Apple sees $1 TV episodes on iTunes as key to iPad launch; networks so far are wary

Apple wants to launch the iPad at the end of March with a bang, and it's hoping it can convince televison network execs and content owners to drop the price of TV episodes by 50 percent or more to $1 in an effort to make certain the iPad hits with a wealth of content available. So far, the networks are looking at the proposal from Apple like a bug looks at an oncoming windshield: they're worried, and know they had better make a quick decision. So far, only CBS has agreed to float some episodes at 99 cents, but even that's not a commitment for the long term.

The networks worry that dropping the prices could erode their profits and alienate their affiliates, but they also see the iPad--and iTunes' 125 million customers with credit cards--as potential gold mines, much as the music industry has reaped rewards from iTunes 10 billion-plus song sales (since adding video to the store in 2005, only 375 million TV episodes have been sold).

For Apple, making sure more TV episodes--and thus assuring rich content options--available by launch may be a key component of the iPad's early success; at the very least it will add to the device's panache as the next evolution in online video. For the networks, it's an opportunity to jump on a moving train--or fall onto the tracks.

For more:
- see this New York Times report

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