Time Warner: Cheap Apple iTunes rentals jeopardize hit shows
Broadcasting giant Time Warner has joined a chorus of disapproval over Apple’s decision to offer 99-cent TV rentals through the iTunes Store.
Speaking at the Royal Television Conference in London this week, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said: “How can you justify renting your first-run TV shows individually for 99 cents an episode and thereby jeopardize the sale of the same shows as a series to branded networks that pay hundreds of millions of dollars and make those shows available to loyal viewers for free?”
“These new entrants must meet a few criteria: They must provide consumers with a superior TV experience, and they must either support or improve the overall economics that funds and creates the programming in the first place.”
The comments follow similar negative responses to Apple’s price point from Warner Bros. Chief Executive Barry Meyer and departing NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker.
“We just don’t think the value proposition is a good one for us,” Meyer told analyst Jessica Reif last month, insisting he’d rather license whole seasons of shows rather than “open up a rental business in television at a low price.”
Meanwhile, Jeff Zucker told a Goldman Sachs investor conference: “We do not think 99 cents is the right price point for our content. We thought it would devalue our content.” Zucker added NBC shows are already available for $1.99.
The $99 Apple TV, introduced at the start of September and shipping this week, lets customers rent favorite TV shows—including sitcoms, dramas, and reality series—commercial free and in HD. News Corp.’s Fox, Disney’ss ABC, ABC Family and Disney Channel, and BBC America have signed up to offer cheaper TV rentals in partnership with Apple.