Apple’s iTunes service is a dominant player in the music space, generating millions of dollars for labels and artists with sales fast reaching 10 billion songs – but it’s a different deal for movies and TV shows through the service.
Celebrating the nearing achievement of 10 billion songs, Apple recently launched a competition, offering one lucky iTunes customer who manages to download the ten billionth track a $10,000 iTunes gift card.
We’re really close to a winner there now, as of Monday morning, the tally had surpassed 9.8 billion, from 9.5 billion on Friday. (Right now it’s in excess of 9,981,000,000 sales, climbing fast.)
Different news vis-a-vis TV and movies, as pointed out by the venerable Philip Elmer-DeWitt at Fortune. He observes that while Apple will discuss how many of both media types are available for sale through iTunes, it remains pretty reticent naming the numbers.
Though some have slipped.
“Reviewing Apple’s press releases and quarterly earnings calls, we found only three reports of TV show sales: 50 million (Jan. 2007), 200 million (Oct. 2008) and 250 million (March 2009). For Hollywood movie sales, there were even fewer reports: 1.3 million sold (Jan. 2007), 2 million sold (July 2007) and 33 million “purchased and rented” (March 2009). This at a time when song and app sales are are pouring in by the billions,” the report observes…
These disappointing sales are behind Apple’s current attempt to convince studios to offer up their TV content at 99c rather than $1.99 per episode. Hollywood is resisting Apple’s overtures, wary of harming its DVD and other businesses, though CBS and others have admitted to being ready to “experiment” with Apple’s new pricing attempt.
Despite reticence going all the way, the TV networks don’t want to ignore 125 million iTunes customers. “We’re willing to try anything, but the key word is ‘try,’ ” one TV network executive who requested anonymity because his company had declined to comment publicly on talks with Apple told the NY Times.
PBS currently offers some shows at 99-cents through iTunes, but this isn’t expected to continue. Andrew Russell, a senior vice president of the service, called it a three-week experiment to “generate buzz.”
“At this point we still feel the $1.99 price point is right for us, our audiences and our producers to help support creation of more outstanding kids’ content,” he told the NY Times. “But we’ll remain flexible in this fast-changing environment.”