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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Saturday, September 01, 2007

But seriously folks...

So I had a little fun yesterday with this whole NBC/Apple thing. The truth is, this is pretty serious, if you'll accept the notion that anything entertainment related can truly be serious. It's serious because this will impact the way that content is digitally delivered to us in the future, and as technophiles, we should be at the forefront of this discussion. Here's what I really think about this topic...

First, we have to take all of the public statements that Apple and NBC have said at face value. Yes, both companies are clearly jockeying for position here. But let's assume everything they say, on both sides, is true.

NBC is wrong. When it comes to music downloads, I provisionally back the notion of tiered pricing, largely because I'm an old guy and much of what I want to buy is of the back catalog nature, and would thus be lowered priced as a result. (I wouldn't care if the new Brittney Spears single is $1.99 instead of $.99, or whatever. As far as I'm concerned, that's not music anyway and I'm not interested.) My particular wants and needs aside, however, tiered pricing can be used to screw the consumer, obviously, and in the case of TV shows, the prices can get quite high. And if Apple is correct is saying that NBC wanted to price new TV show episodes--single TV show episodes--at $4.99 a whack. I mean, my God. That's utterly ridiculous. I look at the $1.99 price now as a bit exorbitant, frankly, since you can get these shows in better quality, and for free, on TV. I mean, I have a Media Center PC. I can skip the commercials already. iTunes is not exactly a bargain, sorry, and I won't typically watch most TV shows, no matter how good, more than once. (Meanwhile, I listen to a lot of music repeatedly, and those files are just 99 cents each.)

As for tiered pricing, I think older TV shows should cost less than $1.99, and you should get a more substantial discount than is currently available when you purchase an entire season or subscribe to a current season. It's unclear to me why NBC needs to make a lot of money on something like "The A Team" right now. But you know what? I might grab season one out of nostalgia alone if the cost was more reasonable. Perhaps the answer to the tiered pricing question is that new content should always be priced at the current rate, but that older content could be priced lower to move it in higher quantities. (Perhaps content could become lower priced over time, based on when it was added to the store. You wait, you save.) There needs to be a compromise on tiered pricing, in other words, but not one that screws the consumer.

Both companies are being a bit self-serving here. Coming out in public as they both did in such dramatic fashion suggests that they're both willing to go to the brink. Not surprisingly, talks between NBC and Apple are ongoing. So they're using this as a PR and negotiating tool. Apple, as always, seeks to look like the champion of the little guy. I have to say, while I shudder at such a notion in general, in this case it seems believable. Here, it does appear that Apple represents the consumer's best interests. Thus, I am rooting for them to win.

Put simply, I like that TV shows are available via the iTunes Store, and I've certainly purchased a number of shows that I missed for whatever reason on TV. (It's mostly a backup plan, however. I would never personally subscribe to a new TV show season via iTunes,) This is just another way for networks, in this case, to make money from customers, and it's unclear why they don't see it that way. In this case, NBC is wrong and Apple is right. How any company could be as bald facedly anti-consumer as NBC appears to be right now is beyond me.

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[ Posted at 8:54 AM | Permalink ]


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