NBC, iTunes Strike New Deal

Variable pricing, ability to package shows using 'Season Pass' help to bring NBC Universal, Apple back together.

NBC and Apple forged a new deal that will bring NBC programming back to the iTunes store.

Starting immediately, programs from the NBC Universal networks will be available at the standard iTunes price of $1.99 per episode, with select older programming (think Kojak and The A-Team) available at $0.99.

The lack of flexibility in pricing was at the heart of the dispute between the two companies a year ago, resulting in NBC pulling its programs from iTunes once its contract with Apple lapsed.

The pricing will gain some added flexibility, however, with the announcement that Apple will make HD downloads available to coincide with the launch of revamped and HD-ready iPods. HD shows will sell for $2.99 per episode.

A spokesperson for NBC said that the variable pricing, combined with the ability to package shows together using iTunes’ “Season Pass,” helped to bring the two companies to some common ground.

After the contract dispute last year, Apple said NBC wanted to “more than double the wholesale price” of shows -- a charge NBC said was not true.

As of press time, programming available includes content from NBC, including The Office and 30 Rock, as well as from Sci Fi Channel, Bravo, NBC News and USA Network. Content from Oxygen, Telemundo and NBC Sports is expected to be available soon.

When NBC’s shows were removed last year, they accounted for more than one-third of all television-show downloads on the iTunes store.

NBC will also make one free episode from each of its shows, in either standard-definition of HD, available for the next two weeks.

The move is an effort to promote the new fall season, which is seeing the debuts of the adaptation of Australian series Kath & Kim and drama series My Own Worst Enemy. The premieres of those shows, as well as Knight Rider, will be available on iTunes one week before they premiere on NBC, similar to a campaign by NBC co-owned video-streaming site Hulu.

"The return of our shows to iTunes is terrific news for everyone who loves television and the ease and convenience of Apple's iTunes,” NBCU president and CEO Jeff Zucker said in announcing the deal. "And now, by offering consumers a variety of new options, our fans have even more ways to enjoy our content.”