Cheap TV Shows Rumored For iTunes--Could Apple Do To Video What They Did For Audio? - HotHardware
Cheap TV Shows Rumored For iTunes--Could Apple Do To Video What They Did For Audio?

Cheap TV Shows Rumored For iTunes--Could Apple Do To Video What They Did For Audio?

Apple did it once. Can they do it again? Back in 2003, iTunes launched into the world in a big way, and what happened next would change the record industry and the music landscape forever. Before iTunes, people still flocked to stores to buy CDs, and any sort of online portal for accessing music was either illegal or hard to navigate. Steve Jobs somehow managed to convince the record labels to allow $0.99 downloads and cheaper album downloads through iTunes, and now it's the largest seller of music, online or offline, in the world. Talk about a sea change.

If you've been paying attention to the Internet video landscape, you'll see that same time of foreshadowing behavior. Currently, the industry is in somewhat of a pickle. Venues like Hulu are enabling consumers to view hit TV shows online, on their own time, for no charge other than sitting through select advertisements. Most of the major TV networks are now offering all of their hit shows for viewing online, and some are even letting them stream in HD. It's a great deal for the consumer who can't always make time on a given night for a given show, but now content owners are beginning to wonder if they aren't giving away too much for too little.



Things really started to get hairy last March, when NBC Universal executives reportedly told Hulu executives to block Boxee from accessing their content. Boxee is an up-and-coming software overlay that makes it easier to access web-based programming. Underneath, it works just like a browser, opening standard URL links to pull in video. It's just a really elegant way of doing it, but that excuse still wasn't enough for Hulu. Recently, at a hearing in the US Congress, the Hulu and Boxee situation was brought to light, and while nothing was hammered out in terms of a peace agreement, progress was made in the way of "restarting talks."

In reality, the online TV space is very unstable right now. A lot is going on in different ways, and no one really has any handle or control on things. It's sort of a free for all, and while that's sort of at the heart of the Internet revolution, you can't put it past Apple to really take charge and lead a new world of media consumption. According to a flurry of new reports, Apple is indeed "in discussions with television networks to lower the price of downloaded TV shows when the company begins selling its new iPad tablet computer."



If you'll recall, the company's Apple TV was called "a hobby" by Steve Jobs, meaning that it just wasn't as near and dear to his heart as something like the iPhone or iPad. But that doesn't mean that Apple wants the device to sit around with untapped potential. Years after the low-key Apple TV release, we may see its full potential unveiled, and we could see iTunes take it to the next level as the go-to media player for both Windows and Mac users. Reports say that Apple has already been "testing" a $0.99 price point for certain shows on iTunes, and it's hoping to nail down a final deal with content providers before the iPad goes on sale in March. And that makes perfect sense. The iPad is a multimedia lover's dream come true. It's the perfect size for watching shows on the go, and while many people were stumped that the company didn't announce a Hulu deal, you know that Steve Jobs would prefer you to get wrapped up further into the iTunes ecosystem than looking for content elsewhere. Maybe that lack of Flash is just some master plan to funnel users into using iTunes for all of their media desires.

Apple could also be looking to push down prices for popular TV shows and movies, and now that the iPad is nearing release, the company finally has real incentive to work hard to make it happen. The success of the iPad could depend largely on how robust Apple's iTunes store is, and Apple could really make the iPad much more attractive if it could do to video what it already did for music.


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99 cents may be "cheap" when you consider that you could buy a song and listen to over and over for years if not decades (as long as it doesn't have DRM restricting it to a dead platform).

TV episodes, on the other hand, are something you usually watch once. So, I don't see 99 cents as cheap - especially for a product that I can probably already get from my television for free.

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(Technically not free, but "free" in that I already paid for the cable to get some other show)

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You still pay for cable? Whoa, Mr. Deep Pockets!

I doubt if anyone will be casually buying TV shows the same way they casually buy music. Just under a dollar is a great price for someone who either wants to try out a new artist, or just wants that song that's being played incessantly on the radio for free. (And how many people spent a buckskin to hear "Who Let The Dogs Out" over and over? 'Fess up.)

But I believe there's still a market for cheap TV shows because of the convenience factor. If you miss a show you're really into-- your TiVo bombs out, you don't have OnDemand for everything under the sun, Mom forgets to set the VCR-- it's an easy decision. On a portable device, you also get it to travel. I can see iPads being hooked up to SF con hotel room TVs for viewing parties. Yes, theoretically you could jump through a few hoops and get it for free... but you can't underestimate the convenience factor.

What I think will make or break iTV (shades of a lawsuit from the British studio of the same name!) is a massive dose of content straight off the bat, and continued fresh content. Apple has to overwhelm and make itself the center of attention. Fortunately, as history has shown, they have a knack for doing that.

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I could see this as a valid iPad or other Tablet and or Television through internet or PC usage model. On an iPhone I still don't get it really. Why would I want to watch TV on an iPhone type device. I know people watch video on them I just don't get watching something on a display that small other than maybe internet posted streams or something. Now I do watch things like on my PC, and to tell you the truth even with the commercials they are much less invasive than television ones. Either way all Media is going to this model in one way or another as it is, so this seems very valid.

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When is the last time you've ridden on public transit? I see people all the time watching things on various MP3 players, albeit mostly iPod Touches and iPhones.

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