Tech News

NBC signs up with Amazon’s Unbox download service

By Stevie Smith Sep 5, 2007, 17:30 GMT

While NBC Universal and Apple Inc. continue to lock corporate horns concerning the latter’s staunch refusal to relax fixed per-episode download charges on iTunes, NBC has this week unveiled a new bedfellow for its downloadable media content in the form of Inc. and its fledgling Unbox service.

General Electric-owned NBC Universal yesterday revealed that it has signed a content deal with to deliver a wide selection of its television line-up to the relatively young Unbox download portal, reports the New York Times. NBC properties to be made available through Unbox (the day after they officially air) include popular offerings such as action drama serial "Heroes" and the US version of quirky workspace comedy "The Office" – to name but a few.

NBC will also allow Unbox customers to download – for free and ahead of official broadcast – pilot episodes of various new shows scheduled to appear in the autumn. These include the action adventure re-imagining of "Bionic Woman" and also the heroic time-travelling thrills of "Journeyman".

While final pricing has yet to be confirmed, Unbox – unlike iTunes – generally operates on a less rigid pricing scale. For example, users can rent movies for $3.99 USD or purchase via download for $14.99 USD. In the case of its hosted NBC television content, Unbox will offer users a 30 percent reduction on occasions when full seasons are downloaded.

The deal between NBC and Amazon arrives hot on the heels of the ongoing content pricing battle being waged between NBC Universal and Apple Inc. The tussle is largely centred on Apple’s unwillingness to relax the $1.99 USD flat-rate per-episode fees of its iTunes Store in relation to NBC’s downloadable television content. NBC would like to see its content priced on a per-episode basis closer to $4.99 across its more popular shows, while also given the ability to price below the $1.99 USD mark during promotional offers.

As a result of the standoff, NBC has refused to renew its iTunes Store contract when it expires in December. Apple, by way of delivering its own gut punch, has refused to carry any new episodes of current NBC shows and has also refused to take any of the new shows attributed to NBC’s autumn line-up.

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