NBC Universal & Apple iTunes Part Ways, Joins Amazon Unbox
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If you’ve been enjoying watching episodes of The Office, 30 Rock, or Heroes on your iPod then it’s time to go ahead and let that little joy go in your life. NBC Universal has announced it won’t be renewing its contract with Apple following ongoing disagreements over pricing and piracy controls (DRM). The New York Times reports this falling out could really hit Apple in the wallet:

The media conglomerate — which is the No. 1 supplier of digital video to Apple’s online store, accounting for about 40 percent of downloads — notified Apple of its decision late yesterday, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked for anonymity because negotiations between the companies are confidential.

A spokesman for NBC Universal, part of General Electric, confirmed the decision, but otherwise declined to comment. A spokesmen for Apple declined to comment. The decision by NBC Universal highlights the escalating tension between Apple and media companies, which are unhappy that Apple will not give them more control over the pricing of songs and videos that are sold on iTunes.

Update: In between the time I wrote this post and it published another update came down the pipe. NBC Universal has gone ahead and completely severed the Apple agreement while joining forces with Amazon’s Unbox. According to The New York Times:

The media conglomerate, part of General Electric, said yesterday that Amazon had agreed to give it something that Apple would not: greater flexibility in the pricing and packaging of video downloads. As a result, NBC Universal said it had agreed to sell a wide variety of television programming on Amazon’s fledgling Unbox download service, including the drama “Heroes” and the comedies “The Office” and “30 Rock.” Episodes will be available on Unbox the day after they are shown.

There’s still a lot of work to be done with Amazon’s Unbox though if they want it to be successful. Unbox has been available since September 2006 and it’s not really something that I hear mentioned or used. We’ll have to see what this does for the service.

Written by: Matt
Posted on: Wednesday, September 5, 2007

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