Apple plays hardball, pulls NBC shows ASAP

After NBC's decision not to renew its iTunes contract, Apple pulls the plug on the network's shows effective almost immediately.

Published August 31, 2007 7:17PM (EDT)

Apple just put out a press release saying that it will stop carrying NBC's TV shows on iTunes effective the upcoming TV season -- the season that starts in September, which begins ... tomorrow! Apple had declined to comment in the round of stories earlier today noting NBC Universal's decision not to renew its iTunes contract. Now the company dishes what happened in the negotiations -- NBC wanted to increase the wholesale price of its TV shows by "more than double."

Such an increase "would have resulted in the retail price to consumers increasing to $4.99 per episode from the current $1.99," Apple says. Eddy Cue, Apple's V.P. of iTunes, says in the statement: "We are disappointed to see NBC leave iTunes because we would not agree to their dramatic price increase. We hope they will change their minds and offer their TV shows to the tens of millions of iTunes customers."

This is hardball. NBC seemed to want to ride out its tactic till the current contract expired at end of the year, but Apple's calling its bluff. Apple says that NBC shows account for 30 percent of TV show sales on iTunes -- not a small amount of cash for NBC.

Now, as several readers note, people will have to go the free, file-sharing route for NBC's shows, while other networks' shows will still show up on iTunes. Apple notes: "ABC, CBS, FOX and The CW, along with more than 50 cable networks, are signed up to sell TV shows from their upcoming season on iTunes at $1.99 per episode." NBC's all alone.

iTunes Store To Stop Selling NBC Television Shows [Apple]

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

MORE FROM Farhad Manjoo

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