updated 09:20 pm EDT, Tue August 31, 2010
ABC and Fox lined up for iTunes TV rental pilot
Apple has managed to line up two major TV networks for its 99-cent iTunes TV rentals ahead of tomorrow's event, a late leak may have confirmed this evening. Previously undecided Fox as well as ABC have reportedly agreed to offer at least some of their shows. The WSJ sources warned that Fox might only offer rentals for a short time as a trial balloon and that it wouldn't include shows where rights aren't uniformly in its favor, like American Idol.
While opposition to the plans is believed to persist at both ABC and Fox, both have reportedly agreed because they see it as an experiment in what works for digital TV.
Fox's parent company, News Corp., may consider it a bargaining chip: the company would not only want help with its WSJ iPad app but on its national tablet-focused magazine, which is now said to be nicknamed the "Daily Planet" based on the fictional Superman newspaper. News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch is known to be excited about the iPad and thinks it could return news to an era where customers are willing to pay for content they could otherwise get for free on the web.
ABC was already expected to provide very little opposition as Apple chief Steve Jobs sits on the Board of Directors for Disney, ABC's owner.
CBS, NBC and Time Warner have so far been reluctant to side with Apple, as they're afraid of challenging the dominance of cable and satellite providers, which still provide the majority of ad revenue and which can retaliate against Internet plans by offering poorer deals or even pulling networks altogether.
The results may disappoint Apple and others who had hoped for broad-based support but could provide a significant lift to the iTV media hub many now think could arrive at tomorrow's event. If rumors are accurate, it would have just 16GB of storage and so would depend on streams and local network shares for most of its content, making purchases less practical. At 99 cents, prices would also drop low enough that iTunes could stave off Hulu Plus and others that promise TV shows at just a fraction of the price of buying each episode.