NBC a Holdout for 99-Cent iTunes Rentals

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So far, only ABC and Fox have signed on with Apple’s plan to rent individual TV show for 99 cents apiece. Other networks have yet to join in, and yesterday, NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker made clear that his company probably won’t be anytime soon.

According to Zucker, speaking at a Goldman Sachs Investor conference (via AppleInsider), giving in to Apple’s request would be bad for NBC’s brand. “We do not think 99 cents is the right price point for our content,” he said. “We thought it would devalue our content.” More than giving it away for free while shilling for Bud Light and Pepsi? Really?

Still, it’s hard to fault NBC for playing coy initially. Though ABC and Fox have signed on with Apple’s plan, as mentioned, Fox has done so only temporarily. It told investors at the conference on Wednesday that the 99-cent price point was only a “short-term test” designed to gauge feasibility in the longer term.

This isn’t Apple’s first rodeo, though. NBC has played a similar tune in the past, when it pulled all of its content from the iTunes store in 2007 with little warning. It was attempting to use its position as a top mover of content in the iTunes marketplace to bully Apple into doubling the price of its individual episodes.

NBC eventually caved, signing back on to sell episodes at the regular price of $1.99 for SD and $2.99 for HD. Apple TV’s sales success will have a major impact in determining whether history repeats itself or not in this case. I’m betting it will.

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