Apple claims to have sold 200 million TV episodes to date, including one million sold in HD format since the option became available in September. And in customary fashion, the company is looking to expand on those figures with three primary pursuits: more selection, more selection, and more selection still.
Following a summer season chock-full of game-show and reality programming, this fall Apple is making an effort to provide as many dramas and comedies and the like from as many networks as possible for iTunes shoppers. The company now names ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC as HD-friendly within the pages of its storefront.
Everything from CBS’s long-time hit show “CSI: Miami” and its New York-based variant to FOX’s “Prison Break” to NBC’s “The Office” to ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and “Dirty Sexy Money” is available either at a per-episode price of $2.99 or a season pass running anywhere between $40 and $70. Of course, all shows are available in standard definition, too, for 1/3 less cost per episode.
Ever since Apple introduced the TV option for iTunes consumers, it has had to service increasing demand for increasing amounts of programming titles and studios. And because it has had to contend with the extended removal of NBC programming for much of the last year, its sales have presumably not been as superb as they might have otherwise been. Thus, now that Apple has officially brought the majors on board as both SD- and HD-level participants, consumers are naturally bound to enjoy the comprehensive supply much more so than the gap-ridden experience that came before. Will this boost sales? Very probably.
While it’s not yet certain that HD programming will induce many sales other than the trickle of free, promotional downloads made available on a weekly, if not daily basis, the choice of HD itself is no doubt important to note. On-demand television is still in a stage of relative infancy, so pricing can only be expected to come down as time progresses.
Competition with iTunes will continue to be strong with players like Netflix, but very few distributors - iTunes and Amazon Video on Demand being the most prominent of all - can offer consumers the option to retain episodes and even full seasons of content ahead of their equivalent DVD or Blu-Ray release. This convenience is certainly advantageous to a good number of entertainment seekers who might ordinarily invest in physical media. (It should be said that Netflix’s streaming option will almost definitely have current programming to choose from in the none-too-distant future.)
All told, the iTunes TV store is still very much at a budding stage, and whether it is on the cusp of a boom, it’s difficult to say. But it is clear that Apple and its visual media partners are wasting little time in capitalizing on fresh programming. So it may not be very long before Apple can tout five to ten million HD shows sold. Or, alternatively, one billion TV episodes altogether. Looking at Apple’s release of June figures listing over 5 billion songs sold since the iTunes Store’s inception, that would be a video statistic none too small.
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