updated 09:15 am EST, Mon January 21, 2008
NBC Apple Warm Up
NBC Universal may be making conciliatory gestures to Apple as part of an effort to revitalize its business, according to a new report by the Financial Times (free trial or paid subscription required). In addition to cutting back on pilot TV shows and other practices that hurt the studio's costs, the network is said to have "patched up relations" with its momentary rival, which it accused of delivering pennies per sale for iTunes video sales, providing just $15 million over the last 12 months of NBC's time on the Apple-run store.
"We've said all along that we admire Apple, that we want to be in business with Apple," says NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker, who had previously accused Apple of refusing to even experiment with flexible pricing.
The apparent recovery signals a returned emphasis to exposing its TV shows to the digital realm as much as possible rather than depending on only a handful of services. NBC Universal launched a private beta of its Hulu ad-sponsored web TV service just as the Apple dispute came to a head and began offering its shows on smaller online stores such as SanDisk Fanfare in an attempt to foster competitors. Hulu has yet to enter public use and so has yet to provide an accurate gauge of its financial success in relation to the iTunes effort.
Signs of improvement in relations may have surfaced with the announcement of an Apple TV update that included rentals from the firm's Universal movie studios as ell as the ability to directly purchase any iTunes content directly from the hub, including TV shows. Opponents such as Vudu have already offered some NBC-broadcast TV shows and Universal movies directly through their own devices.