1st September 2007

Another Dissatisfied NBC Customer

NBCIt looks like the “Peacock Network” is behaving more like the “Dodo Network”. Maybe NBC now stands for Not Being Clever?

The news outlets are abuzz with reports of the rift between NBC and Apple, which boils down to their disagreement over the pricing of NBC’s content on the iTunes Video Store. NBC wants to raise its per-episode pricing by more than double the current price and add variable pricing for its shows, and Apple wants to keep the same flat pricing structure per show across the board.

Now granted, I’m a died-in-the-wool Apple/Mac fan, but even setting aside my bias, this is simply a case of being smart (Apple) versus being stupid (NBC). The best argument made so far is this brilliant post by Jeremy Horowitz at the venerable iLounge titled An Open Letter To NBC: Leaving Apple’s iTunes Store. Jeremy perfectly articulates my own opinion, as well as that of several other iTunes customers I know.

If you don’t want to take the time to read Jeremy’s post (and really you should – it’s quite good), then I’ll summarize: He not-so-gently reminds NBC that without iTunes they will not likely have an outlet for selling episodes of TV shows that the public can watch and [legally] record for free.

According to this post at MacWorld.com, NBC is building a new platform for watching shows on its own Web site for free, with paid advertising.

I’d like to think that Apple’s position is one of benevolence – they are simply looking out for the best interest of their iTunes customers in not letting a media giant run rampant over the reasonable prices we’re used to paying. And actually, I do believe that this may be part of Apple’s stance, albeit a small part. But it’s more likely that it has to do with economics – it you set a price for a product at a reasonable level, many people will buy your product. If you set the price too high, few people, if any, will buy it. Given that the product in question can be obtained for free, $1.99 for an episode that you may have missed, or just want to watch on your laptop, iPod, or iPhone is reasonable. $4.99 is not.

So here’ my message to NBC: The only reason I would pay for your content is so that I can watch something interesting on my laptop and/or iPhone while I’m traveling. Period. I’m a busy person with little time to watch network television as shows are aired, so it’s highly unlikely that I will watch your Network at all. I will NOT go online to watch your content with its “paid advertising”. So if you’re not selling your content through iTunes, I won’t be buying anything from you. There is plenty of other, equally interesting, content already available through iTunes. Other Networks – who are clever enough to remain aligned with Apple and iTunes – will get my hard-earned money instead of you.

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