NBC's 2 cents? iTunes 99-cent TV episode rental model not a good deal for network

Add NBC's CEO Jeff Zucker to what inevitably will be a growing list of media execs who see Apple's 99-cent TV episode rental play as an unattractive option for the industry.

Speaking at a Goldman Sachs investor conference, Zucker took the company line in declaring that renting episodes of the network's shows on iTunes for 99 cents isn't the "right price point." The network currently has episodes available on iTunes for download at $1.99 each.

Last week, Warner Bros. CEO Barry Meyer told an investor conference essentially the same thing: "We just don't think the value proposition is a good one for us," adding that the company didn't like the idea of opening up "a rental business in television at a low price."

At least two of his counterparts, however, think the idea has enough merit to at least prompt them to dip their corporate toes into the water. ABC and News Corp.'s Fox networks both agreed to make episodes available for the 99-cent price when Apple announced a revamped Apple TV with iTunes support earlier this month. News Corp. has approached the content deal on a short-term basis, describing it as a test.

Apple also has approached CBS, but no deal has been announced. CBS CEO Les Moonves has been cool to making the network's content available online in the past, saying in May that an online model like Hulu isn't yet in the cards for the company. "The problem is, I'm only getting pennies online. If too many people shift to online, I'm not going to be able to produce CSI," which, he said, costs $3 million to produce each episode.

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