Networks skeptical of Apple's push for $1 iTunes TV episodes

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
As Apple hopes to sell some TV episodes for 99 cents through iTunes, major networks have responded with apprehension to the plan, which could alienate local affiliates and cable providers.



According to The New York Times, Apple's plan has been met with skepticism from major networks, but that doesn't mean they aren't listening. "We're willing to try anything," one anonymous TV network executive was quoted as saying, "but the key word is 'try.'"



The news follows last week's announcement from CBS CEO Les Moonves, that his network was considering a price drop to 99 cents per episode for certain TV shows.



But as networks consider the plan, they must also factor in their existing lucrative deals with local cable providers and affiliates. Those partners stand to lose out considerably if iTunes TV sales take away viewers.



The Times noted that the business of TV episode sales is still new, and relatively small. As Apple counts down to 10 billion songs sold on the iTunes Music Store, an estimated 375 million TV episodes have been sold since they were first made available in 2005. In addition, revenue from iTunes is said to have been "marginal" for producers and distributors.



Apple's push for lower prices is connected to the forthcoming launch of the iPad, due to arrive by the end of March. In fact, the Times said some TV executives anonymously said the Cupertino, Calif., company is "desperate" to line up content for the iPad to ensure its success.



The report also noted that Apple is still pushing a $30-per-month TV show subscription plan, which is said to still be on the negotiating table with networks. Apple's subscription proposal was first revealed last November, and would reportedly include an all-you-can-eat download plan that would compete with cable.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 44
    kiweekiwee Posts: 102member
    What they should do if they really want to make it big is to go International. In Europe some of the shows are 1 year behind. Everyone downloads the latest episodes from pirate bay because there is no other way of watching them. Lost/Heroes etc.



    There are no good legal alternatives right now.. Unless you don't want to be a season behind everyone else.



    And don't say HULU.. Not accessible from Europe.
  • Reply 2 of 44
    igeniusigenius Posts: 1,240member
    How will Steve save the TV industry if they won't agree to his schemes?



    Same with the publishing industry!
  • Reply 3 of 44
    How much does each network get from our cable TV bills?

    I bet it's a LOT less than a buck-a-show.



    Even a $30 per-month plan I bet would work out better for the networks.
  • Reply 4 of 44
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kiwee View Post


    What they should do if they really want to make it big is to go International. In Europe some of the shows are 1 year behind. Everyone downloads the latest episodes from pirate bay because there is no other way of watching them. Lost/Heroes etc.



    There are no good legal alternatives right now.. Unless you don't want to be a season behind everyone else.



    And don't say HULU.. Not accessible from Europe.



    Yes Europe is behind sadly. I would buy a lot of episodes/seasons for 99 cents/episode. If Apple wants to make digital revolution even bigger they have to push it harder outside USA/Canada.
  • Reply 5 of 44
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iGenius View Post


    How will Steve save the TV industry if they won't agree to his schemes?



    Same with the publishing industry!



    The same way 30 years ago no one thought that average Joe needs computer in his house.
  • Reply 6 of 44
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The news follows last week's announcement from CBS CEO Les Moonves, that his network was considering a price drop to 99 cents per episode for certain TV shows.



    But as networks consider the plan, they must also factor in their existing lucrative deals with local cable providers and affiliates. Those partners stand to lose out considerably if iTunes TV sales take away viewers.



    What it will most certainly help is sales of HD episodes, which I alsways and systematically shun at present. You can notice the difference -for sure- but than again for the one time I watch an episode....



    The only one in our household watching a TV episode more than once is our five year old - and he does not care about SD vs. HD.....
  • Reply 7 of 44
    gordygordy Posts: 979member
    Not sure why there is an issue. Comcast OnDemand already sells TV episodes for 99 cents--or free.
  • Reply 8 of 44
    comcast is awful. The content the provide for the price is rediculous. I pay $60 a month for nothing fancy and there is nothing that i watch. Cable companies are raping us on cost. i hope apple comes out with a subscription plan. I am all for that. If the cable companies wanted to compete they should come out with a much cheaper plan and let customers choose 10 channels they want. I dont need 72 channels i dont watch 95% of the garbage on them.
  • Reply 9 of 44
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iGenius View Post


    How will Steve save the TV industry if they won't agree to his schemes?



    Same with the publishing industry!



    Let's see - he want to drive the eBook price up to compete against the Kindle and he wants to drive the TV episodes down to hook people into the iPad since he's seen that excluding everything else out due to lack of Flash won't work. Does he really think the TV industry hasn't learned the lesson of the music industry?
  • Reply 10 of 44
    ? the cost is .99 per episode, otherwise I'll pass. 1.99/2.99 is a deal breaker for me, I will do without the episode I may have missed.
  • Reply 11 of 44
    hzchzc Posts: 63member
    One thing's for certain, with some TV episodes currently at $3.49 and the season subscription at $70, they are heading in the wrong direction.



    I would definitely buy TV episodes at 99¢ and sometimes even at $1.99, but no way at $3.49! The cost of one season of one TV series is about as much as I pay monthly for cable! I have to wonder just how many people pay at these prices!
  • Reply 12 of 44
    quevarquevar Posts: 101member
    Vote with your dollars if you think the cable companies are costing too much. They can only keep charging that much if people keep paying it. I got sick of it and switched to an antenna. It's great, especially since over-the-air TV is HD quality (and not the compressed HD that cable companies spit out). And, you can even hook it up to your computer with a TV tuner to watch it later. Cable companies encrypt everything and you have to buy one of the few devices that support cable cards or use their system.



    There are a few shows that I like that aren't broadcast over the air, so I buy them on iTunes. Granted, this doesn't work for sports, but I've saved hundreds of dollars in the past year by dumping cable.



    If enough people get sick of the prices and dump it, they will change. If everyone keeps paying them, they have no reason to change and will just keep increasing the price. If you call to cancel, explain why you're dumping it.



    Here's another sad attempt by the cable companies to get ultimate control of what we watch:

    http://keepfreetvfree.com/
  • Reply 13 of 44
    Screw cable! Unless cable had financial ties in creating and producing said tv shows what do the various tv production companies have to worry from cable...



    Of course these are the same tv productions that over the years have relied too heavily on reality tv which has turned me off to tv.



    So I hope tv comes around with some of their classic shows and some new stuff for .99. I'd buy enough to tide me over when I watch the boob tube with my own channel/show lineup.



    But back to cable, I have less channels then I did at the start, those channels have more crap than entertaining shows, and the only thing I have to show is an ever increasing cable bill which leads me back to my original premise...



    Screw cable!
  • Reply 14 of 44
    For the same reason that it doesn't make sense to pay $60 per month to the Cable company if you rarely watch, it also doesn't make sense to pay Apple $30 per month and only watch 2 shows.



    1. Lower the price drastically which will spur consumption. Why pay $0.99 for something you won't watch again? Doesn't make sense.

    a. Should be $0.49 or less for HD quality streaming.

    b. They would get triple the volume of sales.

    c. This would also cut down on pirating.



    2. To supplement income based on the lower price, sell one ad slot.

    a. A single one minute commercial.

    b. This can be done like the FBI warning on DVDs with no fast forwarding.



    3. To counter lost sales of DVDs, this model should only be for streaming access. Purchasing episodes for download would be at higher rates - $1.99/2.99...

    ex. Lala.com's 0.10 internet purchases of music compared to download of $0.89.



    4. Allow people to discover new shows with free streaming of a few episodes of every show.



    5. Allow content providers the ability to purchase advertising spots in iTunes to promote their shows based on purchasing history.

    ex. I like Lost, so I might like Flash Forward.



    6. Allow networks to host streaming of live events ie. Sports, Oscars... This solves for people's biggest compliant about cutting cable - access to sports.



    7. The consumption model allows a clear way to compensate creative and production staff - percentage of each sale. This should encourage independent producers to put their shows on iTunes.
  • Reply 15 of 44
    Cable works great for me. Comcast is rock solid for me, recently lowering my monthly costs by 30 bucks a month.
  • Reply 16 of 44
    nkhmnkhm Posts: 928member
    Apple really can't win - they give into the distributors and are criticised by the public, they try and please the public and are criticised by the distributors.



    People are very quick to criticise apple re. music prices, movie and tv prices and soon eBook prices - when are people going to realise that apple operate in a free market economy and don't really have the strength to dictate prices (or anything else) if they are to succeed.



    I think a lot of people forget how things were before the itunes store - yes - there are lots of alternatives out there now, but at the time jobs was negotiating with the music labels he had a massive uphill struggle.



    It's very disappointing that content providers still haven't grasped the fact that they either need to step up to the table and modernise, or their content will simply be stolen and everyone will miss out.



    Particularly annoying is the situation with US shows being shown several months later over here in the UK, by which time we've downloaded and watched them, resulting in lower recorded viewing figures for the UK TV channels and shows potentially being cancelled in the UK because of perceived lack of interest. It's a stupid situation and needs fixing - but apple can't fix it - fox, cbs, sony etc. etc. are the ones who need to modernise.
  • Reply 17 of 44
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    But as networks consider the plan, they must also factor in their existing lucrative deals with local cable providers and affiliates. Those partners stand to lose out considerably if iTunes TV sales take away viewers.



    The Times noted that the business of TV episode sales is still new, and relatively small. As Apple counts down to 10 billion songs sold on the iTunes Music Store, an estimated 375 million TV episodes have been sold since they were first made available in 2005. In addition, revenue from iTunes is said to have been "marginal" for producers and distributors.



    Sales have been marginal because they haven't hit a price point that the majority of the market will bear. I seem to remember a computer program on an old Apple II at school that taught us that principle with a lemonade stand. For maximum profit, in a simplistic model, the margin is secondary to the number of units sold.



    It seems to me that execs are obsessed with arbitrary margin numbers and are forgetting that a lower price will speed the product to more people, generating more revenue at a lower price point. Also, a wider circulation of media, be it music or video or whatever, often creates opportunities for additional revenue in other areas. E.g., cheaper music downloads lead to more fans leads to more tickets sold on tour. I'm not sure where that opportunity will lie with TV shows, but they've got clever marketing companies on their side, I'm sure they'll come up with something.



    Also, with cable providers offering DVR units at attractive prices to subscribers, commercials seem irrelevant, for the large part. I know I sure don't watch 'em anymore, and as the technology becomes more widely available, it seems to me that advertisers will catch on and pay less for ad space. So breaking in to another market for selling the product would make sense for the future, AFAI am concerned.



    I'm not one to normally get involved in this type of thing, but the trolls here really just bend over and crap on the comment board, don't they? When understandable sentences do come out, I've started attributing that to the whole 'unlimited number of monkeys with typewriters' phenomenon. For all that just have an opinion and add something intelligent to the discussions here, thanks.
  • Reply 18 of 44
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nkhm View Post


    It's very disappointing that content providers still haven't grasped the fact that they either need to step up to the table and modernise, or their content will simply be stolen and everyone will miss out.



    Particularly annoying is the situation with US shows being shown several months later over here in the UK, by which time we've downloaded and watched them, resulting in lower recorded viewing figures for the UK TV channels and shows potentially being cancelled in the UK because of perceived lack of interest. It's a stupid situation and needs fixing - but apple can't fix it - fox, cbs, sony etc. etc. are the ones who need to modernise.



    You make a few great points, and it seems your views are shared by a lot of our friends on the other side of the pond.



    I think I understand what you mean by modernisation, but I don't think it's a technical issue. I think they've got some warped, misguided motive for delaying shows, e.g. they may think they are creating more demand by attempting to force European viewers to wait. And I'd be interested to know whether that happens in reverse as well. I love a lot of the shows that come out of the UK, and I've never even considered that they might not be broadcast simultaneously.
  • Reply 19 of 44
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quevar View Post


    It's great, especially since over-the-air TV is HD quality (and not the compressed HD that cable companies spit out).



    Over the air digital television is compressed and delivered as an MPEG2 transport stream. The quality you get depends upon the level of compression used at the TV station. It could very well be better than digital cable TV, but it's still compressed.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quevar View Post


    And, you can even hook it up to your computer with a TV tuner to watch it later.



    It's a nice theory, but I have yet to find anything that does a particularly good job of this for PCs. (I've tried WinTV, BeyondTV, and Mythbuntu. Of those, WinTV worked the best but none were particularly impressive.) Maybe the elgato products are better?



    You also need a fairly powerful system to watch over the air ATSC, as all decoding is done by your system CPU (with possible help from your graphics processor).



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quevar View Post


    Here's another sad attempt by the cable companies to get ultimate control of what we watch:

    http://keepfreetvfree.com/



    I realize this may be a dumb question, but: Out of curiosity, is that site being run by a cable company? It seems there is very little background information available there outside of a way to contact representatives.



    I'd hope that such a measure doesn't come to pass, and I intend to make that known. No, I don't watch much TV, but when I do, I expect that local over the air TV will be there. It's very nice to have it when you need it.
  • Reply 20 of 44
    Many shows don't get picked up or renewed by TV networks, but still have large bases of viewers.



    iTunes would be the perfect platform for content producers to sell directly to consumers.



    Instead of getting the run-around from the networks and dealing with censors,

    market and sell your show on iTunes.
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