$100 Worth of Electrons

November 23, 2011 by Gabe | [mmd] |

There's a real problem with iTunes TV show pricing.

The media studios have become very transparent in the their approach towards digital media: Make it too expensive to be viable and push everyone to the old media.

Here’s a good example. Looking at the Kids in the Hall series on iTunes[1], I can get all five seasons for a total of $165 (that’s $33 x 5 seasons). That seems expensive. Maybe it’s just lack of demand for a niche show. Let’s take a look at Amazon.

The box set of all 5 seasons is $60 brand new. Wait! What? So digital delivery of the same content[2] is $100 more than buying a physical product and shipping it to my house?

The only explanations I can see are that A&E (the content owners) think their content is more valuable as bits on a hard drive or wire than as plastic disks. Or maybe they fear that digital distribution leads to piracy. Or maybe, and this is what I think the issue is, they are worried that one digital distributor like Apple will some how dominate the market and dictate the terms. What’s there bright idea? Torpedo the digital form with an outlandish price tag so you can say “see, no one wants it delivered through iTunes. Let’s focus on DVD’s.”

Good luck with that.


  1. It’s not everyone’s taste, but for me this is one of the funniest shows ever put on TV.

  2. It’s actually much more content, since the box set includes commentary, interviews, theater performances, archival footage and more. For the sake of this dialog, let’s say it’s the same content.

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