NBC bleeding cash after ditching iTunes - Macenstein

NBC bleeding cash after ditching iTunes

Ok, while the fanboy in us wants to blame this solely on NBC’s pulling its shows from iTunes, the reality is that NBC/Universal seems to just not have all that many shows worth watching these days. According to Yahoo News, NBC has missed pretty much all of its advertising goals, forcing it to refund on average about $500,000 per advertiser. Now, we’re not saying if we could buy Battlestar Galactica on iTunes none of this would have happened, but throw in Heroes, and maybe you’re onto something…

To be fair, most networks are being hit a little hard going into the holiday advertising season, but we’ve never been about being fair here at Macenstein, so “Eat it, NBC”. Looks like our Peacock voodoo doll is working after all.

31 Responses to “NBC bleeding cash after ditching iTunes”
  1. “More reality shows” is basically the only thing I need to read to make me turn the TV off. If they keep this up, I might have to contemplate…reading books(God forbid)

  2. Charles Wingerter says:

    All I can say, is that up to this month (when NBC pulled from ITMS) I easily have spent a couple hundred dollars toward NBC content. This is money I’d probably not spent had it not been for ITMS.
    I’ll end up renting the series DVD’s when they hit netflix, or use my TIVO. In both instances NBC gets a whole lot less money than when I buy and download.
    And, no I will not watch ad-supported free content.
    And if the next season of Galactica is good, maybe I’ll buy the DVD when it gets discounted.
    Add the writer’s strike to the mix – and NBC looks pretty weak. Too weak to be making outlandish demands.

  3. Elwood Blues says:

    I pretty much just watched Heroes on my iPod via iTunes last season. Now that its gone, I’m not watching it. Tried watching it on regular TV but just couldn’t get past the commercials. I’m bummed BSG isn’t on there anymore either. FRAK! That I will buy on DVD when it comes out.

  4. Jason says:

    I download all my movies… F*CK the networks! and ESP NBC!

  5. chuckles the clone says:

    I’ve been buying lots of iTunes video content … the “free” episodes they occasionally offer got me hooked, and I now buy several series (I could DVR and convert, but that’s too much work). I’m down to watching ER on NBC, whereas last year I was watching several series and buying season passes to others (such as Heroes, which I didn’t start watching until Spring 07).

    NBC is acting like a big baby. If they didn’t want to raise the prices, they would still be on iTunes. If they are cheaper elsewhere, its just to spite iTunes.

    A solution? NBC should ask Apple to sell its shows for 99¢ or less but leave the commercials in. Apple can keep all the money, NBC can charge more for its ads. Alternately, NBC could give away its shows with ads intact on iTunes, and pay Apple a distribution fee.

    Otherwise, no NBC for this guy. Too much choice out there.

  6. Jacobson says:

    since they pulled the good stuff from iTunes, i just use Bittorrent now.
    iTunes was about convenience, i’d rather pay $2 and download instantly from ITMS than hunt for a decent torrent and wait longer for it to download. But now that i can’t do the former, i do the latter.
    NBC screwed up!

  7. No worries. I’m into books. 🙂

  8. Paul McEnany says:

    Dude, blaming this on itunes is a stretch at best. Their shows aren’t making the ratings needed to to make advertiser guarantees, that’s why they’re having trouble. And there isn’t advertising in itunes downloads, so it has nothing to do with it. Writers strike yes, Itunes no.

    We’re all on team F the networks, though…

  9. You can watch all the popular episodes (and soon the not so popular ones) over at http://openhulu.com.

    Enjoy =)

  10. A Webber says:

    I’m no apple fanboy but nbc lost a high profile place when they bailed on itunes. That’s marketing 101. Now they have all their shows tucked away where? Does anyone know where these other sites are? iTunes is like media central for most people and NBC left that. Doesn’t matter how much they were making on iTunes. What mattered was that they were getting what’s known as “top of mind” presence there. That all matters. It all snowballs. When you remove those kinds of things, you lower your product’s profile and you lose. Like I said, I’m not a fanboy for Apple but you’d have to be braindead to pull your content from iTunes the way NBC did. Utterly idiocy.

  11. alexsterling says:

    Macs are kinda boring.

  12. freesailincapn says:

    You’re kidding right? They sell $2.5 billion in ads annually and you think a few $500k make goods are a problem? You have no idea how this industry works, do you?

  13. Kedyn says:

    What’s with all the NBC hate? This was pretty much the reaction when they pulled their iTunes stock.

    ‘They’ve messed up’, ‘really bad move’.

    Doesn’t the article say their goals were ‘ratings’ based? That’s got nothing to do with their online content (as that has nothing to do with the advertisers which is part of what all the fuss is about with online content), so regardless of their move to pull their shows from iTunes it sounds like they’d have missed their goals.

    Honestly, given the whole reason NBC pulled their content is because Apple wanted a larger cut (doubling the price of a digital download doesn’t equal double the hosting cost) on their already ludicrous charge (Apple charge around 5/6 times above their costs) you think people would be happy a stand is being taken.

    Given NBC offer almost all their major shows online for viewing on their website I really don’t get what there is to complain about.

  14. Iacobus says:

    Or it could be the writers stick… because a lot of TV shows are running out. Such as NBC’s big hit, the Office. These numbers only make sense if you also show/know the numbers for the other networks (I don’t off hand).

    Also, iTunes didn’t have any ad content. Ditching iTunes shouldn’t change anything but increase ad revenues. People who won’t want it on TV and only watch it off iTunes are paying for any ads, losing them and nothing changes. People who watch on iTunes and really like the shows will watch them on TV or DVR them or watch on the internet, ideally streaming from NBC’s site. In which case, NBC’s ad views goes up.

    Also, how does NBC which returns most of it shows for this fall season (sans writer strike) go from prefect (or at least good last year) to bad this year, except that it left the RDF of Jobs? Until those questions are answered, this is clearly fanboy spam.

  15. Iacobus,
    We DID file it under Apple Fanboyism… not trying to claim otherwise.
    -The Doc

  16. Travis D. says:

    Heroes sucked this season, man it was bad, I’m pretty much done watching that show. Too many characters, too many story lines, too many foreign languages, nothing is matching up, they recapped last season 6-8 shows into this season which was confusing. Sylar never dies, they keep adding new heroes, but still milking the same 1 villain over & over. Heroes definitely jumped the shark. I never watched any other NBC or affiliate shows, so guess I’m done with them. I just bought a Touch and will probably mainly add South Park, some History channel shows, and some music videos. NBC = NoBody Cares.

  17. This is just history repeating itself. NBC has always been particularly adept at shooting itself in the foot.

    It’s a cycle that began in the 50’s. They were the #2 banana to CBS. And then they had to sell off their red network which formed ABC.

    They didn’t recapture number 1 until the 80’s which they held fairly well up to the mid 90’s.

    And now it’s come home to roost.

    I find it interesting that CBS puts LOTS of its content up on Joost for free.

  18. Kendall says:

    You’re on to something. I record a lot of stuff from TV, but use iTunes to catch up on shows I miss.

    With NBC clearing out of iTunes, I fell behind and just stopped watching Heros and Bionic Woman. The only remaining show I watch is Chuck, and that’s because it’s really produced by someone else and still on iTunes.

    I was also about to complete the season of Dresden Files and Eureka from iTunes – I didn’t realize that like BSG, these were really NBC titles and would be yanked. So that’s even more money that NBC could have had and will never see from me.

    The simple fact is that having stuff on iTunes lets you explore pilots of shows you might think were interesting later, or to catch up on stuff you miss – and without that easy ability to catch up on either end of a series, you loose interest and just drop the show. Even Heros!

  19. Kendall says:

    As for viewing shows on the website – great unless you are about to head out on a long flight and want a few shows for the airport and the plane. I’ve used it once but didn’t like it, it’s not a real replacement for being able to download video and watch it when and where I want. Sometimes, I catch up on a half a season or more of shows in a weekend which is also impossible using the website as it only lets you watch shows that are pretty recent. The whole idea of internet video is that I control when I watch a show, even a window of a few weeks is way too rigid and is loosing viewers.

    I’m not really mad at NBC over this as I can live just fine without TV. But I will say the choices they have made are absolutely insane thinking about them only in a business sense. If people want to give you money for a show, and things are all set to let them keep doing that – don’t axe the golden goose and then pee on the remains.

    And, it was NBC that wanted to charge more (along with offer variable pricing for a season, which offsets that but only if you buy a whole season of every show you like – bad for people who use iTunes to catch up as I do).

  20. Spuds says:

    I can’t say I feel sorry for them.

  21. Underlord says:

    hey… I just got rid of Direct TV and decided that buying seasons on DVD, ripping them, and watching them whenever I actually feel like it is the way to go. I just ordered ReBoot and just in case I get the urge for bad TV, I see that Salvage 1 is available! LOL

    Pay per episode or season downloadable TV for Mac, Linux & PC is the only solution I will accept. if NBC Doesn’t want my money they don’t have to get it.

  22. Anon says:

    I have a friend who worked at Oxygen, who was recently bought by NBC (because all their shows are reality?) He said they really cleaned house of the staff, and they did so by calling people at random times of the day and firing them on the spot. NBC is a little out of control these days.

  23. oliviamck says:

    The original article on Yahoo! is actually talking about the TV network and has nothing to do with the iTunes deal or its online offerings. Seems to me that this blog completely missed the point.

  24. ZaneH says:

    This article has NOTHING to do with iTunes or sales of downloaded video. It has to do with TV advertising. The industry has been hard hit mainly due to the new rules (which the Advertisers lobbied for). There is no mention in the article about any financial loss related to sale of video downloads, thus making Dr. Macenstein’s post completely baseless.

  25. Kendall says:

    Yes but viewership loss can, I think, in part be attributed to leaving iTunes – without the ability to catch up with series after they start, there are fewer and fewer viewers later in the season compared to what they might have. As I said I personally started off the season watching Bionic Woman and heros, but I fell behind and couldn’t get them on iTunes – so I stopped watching them at all, on broadcast.

    It’s not the only reason but it has to be having an effect.

  26. Hindsight says:

    Advertisers don’t make money when you buy from iTunes, so even had NBC sold on iTunes it wouldn’t have changed the figures for advertising goals.

    I enjoyed many shows on NBC this season a great deal, and my taste is impeccable if I do say so. Chuck, Bionic Woman, Life (my fav), Heroes, The Office, ER.. but I rarely watch the shows when aired. I just wanted to stress, its not lack of content on NBC.

    Rather, the loss in advertising revenue is due to changes in the consumption behavior of the product. People can now filter out the ads. I watched the majority of these shows on NBC’s own website. I doubt the little 28 second web ads (which I just muted) account for me not watching the 3 minutes of commercials in the same spaces during broadcast.

  27. Rowlings says:

    Hindsight, no the loss in revenue is actually due to NBC not meeting guarantied ratings goals. NBC can’t guarantee that people will buy products based on ads, only that people will see them.

    So, the idea that their shows aren’t bringing in the viewers is valid.

  28. Kendall says:

    Hindsight, you’re lacking your namesake. Lack of iTunes participation lowers viewership for series overall INCLUDING broadcast – I would watch broadcast sometimes, iTunes other when I forgot to record or watch. Without iTunes as a backup I lost track of series and stopped watching by any means.

    What they also lost was more intangible, I stopped telling people to look at NBC series because I knew they couldn’t see them on iTunes. So they lost viewership that way as well that may have come in on iTunes and stayed on broadcast (which I have done the past with shows I really liked).

    This loss of broadcast viewership in turn means loss of revenue to advertisers. This is an ecosystem here, one they had poised to really grow in a big way but that now they have put the lid on – to disastrous results as we see by the forced payment to advertisers. That folks is the canary in the coal mine as to how the whole programming ecosystem is doing at NBC, broadcast AND online.

  29. NDT says:

    Could it be that on top of the shows not being so good, people are turning off their sets (or watching elsewhere) due to the Writer’s Strike? Leno, Conan, The Office, My Name is Earl, Scrubs, 30 Rock, etc, are all heading into reruns instead of the usual fresh content we get this time of the year…

    I don’t know, but I have a feeling the iTunes issue a very tenuous connection since the downloaded shows have literally nothing to do with the advertisers on NBC.

  30. mr. eposter says:

    Peacock, bloody peacock.

  31. I recall NBC citing their iTunes numbers were “insignificant”. I think that the viewing experience is changing overall and that’s why it was so hard for NBC to measure it. For example, I tend to watch only snippets of a show, let’s say The Daily Show – I’d watch the intros and then skip to the end if Stewart has an interesting guest. So you see how the numbers can get skewed.

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