Question. How do you reward the service that helped save THE OFFICE from the brink of cancellation? If you answered, allow your contract to expire and attempt to start a competing venture, you my friend have been taking Michael Scott’s business advice a little too seriously.
Unfortunately, a competing service is exactly what NBC Universal is hoping to launch, with the NY Times reporting today that the company has decided not to renew its contract to sell digital downloads of television shows on iTunes. Brilliant move NBC! Just ask MTV how their URGE music store is doing against iTunes!
Yes, it’s understandable that NBC UNIVERSAL is nervous about giving Apple too much power and that they’re getting ready to launch their own online venture, but the reality of the situation is that iTunes works. Not only does iTunes allows fans to catch up on shows they may have missed. It gives audiences a chance to discover shows they never would have bothered watching and more importantly, helps generate new viewers for shows that are currently on the air.
Case in point BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. When the show initially premiered, this TV Addict had absolutely zero interest in watching a re-imagined take on a cheesy 70’s space odyssey. Yet when it came time for the second season to start, the critical rumbling was too strong to ignore — Ronald D. Moore’s take on GALACTICA was a must watch. So this TV Addict went straight to iTunes and downloaded the mini-series. Not surprisingly, we were hooked and quickly downloaded the rest of season one and two in order to catch up. Thanks to iTunes, SCI FI gained a fan and a powerful cheerleader for the show.
How about THE OFFICE? Anyone else excited to watch Pam and Jim’s relationship play out this season? If so, you have iTunes to thank. Said Angela Bromstead, president of NBC Universal Television, “I’m not sure that we’d still have the show on the air. The network had only ordered so many episodes, but when it went on iTunes and really started taking off, that gave us another way to see the true potential other than just Nielsen. It just kind of happened at a great time.” In their own words, NBC admits that iTunes played an integral role in saving one of their most important assets. Imagine NBC without THE OFFICE or SCI FI without BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. Is NBC Universal really that short-sighted to take their shows off the one service that helps generate viewers (and dollars) for them?
In the end, all NBC Universal [and every other Hollywood Studio for that matter] needs to know is this. Television fans like things the way they are, or to quote a recent poster on MacRumors.com, “Either I can buy a season of SCRUBS and THE OFFICE when it starts again or I can find it in some other manner that will not benefit NBC at all.”