HBO on iTunes, Pay More for Less


As reported yesterday, HBO shows are now available through iTunes — and Apple is indeed charging more for the privilege. Popular series like The Sopranos and Deadwood go for $2.99, while The Wire Season One and Flight of the Conchords are $1.99 an episode. Now that Apple has opened that door, look for other networks to renegotiate their terms.

While it’s cool to finally see Tony and Chris-tuh-fuh on iTunes, in a typically-corporate move, HBO is not providing all of its shows (at least not yet), just Sex and the City, The Sopranos, Rome, Deadwood, Flight of the Conchords and The Wire. No Entourage, no Larry Sanders, heck not even any Dream On. (Looks like Om’s going to have to wait to really get his HBO fix.)

Also sucky — HBO is not making every episode available. Though Rome and Deadwood have been available on DVD for a while, you can only get the first seasons of each show. Sex and the City is the only multi-season show to offer every episode (at only $1.99), but even the press release says this is a way to promote the upcoming SATC movie.

One last bummer: There are no HD versions.

The good news is, at least downloading isn’t as expensive as buying the DVD set. ITunes offers The Sopranos Season One for $35.88, and the DVD costs $51.99 on Amazon.

All in all, HBO’s presence on iTunes feels rushed, like the two companies wanted to get the announcement done in time for the Sex and the City movie (the publicity machine for that is in full effect). I hope HBO doesn’t treat this like it does VOD, where it rotates through its shows in a maddeningly slow process, frustrating the people who will pay a premium (even on iTunes) to watch it.


Chris Albrecht

Hey Glenn,

Ah yes, Arliss, I’m glad i forgot that one. I’m sure there are a bunch of rights issues being worked out, but why so stingy with shows like Deadwood and the Wire? Sure I know people who own them, or I can Netflix them — but I want to adopt the new technology now dag-gummit.

Glenn Rubenstein

The Larry Sanders Show has a plethora of music clearance issues, which is why HBO only released a “Best Of” DVD set instead of individual seasons (beyond Season One).

And didn’t HBO stop releasing Dream On on DVD at Season Two? Guess there’s as much of a market for that as there is First & Ten! But at least iTunes eliminates the cost of a physical product, so maybe the more obscure shows are HBO’s best bet here?

I mean, what mainstream DVD fan doesn’t already own – or know someone who owns – Sex and the City, The Sopranos, Entourage, or Curb Your Enthusiasm on DVD?

HBO’s first iTunes titles might not be the most interesting assortment of original series, but look at it this way: At least Arliss isn’t one of them.

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