NBC Selling Shows Through iTunes

Following ABCs lead, NBC has decided to make available a variety of shows including part of season one and season 16 for Law and Order, Battlestar Galactica, old episodes of Dragnet, etc. It’s good that they are starting to realize that they need to be more flexible than their current, “You watch the TV and the commercials and you get it all free, and if you have a Tivo we’ll try to screw with the show times to mess it up,” way of doing things.
The problems are ones of DRM and pricing. Apple unwisely seems to have settled with the networks on a pricing of $2 for an episode even though most people won’t watch it more than once, it doesn’t come down in a quality suitable for viewing on a TV, and even if it did come down with enough resolution they don’t allow you to burn it to a DVD. So it’s just like buying a song from iTunes, only it’s completely not. Because you should be able to do so much less with video, right?!?
Oh, and when the $2/episode thing doesn’t make them enough money to suit them, as with the Battlestar Galactica mini-series where it would cost you $4 to get started watching the series… OH MY, that’s not priced nearly high enough. It’ll have to be a package deal and we’ll price it at a $16 price we pulled out of thin air. Seem fair? OK, so we’re pricing via perceived value, I see. Then the 20 minute episodes of the comedy The Office are just a buck then. Right. One thin $1? Ha hA! No.
I guess I’ll continue to get my TV via the antenna where the opportunity to re-negotiate the exchange rate for watching exists only in the form of a gradual slide of commercials from 15 minutes/hour 30 years ago to 20 minutes per hour today. Or I’ll check out the DVDs from my local library where they get enough use from the discs that I guess they don’t mind paying the ridiculous disparities in DVD prices (Band of Brothers – on sale at only $6/episode, Lost Season 1 – currently about $1.60/episode, cheaper than downloading and you can watch them on TV too) because a lot of people get to use them.

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