Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dollars and Sense

"$5 an episode?" asks screenwriter Alex Epstein on his blog. That's what NBC wanted to charge for their TV shows in the iTunes store, which Apple refused to do, preferring to stick with their current $2-per-episode price.

(Not to say I told you so, but I talked about this distribution method in my 2001 "Pay for TV" post. It's really only a matter of time before blind broadcasting--i.e., spewing content into the ether without knowing if anyone's actually watching--is a thing of the past.)

I'd love to pick a side here, but both Apple and NBC are being pretty boneheaded. I'm guessing NBC is already trying to figure out how to build their own online video store, but even if they do, it will suck. On the other hand, Apple needs to think about broadening its pricing horizons.

$5 an episode is too much, but Alex makes some good points about how consumers would be willing to pay a little more for the newest shows, and would be more willing to buy reruns if they were a little cheaper. You wouldn't sell stale bread at the same price as a fresh loaf; treat content the same way.

Look. If your show is any good at all, you're going to make money. We want to watch TV. We'll even pay for it. But don't get greedy! Push the price up too far, or make it too annoying to deal with your idiotic DRM crap, and people will just flock to BitTorrent.

UPDATE 2007-09-05: NBC is going with Amazon Unbox. No word yet on exactly what their packaging/pricing scheme will be, but hopefully Amazon can talk some sense into the peacock.
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