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back to article NBC to Apple: 'You're fired!'

The Americanized version of "The Office" will soon disappear from Apple iTunes. The Reg couldn't care less - we prefer the original, and we have no interest in watching even our favorite TV shows on an overpriced, DRM-shackled, handheld status symbol - but many uncultured Apple-loving web mavens are sure to be very upset. Late …

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Hmmm....

I don't like the idea of Apple deciding what the price should be for other people's IP - NBC should be allowed to charge $1000 per episode if it wishes and it should be the market that decides whether that is acceptable. It's not as if Apple can even claim they're doing it to protect consumers because otherwise they would have opened up their content to other devices and players. This is, unsurprisingly, about Apple wanting to make more money and NBC deeming the terms being offered to be unacceptable.

Still, I'm sure there will be plenty of people defending Apple and saying how they're doing it for the good of the consumer. It's about time online media was a fair and open marketplace instead of the monopoly it is.

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Utter bollocks

The american version of The Office is SUPERB!! And i love the UK version, and hate americanising of our shows.

But seriously, if you haven't give it a go, get past the first few episodes and it takes on a life of its own and is the finest comedy since Arrested Development.

As for it being off Itunes.........meh.

Like Homer says "why pay for something you can see on TV for free"

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same old disagreement as Universal Music Group

I don't understand why no one saw this coming. UMG & Apple have been having this same disagreement for months. NBC is part of Universal.

I'm still hopeful they'll work it out -- I'd hate to loose Battlestar Galactica.

Oh -- and you don't get it, that's fine, but bashing iTunes as overpriced misses the point -- I use it INSTEAD of cable and it saves me money -- I subscribe to a handfull of shows that I want to see each season and it costs me less than a cable subscription and I can watch these shows at home on my big-screen TV if I want to, or sitting on an airplane, or a bus, or wherever on my laptop or other portable device. It's more flexible and LESS expensive than cable. What's so hard to understand about that?

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This article

needs more bias.

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I concur

The original is brilliant, the US version is a different animal but a brilliant beast to be sure. Didn't buy on it itunes though.

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@Jonas Taylor

NBC sells episodes to *every other* wholesaler at half the price it was trying to gouge Apple for.

Are you saying Apple should happily accept paying double and having to pass that cost on to their users?

If so, please don't ever set up a business of your own.

Moron.

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This isn't about Apple holding the price line

This is about NBC wanting to start selling their shows directly (and probably at inflated prices). Sadly, there are probably enough stupid wankers who will pay $4.99 an episode for that to work.

I've seen both version of The Office and I have to say that it's easily one of the worst ten TV shows ever released on either side of the Atlantic. Give me Monarch of the Glen, or any season of Dr. Who. The Office appeals to those who never mentally left elementary school.

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Anonymous Coward

Huh?

Can someone explain how doubling the wholesale price could "force" Apple to charge 150% more?

If we assume apple was making just 1 cent per download then NBC would have been making $1.98. If NBC doubled their wholesale price to $3.96, Apple would only need to charge $3.97. If Apple was making anything more than 1 cent the total price would be even less.

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Really....who gives a monkey?

Like Joe K says, and may I paraphrase "Why download something from iTunes when you can Torrent it for free"!

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Math?

How does... "NBC demanded "double the wholesale price"." ...Which is an increase of 100%

Logically lead to... "would have forced Apple to raise its iTunes retail price from $1.99 to $4.99" ...Which is an increase of 150%?

This must be more of that special Apple math

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See it on TV for free, and use (TiVo, Sky+, PVR) to skip the commercials

Why pay?

I have paid $1.99 for some shows to see them before release here in the UK, but at $1.99 per show (about £1), it's a nice convenience.

At $4.99, FORGET IT !!!

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Double?

So a doubling of the wholesale price would "force" Apple to increase their price to 250% of what it was? Where's that extra dollar coming from?

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who did the maths?

NBC demanded "double the wholesale price" for its shows, an increase that would have forced Apple to raise its iTunes retail price from $1.99 to $4.99

Now my maths may not be great, but if the wholesale price was doubled and Apple responded in kind at the retail end, that should only come to $3.98. Where does the extra $ come in? Straight to the church of Jobs.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Update

Actually, Apple claims NBC demanded "more than double the wholesale price."

Cade Metz

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Meh

What a friendly, unbiased first paragraph.

Also - "What Apple didn't say is that NBC is iTunes' top video supplier, responsible for about 40 per cent of all downloads." I'm afraid you're wrong on two counts, because it's 30% and they did say it!

In other news, NBC is part-owned by Universal's parent company, so, surprise surprise. They don't seem to understand that for most people, the alternative to iTunes isn't another store - it's Bittorrent.

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@Schrock

That would be iMath.

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NBC fired itself....

NBC fired itself from iTunes by greedily increasing it's wholesale prices. The inverted headline of your article shows you are as far away from fairly reporting news as Ruppert's Fox ..... :-)

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This is what the donkey is for

Only mules will actually pay to download this stuff.

Seriously: Apple cannot play the distributor because Akamai is. Apple is just a nice shop front and advertising medium but as El Reg has so often pointed out Jobstunes doesn't make money but it keeps their toys in the press releases.

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Anonymous Coward

Is NBC ....

owned by some assuie bloke?

Sounds like the same tactic he used against NTL, the compition starts to get good, just force em out rather then compete.....how is this news?

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Idiots

Just because people are buying a product, doesn't mean that if you raise the price, they still will. With TV shows available on TV and torrent sites easily for free, you'd think they'd be happy people are doing it legally and paying at all in the this day and age. Raising the price would be suicide and I think Apple are right to refuse the price hike. I'm sure the content is available elsewhere through other means. I'm also sure people would rather get them elsewhere than pay a huge price hike like that, it's simply not fair. What other products have you seen in the real world that move up in price instead of down? How would you feel if you went to buy milk tomorrow to find it had jumped almost triple in price with no explaination except that people were paying for it and they were sure you'd pay more?

NBC need to review these kind of ideas.

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Re: ‘Hmmm....’

I agree that NBC should have the right to charge what they want for their product.

On the other hand, asking more than twice as much* for a season's worth of downloaded episodes than they're apparently willing to accept for the same (plus "special features") on physical DVD seems a tad excessive, to me. I'm sure that they would have been ecstatic, mind you, if Apple had caved, as would have all of the other content providers who would have jacked their prices as soon as they could, as well, but I suspect that, in reality, they are less interested in actually raising the price than they are in attempting to maintain the MPAA/RIAA-style monolithic control over all forms of the downstream.

Interestingly, assuming that Apple uses the standard retail rquation of "cost + x% = Price", the price rise probably would have had the iTunes store end up as less of a loss-leader, since their profits per episode downloaded would have gone up, as well.

That's, of course, assuming that they would have had any customers for the shows, when sold at a price that's 250% of what they used to cost.

I'll be looking, off and on at Amazon's page for The Office, and other NBC/Universal programs, to see whether their price for downloaded episodes goes from $1.99 to $4.99 in the next few months or not.

If they DO go up, then we can safely assume that NBC/Universal really WERE only in it for the money; if they don't, then the phrase "punitive pricing" might reasonably start being bandied about regarding their negotiations with Apple.

Cade - Any chance of a follow-up article from the Reg digging into whether/when Amazon's download prices might be expected to jump to NBC/Universal's "must have" price point?

__________

* $4.99 x 24 episodes = $119.76; Amazon's (crossed out) "List" price for Season 2 and 3 DVDs is $49.98. Of course, if you go by their "actual" prices, then NBC's "must-have" price from Apple is 4 - 5 times the DVD price.

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Objectivity in reporting...

"Overpriced, DRM-shackled, handheld status symbol"

Is this the editorial quality we can expect from The Register's technical reporting? Is this what the readership is expected to swallow? That any device - and I'm fully aware of the iPod and other media players, and how they compare, and indeed how DRM relates to the "handheld status symbol" (for the benefit of your contributor, the handheld status symbol is not DRM shackled, the purchased content is).

This is not an Apple fanboi post. This is an objective, technically aware, balanced response. I'd respond the same way if similarly erroneous and biased statements were made about any product.

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How do you do that?

Hey Cade, how can you blow Ballmer and type and at the same time?

Amazing.

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Store

If I have a store, I get to say what I'm willing to charge and to pay for products that are sold in my store. I also get to say what suppliers are OK to deal with and which are a pain in the arse.

Simply keeping things in perspective.

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Anonymous Coward

Turnabout

Apple should accept the price increases, present them on iTunes with the increased prices and the explanation that NBC choose the prices -- and also throw in links to the same media at amazon (making sure that Apple gets the referral credit). See how long NBC likes working under those conditions...

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Anonymous Coward

Turnabout

(and for media that isn't available yet at Amazon -- current season stuff -- still forward them to Amazon to sign up for notification.)

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it's free on tv

Why pay for a show that's free on tv ? tv's are made to watch tv .. or am i missing something ? On top of that .. why would anyone pay to watch American TV garbage ?

Studios are putting out zit but garbage out there .. then they wonder why their sales are down

i mean please .. dont blame the downloaders from the net .. take a good hard at the garbage you guys are putting on the airwaves and on CD and you have the answer. It's junk so noone

feels like junk is anything more than junk from the get go .Who likes to buy junk ?

The "great" studios for making so much worthless junk.

Apple has the right idea .. that studio does nothing but junk .. leave them where they are :

at the dump.Who will remember The office in 20 years ? noone .. Who will remember

Mozart in 20 years .. get it NBC ?

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www.sage.tv + iPodifier + = DRM Free Video for iPOD

FULLY AUTOMATIC caputure, commercial deletion, transcoding, and it sticks it in your iTunes library and best of all, free from DRM and totally legit for personal use under "Fair Use". Well at least here in the USA..

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iTunes is a stodgy mess - how the mighty have fallen

iTunes used to be a sleek and sexy application, but since version 7 the thing is a buggy mess. On Vista, the thing doesn't even paint properly half the time, and the H264 playback of Quicktime is more like a slideshow than a movie. I use iTunes to track podcasts but it's quite crashy and the awful H264 playback means it's almost unusable. The user interface is also slug like, quite possibly because Apple have seen fit to inflict an OS X style interface on it, complete with grids that take an age to scroll through.

I don't blame Vista for any of this since no other multimedia app I have has problems - for example Videolan plays a charm. It's funny how Apple use to claim their stuff "just works". These days it "barely works". Apple sucks.

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FYI

If you hate the American Office so much take it up with Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant. They produce that crap.

<Loved the original though - British 'Festival of Pain' comedy at its best. Almost up there with the paradigm Fawlty Towers>

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Best sentence ever typed on El Reg

"The Reg couldn't care less - we prefer the original, and we have no interest in watching even our favorite TV shows on an overpriced, DRM-shackled, handheld status symbol"

Nicely done, Mr Metz! I find it difficult to agree more!

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Re: How do you do that?

"Hey Cade, how can you blow Ballmer and type and at the same time?"

Wow, you really fucked up that insult, didn't you, FanBoy?

Out of interest, how does being against iTunes make him pro-Microsoft? Especially as last time I checked MS weren't really a force in this arena. (If they are and I haven't heard about it, that illustrates my point neatly.)

Or perhaps, just maybe....you're an idiot?

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Nev
Bronze badge

Dammit...

..."Heroes" was one of the reason I started using iTunes at all (And cancelled my Sky subscription. [2 fingers to Murdoch])

Well, if they want to mess the consumer around like this, I'll just have to download from elsewhere and they'll no get zero from me.

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An Open Email to NBC Universal

www.stonethembas.com

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Totally Bizarre!

I really am confused, on the one hand you (and others) complain that iTunes is overpriced and then continue to complain when Apple refuse to allow vendors to raise the price to an even more insane amount!

It seems to me that when it comes to Apple there are those (including the author of this article) who lose all perspective.

'Supply and Demand' is the principle by which all pricing works, if people stopped buying videos from iTunes due to price then the price would come have to come down.

As long as there is a steady demand then nothing will change and we only have ourselves to blame.

At least you have the choice of buying video off iTunes in the US, here in the UK we don't have the luxury of being ripped off by Apple... We have to settle for bing ripped off by SKY instead.

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Anonymous Coward

This just isn't an article

Wow - I wake up to read the Reg and what happens... I get a tirade of insult: "uncultured Apple-loving web mavens" - WTF! How dare you come on a news site and write this kind of abuse!

I agree that the iTunes video store is not for me, but why be so rude and abusive to those who do enjoy using the service. It's like a silly fan-boy rant and I'm disgusted that The Register would publish such a piece. The actual journalism that there is, is of such low quality even to the point of stating "NBC Universal informed Apple that it would not renew its contract to sell" at the top of the piece and then sites "Universal Music Group, the world's largest record label, recently declined to renew its contract with Apple" as a second "crack" - when it's the SAME COMPANY!

If any Reg staff read these reader posts, I beg you - do yourselves and all us loyal readers of your site a favour and take this silly article down.

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Anonymous Coward

Who gives a left bollock?

Is anyone else completely fed up of the Apple / Universal <insert other money grabbing music / film company here> goings on?

Apple are just as guilty as NBC - they probably baulked at the deal as they would have had not so much profit.

I think its high time everyone just said fuck it, and stop buying off of them until they provide reasonably priced, drm free shows and music without trying to fleece the public continually.

Long live torrents at this rate....

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music company panic

Although this is apple and NBC in the story this does remind me of the net radio station stuff that has been bubbling away.

The music companies are still clinging to the idea that EVERY non-legal viewing is a lost sale, so their "losses to piracy" are making a big hole in their books. SO.. they have to now go all out to claw back this money.

Of course its the actions of a desperate and foolish industry to alienate their customers but if they had a clue they would not be in this mess in the first place.

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Mo

Universal and UMG

Although they share a name (and tactics, apparently), Universal and UMG are two completely different companies.

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*sigh*

Finally Some TV companies had the right idea and decided to combat piracy by offering legal downloads for sale at a cheap price, then they get greedy and what happens, they get yanked from the legal medium to the illegal.

Surely accepting the $1.99 is better than getting nothing when people download it all from torrent sites for nothing... unless they reckon they get more money from the MPAA and RIAA suing people than the legalimate way.

And yes, I'm not a iTunes fanboi, never owned an apple product in my life... however it was all a step in the right direction, cheaper goods legally.

*sigh*

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not 30 or 40% "or ALL downloads"

how misleading is that? the percentage is the percentage of TV SHOW DOWNLOADS. which ends up being 1% of sales?

assuming NBC is gouging apple as much as the rest have been, apple probably makes 2 or 3 cents per sale. Let's say Apple sells 10M tv shows in 6 months. that's, oooh, $30,000 profit in 6 months, or $15,000 a quarter.

if apple sells a billion songs in the next year, that's profit of about $30M at most. divided by 4 is $75M a quarter. nothing to sneeze at, but still in the ballpark of 5% . $15,000 is 0.0002 % profit.

iTunes works well (contrary to the author's pissy statement) because it's simple, its DRM (evil but necessary for the studios) is reasonable for most people, and most of all, it works with the iPod. "Made for iPod" is far more important than almost anything in this context.

Let's see where NBCs videos will run. Zune2? Oh wait, Hulu won't play there.

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Anonymous Coward

Poor Reg

Boy, you and Stick-up-his-ass Orlowski must be in a lather because this whole NBC thing is making Apple look like it's the only one looking out for customers.

and they are. that's their market differentiator

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Sweet

It's keeping the Apple/MS kettle boiling and it's good to watch:-)

But seriously, that was a decent article. The mac fanboys seem oblivious to the vey idea that Apple are playing the game they shout loudest against...

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I don't get it...

Why worship an loathsome company like Apple with your money, WHEN YOU CAN DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE!?!?

Am I a cheapscate? Not really... I just refuse to pay money to NBC or Apple for watching something that I can usually watch for free.

Now a small nominal fee for serverspace etc. I could agree with... Something like 20 or 50 cents.

But paying 2 dollars for the priviledge of being DRMd up my ass by Apple and watching a free TV program? No thanks!

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Actually, Alex -

We do have the dubious pleasure of being able to buy TV content from iTunes in the UK now. Not that I'll pay that much for my shows.

Sadly I think the point on which you're wrong is that "if people stopped buying videos from iTunes due to price then the price would come have to come down". That would involve rational thinking from the content providers. Taking their cue from the music industry, I'd expect to see price increases to screw the few remaining customers out of as much money as possible.

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One sided article.

If I keep seeing one sided pieces like this I will be de-subscribing from the register and getting my news somewhere a bit more neutral - there are many.

I own PCs and Macs and have both Apple and other manufacturers mp3 players and i get sick of these stupid comments from people who dont want to spend a few extra quid for something better built.

-1 star for the register. -1 reader if it keeps up.

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Re: I don't get it

"Why worship an loathsome company like Apple with your money, WHEN YOU CAN DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE!?!?"

Why bother paying for your booze when you can get it for free by robbing the local liquor store??

Or if you mean waiting for it to appear for free on terrestrial TV, the point is you're getting it earlier, in exactly the same way people will pay to get a series like 24 or Alias on DVD before it's broadcast on free TV. Plus the convenience of being able to play it whenever (and wherever) you want it.

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That's funny...

DrXym said:

"iTunes used to be a sleek and sexy application, but since version 7 the thing is a buggy mess. On Vista, the thing doesn't even paint properly half the time, and the H264 playback of Quicktime is more like a slideshow than a movie. I use iTunes to track podcasts but it's quite crashy and the awful H264 playback means it's almost unusable. The user interface is also slug like, quite possibly because Apple have seen fit to inflict an OS X style interface on it, complete with grids that take an age to scroll through."

Funny, I run iTunes on XP in a virtual machine on a Mac and it exhibits NONE of that behavior. It works as expected. And its appearance has a better "fit-n-finish" that almost all Windows apps.

Victor Szulc wrote:

"Why worship an loathsome company like Apple with your money, WHEN YOU CAN DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE!?!?"

You can? Legally? It may not make much difference to some, but NBC is going to lose out by people using Bit Torrent like this guy. And they'll probably end up buying a shiny new iPod to play it on.

Victor, buy a Zune if you don't want to give $$$ to a "loathesome" company. Obviously you think Microsoft ISN'T loathesome, because you've obviously given them money for Vista.

or did you "download [that] for free!?!?" as well?

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Re: Hmmm (@ Jonas Taylor)

Here's what you fail to realize. Before iTunes came along, the music industry was doing quite an excellent job at shooting itself in the foot with very DRM limited, inconveniently priced, garbage services like "PressPlay". Part of the iTunes platform was the 99 cent price point (in the US). The videos opened at a $1.99 (USD) price point. It's the same type of "service" pricing that a company like eMusic uses, where people pay a month subscription for up to 25 downloads per month (or what have you). If the music industry didn't support the platform with its pricing, eMusic would just need to exclude them from the service they offer, right? Same thing with iTunes. Apple has certainly made exceptions here in there on certain products. Believe it or not, companies like Walmart, Target or Trader Joes (here in the states) make decisions like this too. If companies decide to move outside of the "mold" then it clear the match might not be right for their content. Let these companies keep screwing themselves. If something is working, don't break it.

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Few facts of life

El Reg is not a technology journal, it is a technology TABLOID, and in the best traditions of British newspaper journalism, it is rabidly biased in ways that it make perfectly clear - it makes no pretense of objectivity, and has no obligation to be neutral. You don't come to el Reg for objectivity any more thah you go the Daily Mail for a defence of left-wing political thought. I might also add that most of el Reg's baises are deliberately ironic. Especially Apple.

El Reg is not a serious publication and has never pretended to be. More fool you if you were naive enough to beleive that the humour was restricted to particular places.

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