NBC Will Not Renew iTunes Contract

The New York Times is reporting that NBC will not renew its contract to provide content to Apple’s iTunes service. A spokesperson from NBC confirmed the decision after an anonymous source leaked it to the Times but did not comment on why NBC was dropping iTunes.

From the NYT:

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.

NBC Universal is also seeking better piracy controls and wants Apple to allow it to bundle videos to increase revenue, the person familiar with the matter said.

You’ll have until December to access NBC Universal’s video catalog—which includes popular downloads such as “Battlestar Galactica,” “Heroes” and “The Office.”

Negotiations between the two companies continue, so Apple and NBC could still reach a deal before the current contract expires.

NBC Will Not Renew ITunes Contract [NYT] (Thanks, Molly!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. jacques says:

    Love how companies still subscribe to the “I’m taking my toys and going home” plan, even when it screws them out of income.

  2. Qtip1423 says:

    The deal’s already off. Check here:


  3. rmz says:

    Man, The Office was the one thing that I used the iTunes store for.

  4. Canadian Impostor says:

    More DRM? How?

    You can’t do anything with iTunes videos except play them on a computer, AppleTV, iPod or iPhone.

    You can’t burn them to a DVD and watch them on your TV, you can’t convert them to run on your PSP, how much more DRM does NBC want?

  5. dantsea says:

    Fine by me. I’ve been playing nice by getting my fix of Eureka and BSG from iTunes, but I’ll be more than happy to go back to downloading from free from my friendly neighborhood Bittorrent resource. Thanks, NBC!

  6. Slusy says:

    Apple says they wanted $5/episode, too. [ilounge.com]

    $5/episode + super-DRM for something I can get for free as long as I set my Tivo ahead of time. Why buy the milk when you can get the milk for free?

  7. appleface says:

    @jacques: This is one of the outcomes of contract negotiations. If more companies walk away from apple and itunes then apple will be forced to reassess their policies and make changes or lose money.

  8. shertzerj says:

    Meg, I thought you guys were only supposed to have a half day today. Go home! :)

  9. gundark says:

    That statement is intellectually dishonest. First, Apple declined to allow NBC to raise the price per episode to $4.99. NBC also wanted more DRM and Apple said no.

    Apple is looking out for us, not NBC

  10. mrjimbo19 says:

    Looks like apple pulled the plug early on this whole thing, good for them.


  11. Craig says:

    As MrJimbo19 points out, Apple has summarily yanked the rug out from under NBC’s posturing by refusing to offer shows from the new season (since NBC’s contract runs out in the middle of the season). Good for them indeed. If there’s corporate justice in the world NBC will fail miserably in other efforts to sell their shows and be forced to either give them away for free or come crawling back to Apple and make a deal that’s worse than their current one.

  12. gibsonic says:

    @shertzerj: maybe she’s on west coast time…or had a hangover this AM…or maybe that’s just me…wait…what are we talking about again.

    NBC as the same letters included in MSNBC. Microsoft is a bed fellow of NBC, lest we forget. Not that hard to see how Apple makes it 3’s a crowd. Time to send the mistress packing NBC. Seems as if she was so loyal as a mistress anyway.

  13. gibsonic says:

    …wasn’t so loyal…

  14. Red_Eye says:

    Bye Bye NBC I can see you’re destined to the dead zone that was formerly occupied by such greats as G4.

    I am a PC fanboy but thank Goodness for Apple and them standing up to thsese idiots. Could you imagine any tv show being so friggin important as to pay $5/episode? Not me. Heck I wont pay for a whole NIGHT of adult programming for $5. Let alone some NBC programs.

    Its time the network realized the days of huge profits are gone. In an era when anyone can produce and distribute video content their days of making hundreds of dollars per viewer are numbered.

  15. First off, other way to get your message across to the people who matter:

    Call Joe Libonati, NBC Universal Television Group Publicity @


    And Amy Zelvin, NBC Universal Digital Media Communications @


    Now, let me get this straight:

    I am a mobile professional. I don’t watch TV at home, but I enjoy

    staying up-to-date on my favorite shows by using iTunes in

    whatever hotel/airport lounge/etc. I happen to be in between


    I watch shows on my iPod when my MacBook Pro isn’t


    According to NBC, I’m not the kind of customer they want. Reasonably well

    off, well connected, and quality-minded. They’d prefer for me to

    wait six months and uy a DVD set I’m never home to watch, or

    watch the shows, riddled with ads, for “free” on their web site (I

    guess I’ll have to bring a book for those 4-5x monthly

    transcontinental flights, where there is no Internet).

    What morons the executives at NBC must be.

    I cannot and will not use a Microsoft DRM-based solution –

    they’ve switched strategies several times over the past three

    years, while the first track I ever bought from iTunes still works.

    I won’t resort to piracy either, but face it; I have no interest (and

    usually no time) to sit in a hotel room or my house and watch

    programming, nor do I want to mash everything up on my tivo –

    iTunes was a perfect solution – no commercials, easily

    obtainable, watch anytime, anywhere – and NBC just shut it off

    because they’re greedy. Forget about the customer…

  16. There’s rumbling affot that this might be in order for NBC to boost their upcoming “Hulu” service.

    Yeah. That’ll work. Just like it did for Sony, MTV, Microsoft, Real, and all the other folks who thought iTunes was doing it all wrong.

    Greedy corporate suits who don’t have anything better to do…they’re afraid of giving Apple too much power, lest Apple become a big media player – well, they already are. Live with it.

    I can’t believe NBC would have us pay $5.00 an episode for downloadable content when they’re already selling DVD sets (six months after the season ends) for $3.00 less than a current iTunes season pass costs. Maybe they should raise the cost of the DVD sets to $120.00, and see how many they sell then.

  17. dvddesign says:


    The iTunes Store itself is not much more than a device to sell iPods. Apple has publicly stated that they don’t make large profits off of the store to begin with, on both music and video sales. It’s an additional revenue stream to Apple, and frankly, I don’t blame them for dumping NBC. If you don’t want to piggyback off the success of Apple these last 6 years since the introduction of the original iPod, get off the damn train, NBC, no one wants you here.

    I’m getting a DVR installed in 2 weeks in my apt, and you guys ain’t getting any extra revenue from me. I’ll rip the shows on my iMac via elGato and convert ’em over commercial free. Thanks!

  18. SybilDisobedience says:


    I work nights, and without DVR, iTunes is the way I keep up with what’s happening on The Office.

    I guess it’s time to stop being a tightwad and get a DVR.

  19. Buran says:

    They’ll claim that when people start downloading more (due to not being able to legally buy the shows they want to see from the iTunes store) it’s due to piracy.

    But really, it’s the result of their own failure to realize that they gave people what they wanted at the price people wanted to pay, and got business. They don’t realize that people WILL NOT tolerate ripoff practices.

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    I guess NBC was disappointed with Apple’s DRM since it actually allowed customers to view the damned things.

    Bet their implementation of DRM is even suckier, if it manages to function at all? Good luck with that, guys. I’m sure consumers will RUSH to that option!

    So instead, they cede the market to bittorrent and video converters, which is a much better revenue source for NBC. Brilliant.

  21. Youthier says:

    @dantc: @trai_dep: Seriously. I could easily find “The Office” and “Friday Night Lights” for free on the internet but I choose to pay for the downloads on iTunes as a way of showing my support for those shows and NBC, not because I had some huge moral obligation or because I had no other way of accessing them.

    Thanks, douches.

  22. Chi says:

    Over at Anandtech, they just released Apple’s side of the conflict.

    According to this, NBC/Universal wanted to raise the prices of shows from $1.99 to $4.99 per episode. That’s a huge jump!

    Additionally, since December would be the middle of the season for the fall shows, Apple is going to cut off NBC/Universal before the new shows can even start in September!!

  23. spinachdip says:

    @SybilDisobedience: As I said on another Gawker Media site on another subject, I’m thinking of a word that sounds like “shit current”.

    I’m all for supporting artists and obtaining intellectual property legally. But if content owners are so out of touch with consumers’ needs, I can’t feel too bad.

  24. That sound you just heard is the door slamming on an NBC digital distribution executive’s ass.

    The next sound you’ll hear will be NBC coming back to the table with Apple.

    Oh – and check out Hulu.com. They weren’t even smart enough to make the site look like something original – they ripped of the iTunes music store look, right down to the font.

  25. mandarin says:

    Cant covert them to PSP?
    PSP video conversion is easy. Just use psp 9


    Not sure if theres a mac version though.

  26. RTFMate says:

    So we are supposed to pay $110 per season for a convenience of watching them in a non DVD format.

    I’ll pass. I’ll just borrow them until I can buy a more cost effective version. Had to do this with SG-1 because Canada got the entire season several months before the states.

  27. To Apple: Thanks for not taking any shit from those swine.

    To NBC: Because of the drop in viewership, you bastards better not cancel “The Office.” I’ll Schrute-slap your face.

  28. spinachdip says:

    @davelawrence8: I don’t know why execs don’t realize that even if online viewing was a money loser, they still benefit.

    Given the choice, viewers still choose to watch shows when they’re scheduled with ads intact, so they’re not losing any Nielsen-eligible viewers to the internet.

    Because my schedule is so irregular, I don’t think I could/would follow any show if I didn’t have the option of affordable/free internet viewing. I imagine there are many others like me.

    When they screw consumers with DRM and higher prices, they’re screwing themselves.

  29. jeff303 says:

    Wonder what this means for “House” (produced by NBC but aired on Fox)

  30. Smashville says:

    @jeff303: Last article I read said there was no confirmation of the Universal stuff…

  31. trillium says:

    Does NBC’s solution even work on a Mac?

  32. icruise says:

    These companies have to realize that pulling stuff like this is only going to make people much more reluctant to buy their stuff. If I can’t be sure that they’re going to be around for future seasons, I’m going to think twice about getting involved in a show.

    In any case, paying $1.99 for a DRMed TV show is a borderline proposition. $4.99 is highway robbery! I can’t believe that they would think that was a reasonable amount.

  33. $5 for a single episode of TV? For just 22 minutes of OFFICE? Ha. No way. *fires up BitT0rrent*

  34. nursetim says:

    And media companies wonder why there is so much “piracy” on the internet.

  35. badgeman46 says:

    People! Its called rabbit ears! You can watch stuff absolutely free! Thats right, a full season of 30 rock FREE. And guess what? If you tape the show on a VCR, its not only FREE, but NBC can’t magically make your season dissapear! But even if they did, it was FREE!

  36. appleface says:

    @gundark: intellectually dishonest? How so? “First, Apple declined to allow NBC to raise the price per episode to $4.99. NBC also wanted more DRM and Apple said no.

    Apple is looking out for us, not NBC” Do you really believe Apple is looking out for you or anyone else? I feel sad for you if you do. Apple is looking out for Apple. The way they do that is to keep their customers. If the pricing on itunes gets too high and more DRM is added the content, then people will look elsewhere. If that happens people may be less likely to turn to Apple for future electronics purchases. This is all about the bottom line for Apple. Keep customers happy, they come back and spend money. Piss customers off, they go elsewhere to spend money.

  37. Ncisfan says:

    In 10-15 years I can seriously see NBC ceasing to exist. for so many reasons. First beacuse the execs at NBCU are just pussies , secondly since 2004 the shows on NBC suck (only shows worth watching are Scrubs and sometimes Law and Order & Heroes) they must have hired some people from UPN or something.
    third for anyone whose checked the Nelson ratings you know that most NBC shows have ratings positions that range from 49-101 (thats not good). And did I mention the Execs at NBCU are Asswipes. All this spells trouble for NBC

  38. MalcoveMagnesia says:

    I’m too lazy to check: is CBS or ABC (Disney, new owners of Pixar) content available via iTunes?

  39. Sachlichkeit says:

    Well, I guess I’ll have to illegally download The Office and Battlestar Galactica on Bittorrent.

    Thanks, NBC!

  40. du2vye says:

    Good for Apple to dump them. Apple dumped the major labels in favor of independents and that certainly didn’t hurt sales as much as the labels wanted it too. Sorta the blew the lid off the “represent 90% of musicians” myth.

    I’d like to see more independent stuff that isn’t tied to major networks. There’s gotta be more out there.

    p.s. there’s tons of converting software for itunes. Apple does ‘soft drm’ to make the corporate folks play nicer (unlike microsoft).

  41. spinachdip says:

    @Ncisfan: Actually, their Thursday night lineup is probably the best it’s been since, I don’t know, when Seinfeld was on and Friends was actually watchable.

    @MalcoveMagnesia: All the major networks are on iTunes, as well as a bunch of cable channels.

    @du2vye: I find it amusing that iTunes Store has been around for 4-5 years, but Apple hasn’t bothered to block the burn-and-rip DRM workaround, when they’ve been so quick to react to other hacks. It’s obvious they’re not a huge fan of DRM.

  42. ELC says:

    It was ALL NBC’s fault – the media moguls trying to completely control everything in the new digital age:


    Apple today announced that it will not be selling NBC television shows for the upcoming television season on its online iTunes Store. The move follows NBC’s decision to not renew its agreement with iTunes after Apple declined to pay more than double the wholesale price for each NBC TV episode, which would have resulted in the retail price to consumers increasing to $4.99 per episode from the current $1.99. ABC, CBS, FOX and The CW, along with more than 50 cable networks, are signed up to sell TV shows from their upcoming season on iTunes at $1.99 per episode.



  43. SloppyChris says:

    Newsflash to the rationalizers out there: if each episode cost $150 to buy legally, downloading it without consent is still piracy. When you create something valuable, the law says you have the right to control how it’s used. Just because we might think that choice isn’t fair doesn’t give us any moral right to steal it.

  44. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    The law also does not obligate you to buy the something valuable if you deem it not valuable. And then free-market economics will take care of the rest.

  45. spinachdip says:

    @SloppyChris: Legality and ethics of piracy aside (a big thing to put aside, I concede), can you at least agree that NBC is only screwing itself?

    I mean, even if they lost money on the online audience, it’ll help their Nielsen numbers and ultimately the ad revenue, where the real money is. And the success of the iTunes Store is pretty strong evidence that consumers are willing to pay for reasonably priced, easy to download digital media. The people who decide $5 is too much will either stop watching online altogether, becoming less likely to follow the shows on TV, or go back to Bit Torrent. Either way, NBC loses.

  46. No, NBC, I do not want an invite to your beta iTunes knock-off just to pay $5 an episode.

    Who do they expect to pay $5 an episode? Who?!?!