NBC, as promised, removed all its content and that of its affiliates from the iTunes Store after its contract with Apple expired. Meanwhile News Corp was reportedly “actively negotiating” with Apple to put new releases and catalogue titles on iTunes beginning in early 2008 amid speculation Apple will relent on fixed pricing.
NBC has switched some its content on to NBC Direct, an ad-supported download service that runs only on Windows; a Mac version is due next year. Its shows will also be available on hulu.com, a joint venture with News Corp. Both services are still in beta testing.
NBC had been Apple's single largest partner for digital video, with more than 1,500 hours of programming representing either 30 per cent or 40 per cent of iTunes video content, depending which side you believe. Talks to renew the contract reached an impasse last August. NBC wanted to be able to charge more than $1.99 for its most popular shows. Apple insisted on a flat per-show rate and claimed that the network wanted to raise prices to as much as $4.99 per episode.
NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker placed his company's digital strategy last on his list of priorities in a speech at the UBS Global Media & Communications Conference. Repeating that NBCU's deal with Apple was worth “only $15 million” in profit, he added: “it wasn't the game changer for us that it was for Apple.”
Meanwhile, on Hulu he said: “We have 60,000 users, seven major advertisers. The online press wanted to kill it, but it's doing well. Advertisers tell us they want a safe environment. That's what this is about. They don't want a cat on a skateboard, but they do want The Simpsons or a film they like. “