesary individual contracts to provide this. It might be harder to make deals covering 20+ markeds instead of just one. But they finally did exactly that with the music store...

What on earth could Comedy Central have against me buying the two shows? They don´t have any deals with any TV networks airing the shows here anyway.
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post #38 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by rok
...AND you get to retain the shows as .m4v files forever burned to disc,...

Not unless they're just file backups. You can't burn them to video DVD.
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post #39 of 60
Quote:
Originally posted by Anders
Given Apples history of gradually release of their online offerings I am inclined to say they just aren´t pushing hard enough or they are not willing to use the resources to make the nessesary individual contracts to provide this.

You are possibly right.

Quote:
Originally posted by Anders
But they finally did exactly that with the music store...

Key word here..."finally".

Quote:
Originally posted by Anders
What on earth could Comedy Central have against me buying the two shows? They don´t have any deals with any TV networks airing the shows here anyway.

You are asking me to apply reason and logic to an industry that seems largely devoid of it. Sorry...unable to compute.
post #40 of 60
Geez all this talk of 30-45 dollar cable blls is making me feel bad with my 115 dollar satelite bill. I have Directv and get ALL channels they offer. But man, am I alone with my huge cable bill?

*Goes to computer and starts to change the cable package*
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