NBC goes iTunes: More control of your viewing times and places

NBC Universal & Apple Offer New Primetime, Cable, Late-Night & Classic TV Shows on the iTunes Music Store:

NBC Universal and Apple® today announced an unprecedented lineup of new primetime, cable, late-night and classic TV shows, including primetime hits such as “Law & Order” and late-night favorites such as sketches from “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on the iTunes® Music Store

Further evidence that the network schedule is a dinosaur just waiting to die. But, it is also the death knell for carriers that rely on providing exclusive access to channels, unless cable fees are unbundled and the cost of viewing becomes the key differentiator.

The FCC last week said it would force cable companies to allow per-channel subscriptions to TV; it did it only after its client industry was being dissembled by the competition from the Net, so don’t chalk up any progressiveness for the FCC. It was just spinning its too-close relationship with broadcasters. Maybe the FCC will serve the people, again, but I doubt it.

Likewise, the time-/place-shifted world heralds the beginning of more direct head-to-head competition between talent, who now have the opportunity to build one-to-one relationships with their audience/community (“community” is the keystone of success, if you ask me). See my 1995 article on the rise of the online personality, or “OPie,” which is playing out now.

The question is, will Apple, in the guise of iTunes, be the new cable monopoly? It will certainly try for big-media programming, but the plurality of distribution channels for audio and video mean that the creator is more in charge than ever. Lest we discount the role of the marketer, I do think there is a reason to believe producers have worked with marketers for hundreds of years in order to gain market share.

UPDATE: The Unofficial Apple Weblog points out that pricing flexibility is at hand, as I predicted a while back.

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