Blog Post

Breaking Bad fans sue Apple for cutting short Season Pass

An Ohio man has filed a lawsuit against Apple(s aapl), claiming the company owes him and other Breaking Bad fans $22.99 for not including all 16 episodes in a “Season Pass” to the show’s final season, which was split into two parts.

In a class action suit filed in San Jose, California, Noam Lazebnik says Apple engaged in false advertising by providing only 8 episodes to consumers even though its “Season Pass” page explains that viewers will get “every episode in that season.”

“When a consumer buys a ticket to a football game, he does not have to leave at halftime. When a consumer buys an opera ticket, he does not get kicked out at intermission,” says the claim. It adds that Breaking Bad, which is about a high school chemistry teacher who builds a meth empire, is the most popular show in Apple’s iTunes’ store.

The claim also says Breaking Bad’s creators and actors have consistently described the 16 final episodes as “Season 5.” Apple did not immediately return a request for comment.

The lawsuit claims that viewers are owed either $14.99 or $22.99, which are the iTunes prices for the final eight episodes in standard and high definition.

The case is based on breach of contract and violation of California’s consumer protection laws. You can read it for yourself here:

Apple Breaking Bad Suit

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78 Responses to “Breaking Bad fans sue Apple for cutting short Season Pass”

  1. Nick Murphy

    I’m surprised that no one is pointing out the fact that a cable subscriber would potentially have to subscribe to cable for a longer period of time in order to get both part 1 and part 2 of Season 5. Is there a potential lawsuit against AMC for redefining what broadcast television has historically defined as a season to drive customers to subscribe to AMC for a longer period of time?

    I don’t think you can look at digital distribution separately from our traditional distribution methods in this case.

    When you look at the holistic distribution market of content, Apple, Amazon, etc are not distributing the content any differently than AMC.

    I can’t see anyone trying to sue broadcasters based on the definition of a television season.

  2. Happening on Google play store too, bought season five and was told that as new episodes came out they would be available to me without more $. Now halfway through what has been refferred to as the 2nd half of the 5th season, suddenly its season 6. Even Vince Gilligan was calling it the second half before it came back, now he is also now on the season 6 bandwagon…total crap!

  3. Season 5 is 16 episodes, 8 last year, 8 this year. So if you’re buying per episode in SD, it’s $2 * 16 which is $32, total. In HD, $3 * 16 = $48

    If you bought the pass for the first half (8), it was priced at $13 if I’m not mistaken, the pass for the second half (another 8), it’s $15, for a total of $28, for SD. For HD, $22 + $23 = $45. You’re still paying less than someone who paid per episode. I don’t get people saying you were better off paying per episode.

  4. I started watching the last 8 on AMC so I didn’t check my iTunes purchase, but this is so wrong! I was expecting to get the final 8 as well. PS It’s weird having the show with commercials and it also disrupts the intensity of the show.

  5. These folks didn’t pay AMC, they paid Apple, so if they’re suing anyone, it should be Apple. And no lawyer would want to waste their time on something like this. One of these folks is a lawyer or more likely a probably a paralegal taking it on for themselves and thinking that it’s they can get Apple to just give them the additional episodes because they think that it will be cheaper for Apple to do that rather than defend this. They’re wrong.

  6. Allan G Reilly

    It was also marketed as “The Final Season”. Which it clearly isn’t if they rename the last 8 episodes as the season after it. Before Apple and others started scrambling the english language, a “Season” quite consistently meant a year’s worth of episodes. You never had two seasons in a year.

  7. ATV_Remote_Fiend

    This is very ironic: a show about a maker of a sleazy drug has addicted viewers who have lost their minds and think a retailer has ripped them off by not giving them more of their needed material for less money than they paid before! This show must be visual meth!

  8. Chris Neglia

    This all comes down to a technology issue in the rapid-changing world of a la carte media: neither apple’s store, nor google play, nor instant video store are equipped with the business logic to handle a variable bulk media purchase system quite yet. So an example scenario in which I believe is a win-win for users as well as content creators would be to allow you to buy any arbitrary number of episodes of a single show like ‘Breaking Bad’ and give you a discount proportional to that number, irrespective of season. So if for example I bought 2 episodes of season 2 because i bittorrented the rest illegally because amc was too stupid to make it available for pay at that time, then i bought all of seasons 3-4 then it would give me something like a bulk discount for something like 20 episodes. Then the different outlets should talk to each other in terms of a user’s identity and the DRM rights bound to each, so that this discount is transferrable. We are a long way off from this, but we do have single sign on for identity mgmt right now, and we also have databases, so if it doesn’t happen then it’s because there is no finanical incentive for these outlets and customer service motivations don’t count unless this enhancement can translate into revenue.

  9. Can’t believe this many people thought they were getting all 16 episodes for less than $1 per episode SD and less than $1.40 HD. I briefly thought, hey that would be nice if they were putting the whole season up at that price on iTunes, but then reality set in.

  10. As to those suggesting that $15 to $23 is already some kind of ‘value’ for 8 episodes – you sell yourselves (take that exactly as it is) short.

    The ‘slightest’ product placement – cars, watches, booze, etc. has taken advantage of any agreement and you are now paying companies to advertise to you. The producers, actors and crew are already making great money off of you in exchange for providing a product you like but you are now being taken advantage of, and deservedly so, for willingly putting up with these prices if they contain any subtle advertising ‘placement’ OR (and equally slimy) any ‘false’ advertisement .

    When someone questions the bill … it’s not for others at the table to say ‘ah forget about it’ unless you are paying for their meal.

    So if you like bending over and taking it, well fine – that’s you. But others may have spines and have the self respect required to stand up for themselves.

  11. Matthew B. Howell

    A “Sleaze-Ball” Hedge Fund manager was once overheard to say “America is the greatest country in the world, because you can sue anybody you want” – as I recall, he’s still a successfull Hedge Fund manager….

  12. I was one of the people who bought the first season 5 of Breaking Bad on itunes. When I bought it, it was marketed to have 16 episodes. Can you guess how many episodes we got? Only 8 episodes and an extras for each of the 8 episodes, which were called “Inside Breaking Bad”, which are not episodes. Called itunes about it, they said they would look into it. I’m not completely upset, but when I bought it, I did expect to have 16 episodes.

    • You received eight episodes because that’s what you paid for. SD episodes are 1.99 and HD 2.99 and you save a couple of bucks if you buy the season pass. Do the math if you can.

      • Aaron Hacker

        You obviously don’t get it… It does not matter how much they charge for it; they could charge a freaking dollar for the pass, but the problem is that customers are not getting the 16 episodes that Apple has clearly stated was included. False advertisement=illegal business practice.

        If I buy a car on sale for $16,000, but the normal price is $19,000, is the car dealer going to remove the engine because I would be “getting what I paid for”?

      • Herp Durpington

        This guy has never heard of a sale price. Prices can and always will vary. Apple did not market this as a “half-season pass”, therefore no matter what they charged it should have been the entire season. Jesus you must get all of the bad deals at the store because you don’t want to buy anything on sale. Pony up full price for everything so you get what you pay for.

  13. It doesn’t matter what the creators and actors call it. What matters is how it’s marketed. It’s clearly being marketed as two seasons. The suit is being driven by lawyers hoping for a piece of the pie and by “look at me, I’m getting something for nothing” plaintiffs. It reminds me of Abraham Lincoln’s famous lesson: “How many legs does a dog have if you call its tail a leg? Four, because calling its tail a leg doesn’t make it one.”

    There are 16 episodes here. Sorry, that’s two seasons of material. End of story.

    • Lana Kane

      On AMC’s own website they are labeling the new episodes as 11, 12, 13… If this were a new season would they not start at 1. They also show the episodes as 512, meaning season 5 episode 12. So how is this marketing it as two seasons? I too would be pissed if I payed for a SEASON PASS and only got half of the season.

      16 episodes is two seasons worth of material? Some other US shows have seasons with episode counts upward of 20. So GTFO outta here with your “end of story”

    • Aaron Blankenship

      16 episodes is not 2 seasons worth of a show. At minimum a season of a popular show on the big networks should be 12 episodes. Doctor who seasons are 13-18 episodes, Heroes was 12-20 episodes a season, Supernatural is 22 episodes each.

      They did a break after doing 8 episodes to build hype, and the story continues not as a new fork in the story but from the same scene they left on.

      AMC is most likely behind this decision try and capitalize on their content twice, however Apple has been known to do some price fixing by contacting competition to follow their pricing. Maybe this is another instance of that and the reason all the other retailers are following suit. Google “Apple price fixing ebooks” for more info on that recent case.

      Whoever’s at fault, they should all just settle now and give all the customers their refund if they paid for the second half or access to the content if they bought the first half which was marketed as 16 episodes.

      • aaron

        if you want to mix apples and oranges you should open a fruit store. the e-books case is far from over, and if there is any justice left in America, apple will win their appeal; if they don’t this little dust up will be the least of anyone’s worries. you are prejudging this case (accusing apple) just like judge cote did. shame on both of you.

        • Aaron Blankenship

          Please explain to me how a massive company going around to all the other companies selling something and telling them they have to raise their prices or the publishers would leave them is good for consumers? Even if they were right on the line of breaking the law or not, its clearly wrong. Why defend them? Do you have stock in APPL?

    • No, it’s not being marketed as two seasons. If it were, this would be season 6.

      The suit is being driven by consumers demanding a greedy company like Apple give what was sold to its customers, and apologists like YOU are only making it worse.

      Please go and show me ONE instance of the current season being marketed as season 6. No, pal, go on, I’ll wait.

      • But on AMC’s own site, they’re clearly calling the final 8 episodes “The Final Season.” Not to mention on magazines, billboards, and web banners. But why look at it logically? Obviously, Apple designed all of AMC’s print and web advertising worldwide.

        On the advertising for the first half of season 5, none, not a single one, of the ads had the words “The Final Season.” I’m referring to these All Hail The King ads. Also, I don’t recall a single instance where Apple said you would get 16 episodes. But since everyone said Apple did, the burden of proof is on you.

        Yes, technically the final season is 16 episodes but people who are ignorant to how itunes distribution works are incorrectly blaming Apple when AMC clearly wanted two discrete “seasons” for the sake of money. The final 8 weren’t even finished when the first 8 aired. AMC could have easily sent the episodes to itunes as an addendum to the first 8, but they didn’t.

        I find it ironic that whiners who want to hold onto their extra $15 are accusing Apple of greed.

  14. The guy’s an idiot. The last four episodes haven’t even been broadcast yet.

    The remaining eight episodes will come after a break. In the UK, nearly all US cable programmes come in two batches on iTunes.

    • Caskey Hunsader

      No, you appear to be the idiot. In all the video distribution companies (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) This one season is being sold and charged as 2 seasons when it’s been very clearly advertised as one. It’s not just a matter of them not being available yet. The second half has begun airing and is being sold as a new season. What does it matter if the last four episodes haven’t been broadcast yet? That has no bearing on this lawsuit.

      However, I wonder if suing Apple is the best thing that can be done here. Because it’s happening across all sales channels, perhaps AMC should be the real target. They seem to be the ones dictating that it should be sold this way. Apple really doesn’t have a horse in this race. If it was only being sold this way on iTunes with Amazon selling them all under the banner of one season, then a case against Apple could be made, but this really looks like it’s AMC’s directive.

      • He payed half the price of a season for half a season… Do you guys expect to pay 15$ for the entire NEW season of what’s currently one of or the best show on television?

        • It really doesn’t matter what they ‘expect’. If you purchase a season pass for season 5, and only get half the season then you really didn’t purchase a season pass for season 5. It’s false advertisement plain and simple. Just because iTunes offered it at half price, does not make it any better. That fault lies with Apple for advertising the season pass as a “full season”

          • norelationto

            I think I agree on this. It may be an Apple only thing. WIth Amazon, The season pass is just a slight discount per episode. Maybe from $2.29 to $1.99 for Standard Def. WIth Amazon you are only billed for the episodes you actually get. If you watch 4 of the 8, you pay $8.00 So if he paid $2.00 per ep. for 8 episodes he got what he paid for.

            Apple may do it differently and that’s one reason I don’t use Apple. If they charged $16 in one pop for “Season 8” and called it the whole season, then maybe they owe the guy some episodes. I don’t think it will apply to Amazon because they specifically state that you can cancel and only be billed for the episodes you got (that had already aired) up to that time.

            Lots of other stuff going on in the world that makes this seem kind of petty.

          • Andy Simmons

            The fault does not lie with Apple, because they leave it up to the content owner to decide which episodes are in which “season”. In this case, AMC has apparently decided that these last 8 episodes are a new season.

            So the plaintiff really should be suing the content owner. However, it is still in Apple’s best interest to do what they can to rectify this; even though this is not their “fault”, it does damage to the value proposed by the “Season Pass” concept. Why would I shell out the cash for a season pass before the conclusion of a season if there’s a chance that this sort of thing will happen?

          • Nicholas Modesto

            Apple is not setting the season pass prices or how the season episodes are packaged. The content owners are.

            Apple is providing a store/market place for content owners to sell their stuff. Much like Ebay provies a store/market place for owners to sell their stuff. Do you sue Ebay because the stuff you bought was misadvertised by the seller?

        • Nicholas Modesto

          The pricing is not half the normal price of a Season. AMC is really trying to squeeze every nickel out of the show’s fan base before the show is over.

          Breaking Bad Season 1 – HD 14.99 | SD 11.99
          Breaking Bad Season 2 – HD 24.99 | SD 21.99
          Breaking Bad Season 3 – HD 29.99 | SD 21.99
          Breaking Bad Season 4 – HD 29.99 | SD 21.99
          Breaking Bad Season 5.1 – HD 21.99 | SD 13.99
          Breaking Bad Season 5.2 – HD 22.99 | SD 14.99

      • Just a Guy

        I disagree AMC this is airing it as season 5. Its just another cash grab, and they wonder why people pirate tv shows and movies… Wait till the verdict is passed on this case, if buddy wins. We will see all the other online companies change their tune real fast, if not well they shouldn’t be surprised when people start pirating.

          • Nicholas Modesto

            This is a cash grab.

            1.) Season 3 and 4 had the exact same pricing scheme for 16 episodes. Suddenly Season 5 (the final full 16 episode season) costs almost 50% more for fans to get 16 episodes.

            Breaking Bad Season 3 – HD 29.99 | SD 21.99
            Breaking Bad Season 4 – HD 29.99 | SD 21.99
            Breaking Bad Season 5.1 – HD 21.99 | SD 13.99
            Breaking Bad Season 5.2 – HD 22.99 | SD 14.99

            2.) Clearly AMC thought they could pull a fast one by calling it “the final season”. AMC has been advertised “the final 8 episodes” to be Season 5 part 2.

            • Nicholas Modesto

              Same amount of episodes between 5.1 and 5.2. What is your reasoning there?

              If they were charging consumers the same episode unit cost from seasons 3 (13 episodes), season 4 (13 episodes) and season 5 (16 episodes) then 5.1 and 5.2 would cost people 18.99 for the HD versions if we round up to the nearest 99 cent price point.

    • You can buy a Season’s Pass on iTunes before the Season has even begun airing and they will automatically download when they become available. That’s the point of buying a Season Pass.
      It was advertised to contain 16 episodes, which was circumvented by Apple or the Producers by including documentary featurettes to each episode. He very obviously has a case. I can’t say that I understand why people keep siding with the multi-billion-dollar corporations in cases like this, instead of their fellow consumers. Goddamn Stockholm Syndrome.