Two developments in the wake of NBC Universal's (GE) weekend exit from Apple's (AAPL) iTunes store:
Ruport Murdoch's Twentieth Century Fox (NWS) is reported to be "actively negotiating" with Apple to put new releases and catalog titles on iTunes beginning in early 2008. According to Rich Greenfield at Pali Research (link; activation required) several things have changed to break the deadlock, including growing levels of movie piracy and new flexibility on Apple's part in terms of pricing. Greenfield's casual speculation that Apple might be willing to charge $15 per movie download has triggered some interesting analysis (see
and Ars Technica's
) but should probably not be treated as gospel.
NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker placed his company's digital strategy last on his list of priorities in a luncheon speech at the UBS Global Media & Communications Conference on Monday. Repeating an earlier claim that NBCU's deal with Apple was worth "only $15 million" in profit, he added: "That’s nothing to sneeze at, every dollar matters. But it wasn’t the game changer for us that it was for Apple." He pointed to NBC's video offerings on Amazon and NBC Direct and singled out for praise hulu.com, its joint effort with News Corp.:
We're in the beta test with Hulu and we have 60,000 users, seven major advertisers. The online press wanted to kill it, but it's doing well. Advertisers tell us they want a safe environment. That's what this is about. They don't want a cat on a skateboard, but they do want The Simpsons or a film they like. (see Paid Content's report here)