CBS Will Sell Some Shows On iTunes For 99 Cents
The move is a continuing progression of television content moving online, whether through live streaming, free portals such as Hulu and a la carte pricing.
CBS already has joined in the TV Everywhere initiative, with its core network and several other channels, including The CW and Showtime, working with cable companies to put their content online free to paid subscribers of cable provider Comcast and others. It also joined in the AT&T Entertainment effort, which allows users to view content from a variety of networks for free - and you don't have to be an AT&T customer to access the site.
The pending agreement with iTunes could come in time for the launch of the iPad, whose 4:3 aspect ratio perfect for standard-def television viewing. Shows in high definition, which are broadcast in a 16:9 aspect ratio would show those pesky black bars across the top of the screen above and below the video. No date has been announced for the iPad's official launch, though Apple's website says they should be available in "late March."
There's no word whether the shows sold through iTunes would also be allowed to carry ads. Networks had been fighting the 99 cent price, saying it was too low, but if they can carry advertising, that may make it more palatable.
To this point, the biggest source of legal online network content so far has been Hulu.com, which allows a certain number of ad breaks varying in length throughout each broadcast. Of course, NBC Universal is one of the major partners in Hulu, and Comcast has made a successful bid for the entertainment giant - though regulators have yet to rule on the legality of that deal.
Count the iTunes 99 cent purchase price as the latest effort by traditional television content providers to figure out how to make money on this here Internet thingy.