NBC shows on Amazon for $1.89. Was Apple lying? - Macenstein

NBC shows on Amazon for $1.89. Was Apple lying?

Above: Where’s the rampant price gouging we thought NBC was insisting on?

Remember back during the whole NBC/Universal pulling out of iTunes debacle a few months back, Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes, made this famous quote?

“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.”

Well, here we are over 7 months later, and NBC still seems to be selling its shows to Amazon for the same $1.99 each we last saw them listed for on iTunes, and as low as $1.89 each if you become a member of Amazon’s Unbox TV Pass program.

So what’s the story here? Was Apple telling the truth? NBC doesn’t seem to be strong-arming Amazon into higher priced bundle deals as Apple claimed (and NBC denied). Granted, this news is not much help to Mac users, as Amazon’s Unbox service is still not yet Mac compatible, but certainly the current pricing scheme here does lend a bit more credibility to NBC’s side of the story (which we admit we immediately dismissed as blatant lies in our rush to blindly defend Apple).

Thanks to faithful Macenstein reader Anderson for stirring up trouble.

7 Responses to “NBC shows on Amazon for $1.89. Was Apple lying?”
  1. Rowlings says:

    I don’t know if they were lying or not, but the whole thing seemed weird. I hope it gets resolved soon. Hopefully amazon’s pricing is a sign that NBC is agreeable to $1.99 episodes.

  2. Anderson says:

    I’d be just as happy if Amazon somehow got a Mac version of Unbox rolling. I don’t need iTunes for video viewing, it would be nice, but content ultimately decides which service I use, quite frankly.

  3. Dee says:

    Personally, I ordered and expected to receive via download a movie from Amazon for my Tivo and it never came down, even though I registered the Tivo per instructions. It was a “free” movie though, so maybe Amazon decided it was not worth it. That really turned me off to Unbox. I think it is a work in progress. Maybe not ready for prine time. I love my Tivo though.

  4. InfinitiMoon says:

    I think this neither supports nor discredits Apple’s claims. You must look at the bigger issue here for the content producers. It’s about control. The television industry is afraid of iTunes becoming the 800-pound gorilla of online video as it has for online music distribution.

    Remember, for eternity, the networks have dictated their own pay schedules, who gets what, and how much. It is in their best interest to have as many different companies competing to distribute their property as possible. That way, the balance of power swings in the favor of the content producers.

    If only one distribution method is realistically available, then that distributor has a lot of say in how much things cost, what they will release, etc. If there are a dozen channels to pipe content through, then the producers of said content have more power. They want to turn the online industry into a mirror of the current distribution method, cable TV. The only difference being that they’re willing, for the time being, to go from a subscription model, like cable TV, to a rental or purchase model.

    This is not really any different from the major recording studios allowing Amazon to sell $0.99 DRM-free songs on their service but, so far, declining to allow iTunes to do the same. They’re trying to break up what in their eyes is a monopoly on Apple’s part for content distribution.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the movie studios pull something like this themselves in the near future now that AppleTV is getting movies.

    So who’s not telling the truth? I’m still not entirely sure. I’m guessing the truth is somewhere in between, and we will likely never know the whole story or motivation behind the events leading to the Apple-NBC divorce.

    Both companies are in the business of making money. Apple has, unfortunately, often blinded their fanbase to this fact. Thus, most people took NBC to be the bad guy, but no one really knows.

  5. Ian says:

    I suspect Apple were complaining that NBC wanted too large a share of the profits, but to avoid appearng greedy, Apple said the reasons was the price NBC wanted to charge.

  6. Adam Nash says:

    There is really no evidence to suggest that studios, like NBC, are giving Apple and Amazon the same terms. They want to break Apple’s stranglehold on the digital content market, and giving a competitor with insignificant sales a temporary price advantage is a path to doing it.

    Why do you think Amazon has music from all the major studios without DRM, but only EMI provides this to Apple? It’s because they are trying to use Amazon to break Apple’s control in the market.

    If the market had a number of digital content sellers, then the power would shift away from distributors (like Apple) to content producers.


  7. Jonro says:

    I suspect that Amazon is giving NBC a bigger cut of the pie. Let’s say that Apple gives NBC $.25 (WAG) and Amazon gives them $.50. Apple claims that to give NBC $.50, they have to raise their price to $3.00 so they can maintain their margins. So, who’s lying? No one and everyone. NBC has an inflated view of what their TV shows are worth. Old episodes that I’ve already seen are worth, for the most part, nearly nothing to me.

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