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Would You Buy TV Shows for $0.99?

by Travis Harvey | March 22, 2010March 22, 2010 3:09 am PDT

Only weeks away from launch, Apple is reportedly still working to close content deals in anticipation of the iPad’s success.  A few months back there were whispers of a possible TV subscription model that Apple wanted to bring to the then-rumored iPad.  This all-you-can-eat subscription costing around $30 would allow users to consume content to their heart’s desire so long as the companies agreed to the deal.  As Apple was seemingly unable to close such a deal, they’re still working hard to push TV networks down to $.99 per episode.

There are a number of reasons Apple hasn’t seen TV purchases take off as impressively as music. In most cases, iTunes music is priced at a consistent $.99 price-point with the exception of some more popular new releases that have adopted the higher $1.29 target and the less popular sinking to a low $.69.  Most television shows in the iTunes Store carry a slightly higher price tag, coming in at $1.99 per episode.  Two bucks for each episode adds up awfully fast when you think of how many episodes there are per season.  Shows like Lost, which is in it’s 6th season scheduled to run a whopping 121 episodes would cost nearly double that amount through iTunes.

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In most cases, consumers are already paying through a cable subscription that essentially has access to all the same television shows – it’s simply a matter of scheduling.  Asking consumers to fork over the extra cash to access doesn’t seem to have gone over too well, as Apple’s TV show sales remain lackluster at best.  Of course an iTunes TV subscription would compete with cable providers in much the same way but there’s something more appealing about an all-you-can-eat option.  Often times, consumers don’t want to own the shows themselves but want to be able to watch them whenever they find best.

Most plausible, – as many companies have seen with Google – it’s difficult to compete with free.  Most of the content that we pay for through cable subscriptions and TV on DVD is available anytime on the network’s website.  Sure you have to sit through a few ads here and there but it’s free and it’s there independent of your schedule.  Even more, Hulu has an insanely large TV catalog that’ll most likely satisfy you’re television addiction.  When Hulu’s free to watch, few find it compelling to pay roughly $2.00.

So if Apple succeeds in dropping the standard TV show to a mere $.99, is that enough to change your mind?  While most of you will answer “no” there’s got to be a few who’ll pony up, right?  No?  Ugh.  Let us know otherwise.


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