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"So tell me.. which stage of grieving is this?"
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September 03 2007

Mark Sheppard's Bionic Woman Not Available on iTunes. Or any NBC show next season for that matter, due to an ongoing dispute between Apple and NBC. Shows affected include "Heroes", "The Office", "Psych", "30 Rock" and "Battlestar Galactica".

Programming from NBC and cable properties like USA, CNN, Bravo and CNBC will be cut off from iTunes at the start of the season on Sept. 24.

This was the only way I was keeping up to date with BSG, as I (and many, many other people) was perfectly willing to spend $1.99 per episode to watch it legally, which makes the final line of that story deeply ironic and frankly rather dimwitted: "NBC Universal also wants iTunes to stiffen anti-piracy provisions so computer users would not have easy access to illegal downloads."

(Note to NBC: The vast, vast, vast majority of people who are watching pirated downloads of your programming are NOT watching cracked versions of the iTunes downloads.)
Fabulous. I don't get SciFi so iTunes was my source for BSG. As many dire problems as I had with it, I still preferred it to the obvious alternatives. Congratulations, corporate geniuses, you have driven me most reluctantly to a life of crime.

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2007-09-03 07:12 ]
Same here. I was using iTunes to keep up with 30 Rock and BSG. In fact, they are the only 2 shows that I download because we don't get it on Free-to-air here in Australia. Dumb move, NBC.
Your post wasn't up when I posted mine, b!x. You can get a witness. They think iTunes is a major source of piracy? Those crappy-ass compressions? Their cluelessness must be bottled at a special source way up in some magical mountains.
Where the Unicorn roam and River's made of chocolate ;).

As theonetruebix says, most shows available for illegal download are TV rips so NBC are either being stupid or have some other motive (price driving maybe ?). I don't use iTunes anyway both because I think it's an appallingly bad, intrusive, user unfriendly piece of software and because I go out of my way to NOT support DRM at every opportunity (no matter how easily or early it's cracked) but it's a shame for those that do.
Yeah, me too. I agree with what everyone here is saying: this decision by NBC/U is likely to result in *more* illegal downloads. I'm in the same boat -- I'm unwilling to pay $30/month for cable just to watch one show (I don't watch much TV, save for a few select programs), so iTunes was my only avenue for legal BSG. (I don't mean to imply that I will download illegally, but I may very well stop shoving money NBC's way).

I think it's ultimately NBC's loss here, but I also think overall the situation is temporary. There's so much traffic in digital delivery of programming *unrelated* to the ancient advertiser/broadcaster model, that sooner or later there will certainly be legal and affordable sources for downloading pretty much any programming that exists. Somebody, somewhere will get it through the skulls of network/studio bigwigs that the old way of delivering programming (and paying for it through commercials) is dying.

It's frustrating for the short term, though. (But perhaps not as frustrating as the rumor that BSG's finale won't even air until 2009!)
An articel I read, stressed more the question of fixed pricing given by apple, then the piracy aspect. For me this sound much more likely. NBC simply wan't to have the chance to make a quality production top seller's more expensive then some standard comedy. Guess, I get thier point.
I am having a real hard time believing that NBC won't make these shows available through another retailer. I applaud their efforts since I don't want Apple to have a monopoly on this revenue stream.
I really dont know if this is a good thing or not. I know that I wouldn't want to pay four dollars just for one episode. That is just ridiculous. But now noone can legally buy it. That is just not a good idea.
If you are in the US, you can watch some of the NBC shows on their official website. They are not downloadable, but they are watchable. That is how I caught up on Heroes. ESPN had the same thing for The Bronx is Burning. I don't know how much you can access from other countries.

Paying $4 per episode seems a bit much. It really would push people to waiting for the DVD's. Could that be the point?
Where the Unicorn roam and River's made of chocolate ;).
As theonetruebix says, most shows available for illegal download are TV rips so NBC are either being stupid or have some other motive (price driving maybe ?). I don't use iTunes anyway both because I think it's an appallingly bad, intrusive, user unfriendly piece of software and because I go out of my way to NOT support DRM at every opportunity (no matter how easily or early it's cracked) but it's a shame for those that do.


Or in the land where fairy tales are real...
Anyway, I thought I was the only anti-itunes guy out there. I'm very pro apple stuff, but I just can't deal with iTunes.
And I also take every opportunity that I can to NOT support DRM.

If you are in the US, you can watch some of the NBC shows on their official website. They are not downloadable, but they are watchable. That is how I caught up on Heroes. ESPN had the same thing for The Bronx is Burning. I don't know how much you can access from other countries.
Paying $4 per episode seems a bit much. It really would push people to waiting for the DVD's. Could that be the point?


$4 PER EPISODE? That does sound excessive.
I never tried those streaming videos from nbc.com, cause they don't work for people overseas (which might even be turnable, as there might be a backdoor if someone worked hard looking for it), the downloadable aspects might also be questionable, as there are softwares, that can do rips from streaming video.

Anyway, this quarrel, does put in question, how profitable on demand online material can really be?
Just another quarrel about who gets to keep most of our money. It would really be kind of silly to pick a side- at the moment Apple's position is more favorable to the viewer, but that could change in a flash, depending on what's in it for them.

I don't think NBC is as clueless as they sound re illegal downloads; it's probably negotiator and PR posturing, no? They just need something justifying to say in the situation, and it is not necessary, from their point of view, to give their actual reasons for anything. Maybe their push to raise prices does have something to do with wanting to encourage buying dvds.

I don't like iTunes either. I'm not very computer smart, and always have found the other Apple stuff very user friendly.. thought I was just finding iTunes awkward because I am. Awkward.
I find it amazing that people would pay $2 for the crappy quality as it is (most DVD's would be cheaper pr episode with much better quality) but they want $5 now? The greedy industry needs a reality check.
NBC/Fox is setting up its own web store (hulu.com). The raising of the prices of certain shows was a ploy to make the iTunes experience more confusing, thus (in the minds of NBC) sending customers to hulu.
Hulu's fees:
from the "FEES AND PAYMENTS" section:

Hulu reserves the right at any time to charge fees for access to portions of the Site or the Site as a whole. However, in no event will you be charged for access to the Site unless we obtain your prior agreement to pay such charges. Thus, if at any time the Site requires a fee for portions of the Site that are now free, the Site will give you advance notice of such fees and the opportunity to cancel the account before such charges are imposed.

I can see it now; wait for a section of the site to get popular, then charge to access it. Not only will you pay for the shows, but you will pay for access to the shows (subscription).

[ edited by proximityeffect on 2007-09-03 14:44 ]
I am having a real hard time believing that NBC won't make these shows available through another retailer. I applaud their efforts since I don't want Apple to have a monopoly on this revenue stream.

As always, I think Tamara hits the nail on the head here. NBC are throwing their toys of the pram, with some reason, and will likely go after rival services like Hulu where they can get more control (and revenue).

That said, ALL the other legal services I know of don't work on a Mac. So if I want to continue to watch these shows on my iPod, I'm going to have to download copies illegally, and not pay anybody. Additionally, even I used Windows, none of the other services offer videos for iPods. The iPod market is 60 million plus units and counting, so NBC are effectively throwing out a huge chunk of their revenue on gambling with other services.

Of the people who watch The Office on their iPods, Joss is one of them I think. So one of the people directing an upcoming episode won't be able to watch it on their iPod because of this. Which is funny.

As a consumer, for me, this sucks. (And if anybody is wondering how I get the US iTunes store from the UK -- perfectly legally. Just buy US iTunes gift certificates and redeem them on the US store).

Back to BitTorrent for me.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-09-03 14:59 ]
The American television industry is a living embodiment of the "golden goose" fable, even moreso tragic because it never learns and keeps killing the goose anytime one pops up and conflicts with their by this point far too antiquated business model.
NBC announced two days ago that the problem is with apple and not with them, and that per their contract they were going to force (?) apple to put their new eps of their shows up until the end of the contract, which i think ends in December.

I have no doubt that they will make a deal before the end of their contract, in that NBC was 30% of their itunes TV revenue.
I just wish NBC would release an entire season for BSG at a time instead of doing that half-season shit and jacking up the prices.
I have not watched any BSG yet. I put it on my Netflix que, but after hearing that they may delay the ending, I am wondering now if I should just wait until it finishes to watch it.
That said, ALL the other legal services I know of don't work on a Mac. So if I want to continue to watch these shows on my iPod, I'm going to have to download copies illegally, and not pay anybody. Additionally, even I used Windows, none of the other services offer videos for iPods. The iPod market is 60 million plus units and counting, so NBC are effectively throwing out a huge chunk of their revenue on gambling with other services.

Of the people who watch The Office on their iPods, Joss is one of them I think. So one of the people directing an upcoming episode won't be able to watch it on their iPod because of this. Which is funny.

Back to BitTorrent for me.


Exactly what I've been thinking! With one exception, the only I-Tunes shows I've downloaded were NBC-owned shows.

Oh well. I guess I get to keep my money now.
OK, I've had a full night's sleep since I last posted. But I'm still angry. I'm starting to think that Serenity is wrong, and the actual origin of Reavers is entertainment corporation policy. Aside from the possibility of double charging (good catch proximityeffect), I have a hard time believing that Fox and NBC are going to produce a viable alternative to the lamentable iTunes, which I stuck with through many hours of bitter grief. It's a pirate's life for me.

Ho. Ho.
Why all the iTunes hate? I admit I'm a relatively recent Apple convert, but I've never once had a problem with iTunes or found it in any way too intrusive. *scratching head confusedly*

Anyway, I'm sure there's more going on beneath the surface and behind the curtains than us mere mortals can understand, but on the surface this seems like one of the dumbest moves NBC could make. Personally I like iTunes (and my variuos iPods and iPhone) enough that I really can't get behind the wave "i-Killer" efforts everyone is so obsessed with making these days. I'll do whatever I can to NOT support NBC in any way if this all really goes down.
Haunt, I think that Apple hardware and software users, along with some PC people who got lucky with their downloads, had a much easier time with iTunes than some...less lucky people. But I care not. I sail the high seas.
Well unfortunately I've yet to actually upgrade to a Mac, so I'm still running off my sad little Dell laptop... with no problems. Guess I'm one of those lucky PC guys so far. *shrug*

But regardless, I've always had a soft spot for pirates. (Despite being married to an intellectual properties attorney.)

[ edited by Haunt on 2007-09-03 18:07 ]
This does seem a little ridiculous. I rarely watch shows online unless the series in question are being shown here in the UK a long while after their US airing. Then I'll watch them on here simply to avoid being spoiled. The only shows with any real US/UK delay that I watch at the moment are Supernatural and Dexter, so those two will get viewed online first. Not from iTunes, however, as they aren't available on that service. In fact iTunes has only just started offering a TV show service here in the UK very recently and it is currently quite limited in what it offers.

The very large majority of episodes I have watched of any show online have been ripped directly from television airings and had nothing whatsoever to do with iTunes. The few episodes of BSG I missed on telly and had to catch up with on the net were straight from the Sci-Fi Channel. Seems to me like NBC may well be using this as an excuse because they can't seriously believe that removing their shows from iTunes will stop them getting online.
Kaine, if you see above, you can register a US iTunes account via iTunes (scroll to the bottom of the page in iTunes for the country selector). For address, use Apple's corporate address (on apple.com). Then you can buy US iTunes vouchers here a discount rate, and click 'Redeem' in iTunes to redeem the balance to your account. Bingo, you can get anything on iTunes.

I don't think there's any mega iTunes hate here, Haunt. Being the vendor who's owning the market at the minute I can see why companies hate Apple, however they are dominating the market in my opinion because they're so good compared to the competition.
Thanks, gossi, but as I said, I watch very few of the shows I like online and those that I do see on here will more than likely get watched again once they finally reach our television screens. Probably on channels I pay extra for. Plus, the fact that I'll likely end up buying all of them on DVD sooner or later too means that I'm not going to worry too much about catching a freebie online, now and again. ;)
Well, I think it is early to be condemning NBC for trying to get more of the value chain on their product. If they are trying to cut out the middleman then that ends up being better for the consumer in the end. I think a little patience and a little less jumping to conclusions might be called for here.
TamaraC, the middleman (Apple) makes almost no profit on iTunes selections, so in this case cutting out the middleman will do nothing for the consumer. The NBC/Universal/Microsoft solution will almost certainly lead to increased aggrevation and/or prices.

One person's take on NBC's response

I dropped cable when they moved the only two channels I wanted (Sci-Fi and Cartoon) to a higher priced package, bloated with stuff I didn't want. I did buy BSG season 3 on iTunes when I got too impatient to wait for it to show up on NetFlix. Guess I'll just have to wait longer to find out how the story goes. (Or maybe just give up on BSG, rewatch the Angel DVD sets again...)
Why all the iTunes hate? I admit I'm a relatively recent Apple convert, but I've never once had a problem with iTunes or found it in any way too intrusive. *scratching head confusedly*

Well, I don't like having to tell software that I don't want updates. If I wanted updates i'd update it ;). And I don't find it particularly user friendly, it isn't arranged in a sensible way IMO but everyone likes different stuff (and I have an iPod which is wonderfully designed, even if I don't really use it much anymore cos it's kind of heavy and flash memory has come down in price so much you can - and I did ;) - pick up a perfectly adequate 1 GB MP3 player for about 15 quid). And I absolutely resent being told where and on what hardware I can use files i've paid for so i'll never support DRM.

When it comes to "just usable" stuff though Apple give anyone a run for their money, Jobs and his engineers have really brought technology into the mainstream, made it "cool" in ways it just wasn't before which I reckon is highly laudable.
I would also agree with Tamara (sorry, I'm a broken record lately) on the waiting to see thing. We haven't heard NBC's full story. I used to work for a UK cable company, and they'd outright lie about contract negoiations with the likes of Sky (and still are) to try to wrangle down contracts to their terms. I'd be surprised if we're getting the full story from either Apple or NBC. I also think they'll make an agreement closer to the time.
Yeah, I think I tend more to the "price driving" than "stupid" side of the fence. It seems likely it's just a negotiating tactic and the consumer may well benefit in the end (albeit by accident as is basically the rule with corporations. Still, a win's a win ;).

Big companies generally don't make press releases out of the goodness of their hearts or because they're keen to keep the general public informed.
OneTev, Apple may not have high margins on content, but they only sell content so that they can drive sales of their hardware. That is where all the money is. Apple is doing its damndest to create a monopoly on portable digital content and hardware. I say anything anyone can do to stop them (or at least slow them the hell down) will benefit the customer in the end.

One also has to wonder if NBC is trying to see how many eyeballs will actually show up during normal airings of their shows if iTunes is not an option. They do have shows that have extremely high Tivo rates. I think it is a valid experiment for the short term and I am sure that the shows mentioned above will be available digitally in some fashion.

This all smacks of corporate finger pointing for negotiation leverage. I'm not buying any of it.
Perhaps NBC Universal is doing this because Universal music is partnering with Google to form gBox. A DRM free online music store to rival iTunes. NBC shows might be available for purchase exclusively through gBox later on.
Thinnest excuse for a Whedonesque link ever?

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