NBC Universal, owners of NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Networks, SciFi Channel and so much more has made a milestone decision; to push Apple towards increasing the cost of TV episodes sold on Apple's iTunes Store. Currently a TV episode costs $1.99; according to news reports the cost would have gone up to $4.99, a $3.00 increase. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that NBC's suggested pricing is beyond stupid. While I am more than willing to plop down $2 to watch a missed TV episode that my DVR didn't record or that I might just be interested in seeing; $5 is just too high. I expected to see TV prices eventually drop a little as the service became more popular, especially when one realizes they aren't HD nor do they have 5.1 sound.
Apparently though NBC didn't see it that way. I guess since they made up about 30% of the content on iTunes they could dictate terms. Apple apparently wasn't willing to listen. Not only have they ended negotiations, but even though their contract with NBC goes until December 31st, 2007 Apple has decided that they will not make any of the 2007 NBC series available on iTunes. Their decision seems like a smart one from their point of view. If they offer the 2007 shows, mid season they would have to pull them all. That would create confusion and some very bad blood for Apple.
I have to say that the entertainment industry just doesn't get it. While they seem to see digital content as a means to increase their bottom line by simply increasing cost; the general public is smart enough to figure out that the distribution model for digital content is much cheaper and far more efficient. While some might think it is cheap, those who understand the demands of video, know that a great deal of storage space and bandwidth is required; but these commodities are far less expensive than stores on main-street in every town in America.
The entire industry is simply mad with craziness as they attempt to not only slow the digital wave, but bottle it up in individual countries. iTunes UK is just now getting TV content after two years, but they have been able to get the content on the internet for longer than that. It isn't easy, and is thwart with personal electronic danger (viruses, trojans and bad compression) but people who want to watch the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica and don't have access to the SciFi Channel are going to get their hands on the episodes one way or another; long before the DVDs or in-country broadcast distribution rights are established.
The digital world can't be bottled up and decision like the one made by NBC Universal, are simply idiotic. There is no other word to describe their decision. It hurts them, it hurts Apple and it hurts the very people they want to sell digital content too. Tell, WHO IN THE WORLD THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA!