Apple Seeking Price Cuts on iTunes Television Episodes?


macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Variety reports that Apple has been looking into cutting prices on TV episodes from the current $1.99/episode down to $.99/episode.
According to three people familiar with the proposal, Apple has told networks and studios that it would like to slash the cost of most TV episodes sold via iTunes from the current $1.99 to just 99¢ -- the same as what Apple charges for most music singles.
Apple argues that the studios would end up making more money with an increase in volume of sales, but the studios haven't been convinced. One concern raised is that potential impact these prices would have on DVD sales which have traditionally been an important source of revenue for the studios.
Case in point: NBC Universal just released "Heroes" on DVD, with most retail outlets charging about $40 for the set of 23 episodes. If Apple had its way, the same set of episodes would cost less than $23, potentially making the DVD -- despite its myriad bonus features -- less appealing to consumers.
According to insiders, while skeptical of the plan, the studios have not rejected it outright, and acknowledge that "library titles" of older content may make more sense at the lower price. Historically, however, Apple has been insistent on consistent pricing across the board.

The author of the article speculates that Apple and NBC's recent split may have been in part related to some of these issues.

Article Link


macrumors 6502a
Oct 6, 2005
The bowels of CT
its a nice thought for us consumers. However, they probably won't due to your reasons, or they might, because they still would be making a substantial profit because there is no materials, very little labor, etc involved. I'd have to know the margin of profit on both types of distribution. DVDs, inserts, cases, shipping, overhead, etc don't just appear, Downloads are much easier to manage. I would imagine. Who knows, I'm sure the studios make it more difficult than it really is.

Analog Kid

macrumors 603
Mar 4, 2003
I think they might actually find people buying the iTunes episodes during the season and the DVD later if they price it right. For now, there are shows I won't buy from iTunes because I intend to get the DVDs when they are released, but that forces me to wait much longer than I'd like to.


macrumors newbie
Jul 4, 2007
I love the pricing structure of $.99 per episode. Most TV shows are free over the air anyway. I would download a lot more TV shows if Apple can make this happen.


macrumors regular
Dec 29, 2003
potentially making the DVD -- despite its myriad bonus features -- less appealing to consumers
If you're really into a show - people will want the DVD for exactly that point - the extras that you don't get through iTunes. Why do most of the studios seem so hesitant with stuff like this? I don't see cheaper iTunes shows cannibalizing DVD sales...


macrumors newbie
Sep 6, 2007
i think a price drop is necessary. sure, you would be paying less for a season- which is exactly the way it should be considering you're not purchasing a physical product which involves shipping, stocking, manufacturing, etc. as well as having content at lower quality and DRM restrictions without any bonus features. as it stands right now at $1.99 / episode you're paying MORE for the digital version than the DVD set. how exactly does that make sense?


macrumors 68000
Mar 29, 2003
At $.99 I'd be really tempted to buy TV shows (as soon as they are here). I think the DVD comparison is flawed, as the DVD quality is higher and therefore wouldn't be too much affected by a cheaper alternative.


macrumors 6502
Jan 14, 2005
I think demand would DEFINITELY increase at .99, in fact it would probably more than double, leading to greater profits than before.

1.99 isn't a lot of money, really... but it is NOT the sweet spot for something that people can legally get for free via live broadcast, recorded broadcast, or the network's own web site.

For many people, you're paying 2 bucks for a one time watch. I might listen to a song I buy 1000 times over my lifetime, but chances are once I watch an episode of a TV series I follow, I wouldn't watch it again.

I realize there are people who buy DVDs of the whole series. Maybe there is a whole part of the market that I'm miscalculating.... but how well do these DVD sets sell? Is it a niche market, or something that is totally on fire?


Moderator emeritus
Apr 27, 2005
San Francisco, CA
I still can't see myself purchasing any TV shows from iTunes. ...Basically, many of the TV shows available on iTunes can be watched on any TV with rabbit-ears for free. Then, if I miss a show many networks offer online streaming (ABC offers full episode streaming in HD!).

I realize that iTunes videos can come in handy when away from home, but for me, the only time I have to watch TV is when I'm already at home.


macrumors 6502a
Nov 25, 2005
Denver, CO
I dont have a video iPod and really don't have any intrerest in buying tv shows through iTunes so i am not exactly the person they are aiming it with price cuts and all....however....

If the iTunes version is at a lower resolution, and does not include any of the extra you would get with a DVD set ie director & actor commentary, alternate endings and other such stuff, the true fans will always be wanting to get the DVD set.

For the casual viewer who has no long term desire for buying a DVD set just to have it sit on a bookshelf etc, then $1.99 per episode probably isn't the best price, more than likely they can wait for reruns or read the spoilers online. At 99c an episode I would be expecting a lot more people to download tv shows, or alternately, the current buyers are more likely to pick up more episodes as they are cheaper.

For someone who might be interested in a show, $1 can make a difference in whether or not they jump in and buy an episode. Also, for the buyers are aren't exactly flush with $$$ ie college students, that kind of a discount can be very very appealing. To the point they could not only buy an episode but maybe also pick up a song played during the episode as well.

Personally I would place more value on a song than a tv show as i am more able to listen to a song than i am to watch a show. Also, most people will listen to songs more times than they would watch an tv show.


macrumors 6502
May 25, 2006
Seattle (M$ Country)
99 cents? I would buy multiple seasons at a time. :D

The thing is, and I'm sure others have done this too, I have "MULTI-purchased" on many occasion on iTUNES. I wanted to hear a song at work and I didn't own it so I bought it on iTUNES. Then I was on my home computer, and wanted to hear the same song again, and I didn't have access to it on my home computer, so I bought it again rather than waiting till the next day to copy the tune. After all, it's just 99 cents.

I could see that making them TONS of money. I could also see them selling a lot more crappy re-runs. The munsters? Who is buying the munsters for 1.99 an episode?

Imagine if they let you burn the season for a small fee. That would be cool too.

Imagine what it could potentially do to the cable industry? Buy a season for $15 bucks. I'm sure I could buy all of my favorite shows throughout the year for less than what I have been paying for cable in one month. I would just need to get my local news (antenna). Done...


macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2006
They should get UK prices inline with the US first. The TV episode price in the UK is £1.89 including VAT which works out at $3.23 at todays exchange rate EXCLUDING tax.

A complete rip off. This works out far more expensive than buying DVD's.


macrumors regular
May 3, 2005
yay, and please make it hd, or at least apple tv should upconvert, then im not getting any kind of cable and just buying my shows instead.


macrumors member
Jun 25, 2007
They should get UK prices inline with the US first. The TV episode price in the UK is £1.89 including VAT which works out at $3.23 at todays exchange rate EXCLUDING tax.

A complete rip off. This works out far more expensive than buying DVD's.
I agree - buying TV episodes from iTunes UK is a complete no no at that price.


macrumors 601
Aug 9, 2002
Lately I started buying TV shows on iTunes, but it does seem a bit pricey. If it was 99 cents per episode, or even $1.49 per episode, I think I'd definitely be more inclined to buy shows.

Edit: It's more an issue with some shows than others. For many shows, buying a season on iTunes costs as much as on DVD, and for some it costs even more. Shows on iTunes should always, always cost less than DVDs, as the distributor need not pay for packaging, and iTunes currently sells lower quality video than is found on DVD.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2007
99 cents sounds great to me - the problem is that I'm in the UK and here the prices for the very few shows (so far) are crazy!


macrumors member
Feb 6, 2006
The studios also need to take into account that a low cost video playing ipod is just now coming out. So the number of people looking for video content is gonna skyrocket.


macrumors 6502
Feb 24, 2005
when will the studios realize that these files aren't the same as what they sell on dvd/cd?


macrumors regular
Aug 26, 2007
At $.99 an episode, I'd buy all availible TV shows that I wanted to watch on my computer or (soon to be) iPod Touch and not worry about obtaining them from "other sources" or ripping from DVDs like those from Netflix.

At face value, $1.99 for a 40 minute video seems like more of a deal than $.99 for a 4 minute song, but while you're only likely to watch the video once, if you listen to the song 5 times ever than you've paid the same amount per minute used.

DVDs also have the advantage of:
a) being better quality (and being able to shrink quality easier for more space on ipod touch and iphone.
b) having a physical product to hold on to (many tv shows would be discarded and can't easily (if at all) be reloaded) and the pleasure of buying a physical product (although that comes with the annoyance of the physical medium).
c) Having the option for extras, subtitles, foreign languages, etc.
d) Being better as gifts
e) Working with most people's TVs very easily

Perhaps a pilot program would be a good idea (as long as its advertised), and while it sure makes sense to pay less for old TV shows (although they are harder to download "elsewhere") most people are looking for new shows.

As it is, I'm not having a great time burning lost episodes from netflix, and considering its $35 for 25 Lost episodes, I may try that. If they were $25, however, I would be a non-issue.


macrumors member
Jul 15, 2007
They should get UK prices inline with the US first. The TV episode price in the UK is £1.89 including VAT which works out at $3.23 at todays exchange rate EXCLUDING tax.

A complete rip off. This works out far more expensive than buying DVD's.
Here here! You beat me to it, this was my thought exactly. Think about this, if the price does drop to $.99 thats about 50p, so we would have to pay nearly 3.8 times as much as in the US! RIP OFF!


macrumors 603
Jul 5, 2004
99 cents per episode? Bring it on!

Now, if only TV shows were available for us Canadians... :rolleyes:

At 99 cents per episode, I would gladly exchange my future cable/satellite (which I still haven't got one month after moving, being summer and all) for season passes (at 99 cents/episode) of the shows I watch (and yes that would have included Battlestar Galactica and Heroes).

So, if anyone is reading this and taking decisions :
- bring movies and TV shows to Canada already!
- at 99 cents/episode, you can bet that a lof of people will start exchanging their cable/satellite for the iTunes Store
- bring movies rental at reasonable prices with decent DRM (no "watching X times" insanity, etc)

Imagine being on the road, getting at a Wi-Fi hotspot and getting your TV shows and renting a movie on your iPod touch while on the road for a vacation. :cool:

P.S.: before anyone says "0.99$ CAD is even cheaper", it may not be for much longer... ( ;)
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