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NBC leaving iTunes, hitching to Amazon's wagon

Picture 1.png  For the past few weeks, stories have been circulating about NBC pulling out of iTunes. There were claims that NBC wanted to price their shows higher and take a much bigger cut. Their deal was set to expire this December, but they gave notice last week that it would end early.

Everyone's been speculating on what would happen next -- if NBC would launch its own store or if they'd go with another technology. Looks like the answer is Amazon's Unbox for NBC. They've just announced this Fall's shows will all be at Amazon. Starting September 10th, they'll even be offering free preview downloads of Bionic Woman, a new series set to debut.

Personally, when looking at my iTunes store history on buying TV shows, I pick up quite a number of NBC stuff I didn't get a chance to see live last season. Though I can buy shows through Unbox and watch them on my TiVo (as opposed to my AppleTV), since Amazon released Unbox, I've only watched two movies. The picture quality was fairly low so in the future I could only see myself using Unbox again when there was no other option to get a show.

Logically, it seems like a step back for NBC's distribution levels, if you compared the numbers of every video-playing iPod (tens of millions?) and AppleTV sold, compared with the number of TiVos out there (a couple million standalones?). If I was going to sit at a computer and watch TV, I'd just watch it off NBC's own site, but when it comes to buying video for portable devices or my living room, I'm guessing NBC just reduced their reach. Then again, I'm sure Amazon isn't in the position that iTunes was in bargaining-wise, so NBC probably got the bigger chunk they wanted of the pie.

update: Gruber points out that the DRM on NBC shows just got much more restrictive.

by Matt Haughey September 4, 2007 in News