And Media Companies Wonder Why Folks Download Content Illegally

Last week, it was announced that NBC would stop selling their television programs via iTunes after December, when their current contract runs up. Their reasons included dissatisfaction over not having more control over pricing (currently, episodes are $1.99 each), concerns of DRM and piracy, and bundling.

There’s a word to describe this, and it’s “idiotic.”

This is a textbook example of a big media company finding something that works — as others have pointed out, iTunes has been instrumental in the success of NBC programs such as “The Office” (now one of the network’s most popular programs) — and deciding to get greedy and screw it up for their customers.

NBC wanted to increase the per episode price from $1.99 to $4.99. That’s right — they wanted to charge five dollars for episodes of The Office. Actually, they wanted the ability to offer a range of pricing, but do you really think NBC wouldn’t try to profit more from its biggest titles, such as The Office or Heroes?

It’s worth noting that the other 50+ networks signed up with iTunes will continue to offer their shows for $1.99/episode.

Like I said, idiotic. It’s all a matter of simple arithmetic, really. You can currently watch The Office or Heroes, or any of the other shows that NBC offers, for free. Or you can buy the DVD sets when they come out, which in the case of Heroes, which currently costs $39.99 (plus shipping) on Amazon, would work out to roughly $1.74/episode. But if NBC had their way, you would have to pay three times that amount for a single episode.

I have no illusions about Apple being this charitable, altruistic organization. They’re a business, and they’re out to make money, just like everyone else. And I know that other companies and studios chafed under Apple’s heavy-handed pricing structure. But here’s one case where I have nothing but appreciation for Apple basically telling NBC to not let the door hit them in the ass on the way out.

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