Apple Nabbing HBO Shows?

Apple will reportedly announce a deal to sell HBO shows next week, according to Portfolio. If true, the move would be a big win for the iTunes store and Apple TV and would finally make HBO content available online in a meaningful way.

Reportedly, the HBO deal would also be the first time Apple has agreed to flexible pricing for content. Whether this means Apple will charge consumers more than $1.99 per show or just absorb the higher cost it would pay to HBO is unknown. But flexible pricing is what drove NBC shows off iTunes last year.

For its part, HBO needs a digital strategy. ThisJustIn, its attempt at a comedy site, flopped. It is testing an overly complicated broadband delivery mechanism in Wisconsin. And it offered up free episodes of In Treatment only as a means of propping up the struggling show.

The availability of cool content from HBO would also be a boon to Apple TV, providing buyers with access to content they could not get without a monthly subscription to HBO. But if Apple is going to be flexible with content pricing for HBO, will this open the door to flex pricing for other content, something record labels and networks like NBC have been demanding?

Though specific shows weren’t reported in the Portfolio piece, presumably hits like Sex and the City and The Sopranos would be part of the offering. The timing of the announcement would make sense as way to promote the Sex and the City movie opening May 30th. And having The Sopranos would also whack the teeny bit of momentum Microsoft’s Zune Marketplace got last week when it signed NBC content.

We contacted HBO for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

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