HBO on iTunes

Dennis Faas's picture

HBO has joined the iPod revolution by offering a selection of its television shows on the iTunes store. On Tuesday, the premium cable channel announced it would sell single episodes and whole seasons of mega-hits like the Sopranos and Sex and the City, as well as Deadwood, Flight of the Conchords, Rome and The Wire. (Source:

In a surprise move Apple has agreed to premium pricing for some of HBO's programming. The Sopranos, Deadwood and Rome will cost $2.99 per episode, while the others will be for sale at the regular iTunes price of $1.99. Last year, NBC pulled its television programs off the iTunes Store after Apple refused to negotiate a new pricing structure for the network.

HBO's ability to break Apple's previously firm pricing plan may mean Apple would be open to renegotiating a deal to allow NBC shows like Heroes and Law & Order to come back into the iTunes catalog. In fact, rumors are starting to swirl that Steve Jobs and NBC CEO, Jeff Zucker may announce a deal in the near future. (Source:

HBO's reputation for smart, well-written programming will be a welcome addition to Apple's digital retail outlet, however the offerings are fairly scarce. Of the six programs for sale, Sex and the City is the only title offering its entire slate of seasons, presumably to promote the movie spinoff coming out later this month. The other shows' offerings are restricted to one or two seasons.

This may be due to the fact that cable channels are dependent on a subscriber base as their primary source of revenue. Making a wide catalog of programming available for download would allow customers to pick and choose their favorite shows instead of paying top dollar to subscribe to the channel. HBO could also take a hit to its DVD sales since iTunes pricing is cheaper than its DVD counterparts. (Source:

Deadwood's first season, for example, is available on Amazon for $54.99, while on iTunes the price is only $35.88. (Source:

The iTunes agreement is the second venture into the digital marketplace for HBO. Earlier this year, HBO began rolling out its broadband service which allows HBO subscribers to download movies and television shows. Currently, HBO broadband is only available in limited markets to subscribers of both HBO and its parent company's Internet provider, Time Warner Cable.

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