It appears that Apple might be putting together a TV subscription package for iTunes. If true, let’s hope they do this the right way.
For $30 per month it would appear that you would get access to whole networks’ output rather than individual shows. All Things Digital suggests that Apple has been touting the idea to a number of TV networks but that none have yet come on board.
It’s understandable that networks may be cautious of the deal. While iTunes already offers subscriptions to individual seasons of shows, TV executives will be wary of the dominant position Apple has in the digital music business. The last thing they will want is Apple muscling in too far on yet another market.
That said, online TV is already developing into a big business without a large Apple presence. Hulu and YouTube have shown that there’s a market for monetised online consumption, albeit via advertising. Giving Apple a little bit more of the pie may have huge benefits for an industry desperate to make up for falling advertising revenue through harnessing unmet online demand.
Let’s do this properly – internationally
There’s no doubt that if Apple does expand its iTunes TV offering it will be a success, at least to some degree. However, it’s almost certain that any package deals on show subscriptions will be region-locked. Someone in eastern Europe is unlikely to be able to subscribe to a package of all the big new US TV shows, for example.
In the long term that’s what’s needed or the long, crooked hand of piracy will wipe out any significant demand for these shows when they do escape the States. There are all sorts of rights issues to consider of course, but in this age of internet spoilers for hot new shows global launches are in the customers’ best interests.
The TV industry needs to remember that it’s those customers, not rightsholders that ultimately need to be satisfied.