September 8, 2007

Now How Much Would You Pay?

Stay tuned to the NBC downloads recently announced to be offered by Amazon's Unbox Service. The gist is this: NBC left iTunes over a disagreement about pricing. Episodes on iTunes go for a couple of bucks each. Apple says NBC wants 5 bucks per episode, but NBC says not quite, but rather, they want "flexibility in … pricing."

Why this is interesting is that it asks a fundamental question about the future of television: At what price convenience? And, who's convenience?

What is it worth to get a file of your favorite show? —a file you can then watch in a variety of ways, times, and places.

If you would download an episode of Heroes for 2 bucks each, would you download it for $5.? … $4.? … $3. … ?

Keep an eye on pricing, because the current episode price of TV at Unbox is also 2 bucks. According to Variety, Apple's idea is that if it were even cheaper — $1! — NBC would make up the difference in volume. And maybe cheapskates like me could watch two shows, without getting screwed over by my cable company. (oh wait, they're the ones selling me internet, too?!)

NBC is naturally affronted at the thought of giving the work of it's writers, actors, directors, lighting guys, etc for a measly dollar, but they are the 4th place network. But they also have The Office and Heroes, favorites among the downloading demographic. You know, those kids who also know full well what BitTorrent is.

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