Our readers, largely people with excellent taste in TV, complained when they realized that buying a “season pass” to download the fifth season of the TV show “Breaking Bad” only entitles them to download the first half of the fifth season. One viewer has taken this a step further, suing Apple.
The show’s final season consists of sixteen episodes, aired in a block of eight in the summer/fall of 2012, and another block of eight in the summer/fall of 2013. Are these episodes the second half of the fifth season, or the sixth season? Are they seasons 5A and 5B? 5 and 5.5? Even AMC, the network that airs the show and presumably had some part in splitting them this way, calls the current season “the final episodes” in promotional spots, avoiding numbers altogether.
Anyway, a nice doctor from Ohio is serving as the plaintiff in a class action for “similarly situated” customers who subscribed to the show through iTunes. The complaint opens with a nice bit of rhetoric, comparing a season of a television program to a live sporting event or an opera.
When a consumer buys a ticket to a football game, he does not have to leave at halftime. When a consumer buys an opera ticket, he does not get kicked out at intermission. When a consumer buys a “Season Pass” to a full season of a television show on iTunes, that consumer should get access to the whole season.
The suit includes helpful visual aids, like screen grabs from AMC’s website indicating that season 5 is a single season:
It also includes e-mails from Apple, and a screen grab of the iTunes page where you can buy the Season Pass That Doesn’t Cover the Whole Season. Like our tipster from almost a month ago, the plaintiff points a finger at Apple, but they’re just the retailer here: other content sellers like Microsoft and Amazon have split out the eight-episode “seasons” in a similar way.
Yes, it’s easy to laugh this suit off as just some guy who just wants his $20 back, but as we consume more media in digital form, the question of what a “season” is will become more important, especially as the traditional TV “season” goes away.
Why Did AMC Split Breaking Bad’s Final Season Into Two? [Bloomberg Businessweek]