The dispute between Apple and NBC Universal over the pricing of videos on iTunes grew more heated yesterday as Apple announced that it would not add any new episodes of NBC television shows to the online store’s inventory.
Among the fall shows NBC Universal will not be able to market through iTunes, effective immediately, are “Bionic Woman,” a high-profile and expensive modernization of the 1976 original, and “Chuck,” a drama about a computer geek who unwittingly acquires government secrets.
One point of contention is whether new episodes of returning shows, including popular ones like “The Office” and “Heroes,” are affected. Apple says they are; NBC Universal says Apple is contractually obligated to sell new episodes of returning shows.
Private negotiations between the companies over pricing became public Thursday when NBC Universal told Apple that it would not renew its iTunes contract, which expires in December. Among other things, NBC is unhappy that Apple will not relax its policy of pricing downloads of television shows at a flat $1.99. NBC Universal wants to be able to charge more for popular episodes, or, in the case of special promotions, to charge less.
Yesterday, Apple swatted back, characterizing NBC Universal’s move as greedy and an attack on consumer interests. Apple said the sharp increases NBC Universal is seeking in the wholesale price for certain content would drive retail prices to $4.99 an episode.
“We are disappointed to see NBC leave iTunes because we would not agree to their dramatic price increase,” Eddy Cue, the Apple vice president who oversees iTunes, said in a statement. “We hope they will change their minds and offer their TV shows to the tens of millions of iTunes customers.”
Bad move guys.