To better promote its upcoming iPad, Apple is negotiating with television networks to lower the price of TV shows to $1 per episode.
In fact, a trial run of the lower pricing may already be underway, as the Wall Street Journal reports that episodes of MTV Networks’ “Wonder Showzen”, Viacom’s “Celebrity Paranormal Project” and Warner Bros. Entertainment’s “Children’s Hospital” are available for $1 now. (Side note: don’t watch “Wonder Showzen” if you value your sanity.) Some episodes of television shows are even available for free, the Journal reports.
It’s not clear which networks are involved in the discussion. Previously, the Journal reported that Disney and CBS were in talks with Apple for a subscription plan, in which users could watch whatever they liked from multiple networks for a flat fee. Those discussions have reportedly stalled, though Apple is still looking at subscriptions in addition to its existing pay-per-download model.
A price drop to $1 would be significant, as TV episodes currently sell for $2 in standard-definition and $3 in HD. An entire season can cost up to $50, which is obviously not practical for most consumers. That could explain why networks are somewhat receptive to a price drop, even as the books and music industries secure higher payouts per download.
Apple wants iTunes price cuts to coincide with the launch of its iPad tablet, due out in March. There were few surprises when Apple introduced the iPad last month, and it’s clear the tablet rely heavily on the strength of its content. I doubt that $1 videos would be exclusive to the iPad, but they’d help Apple sell the idea of a large-screen iPod touch.