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Ruminations - Classic Television Comes to iTunes?

Ruminations - Classic Television Comes to iTunes?

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"It's good to be the King!"

Mel Brooks, History of the World, Part 1

Well, it was only a matter of time, wasn't it?

Yes, readers of this space may recall that it was prognosticated right here (less than two months ago) that the expansion of Apple's iTunes online store in partnership with other media companies as a distribution channel for home video products was only a matter of time.

So, guess what?

NBC's television content in the palm of your hand!

Courtesy of Apple.

BURBANK, California and CUPERTINO, California?December 6, 2005?NBC Universal and Apple® today announced an unprecedented lineup of new primetime, cable, late-night and classic TV shows, including primetime hits such as "Law & Order" and late-night favorites such as sketches from "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on the iTunes® Music Store (www.itunes.com). iTunes now offers more than 300 episodes of 16 popular TV shows for viewing on a computer or iPod®. Customers have purchased and downloaded more than three million videos since their debut on October 12, making the iTunes Music Store the world's most popular video download store.

NBC Universal programming now available on the iTunes Music Store spans from the 1950s to the present, including NBC's "Law & Order," "The Office," "Surface," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," the USA Network's Emmy Award-winning "Monk" and Sci-Fi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica" as well as classic TV shows including "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Dragnet," "Adam-12" and "Knight Rider," on the iTunes Music Store beginning today. Customers can purchase and download their favorite shows, including current shows the day after they air on TV, and watch them on their computer or iPod. The NBC Universal programs will be available in newly designated areas of the iTunes Music Store featuring the NBC Universal brands, including the NBC network, Sci-Fi Channel and the USA Network.

"We're thrilled to expand the iTunes video catalog with 11 popular TV shows from NBC, USA Network and the Sci-Fi Channel," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "In our first two months we've sold more than three million videos, and have expanded our TV catalog from five shows to 16 shows."

"We are committed to helping viewers enjoy the wide breadth of our programs across an equally wide range of devices and distribution models," said Bob Wright, vice chairman of GE and chairman and CEO of NBC Universal. "Apple has developed a distribution platform that is attractive to consumers while at the same time providing the safeguards against theft that are so important to us and to every content provider. We are pleased to partner with them in this new venture."

Frankly, I'm glad that NBC chose now to step up and bring a wide variety of content from many of the branches of its family of networks to the store. Perhaps we might see Disney do the same to expand their commitment to the process soon? After all, Macworld San Francisco is less than a month away. Sure would be neat to see Bob Iger and Steve Jobs on stage again there, wouldn't it?

NBC Universal did take things a bit further than Disney did. The best step in my opinion was to offer some classic programming. While I realize that "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", "Dragnet 1967", "Adam 12" or "Knight Rider" may not be the absolute best of the best of the properties that they have in their vaults, these shows do have fans who will enjoy seeing them available on iTunes. Personally, seeing Barry Fitzgerald as Santa in Hitchcock's "Santa Claus and the 10th Avenue Kid" is a great treat!

NBC Late Night Classic TV Shows

Courtesy of Apple

And interestingly enough, these same titles are available on DVD as boxed sets right now. Check these Amazon links for more details - "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", "Dragnet 1967", "Adam 12", and "Knight Rider". Reading through some of the reviews there, it appears that using iTunes to purchase some of these episodes may be the better choice to make. Universal Home Video has received an unfortunate reputation for cutting corners on many of it's classic television show boxed set releases by using lower quality double side discs, not adding any extras.

And how about the first entries for the late night television crowd? Here's hoping that we get more of Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien content soon. It's nice to see some of the classic moments from Conan including all of the 10th Anniversary Special! One has to wonder if someone at World Wide Pants (Hello? Mr. Letterman?) is paying attention here. That recent Oprah episode would be a big seller!

Battlestar Galactica fans, rejoice!

Courtesy of Apple

I will also step up and give NBC Universal kudos for bringing Battlestar Galactica from the Sci-Fi Channel to iTunes. As much as this show has taken viewers on some real twists and turns, here is hoping that new viewers will be tuning in for the next season thanks to exposure here. Fans can not only purchase Season One on iTunes but Season Two and the Mini-series that re-launched the show. These are also now out on home video as well. Seems a great concept to cover as many bases as you can at once to promote this series. While it is still being shown in reruns on Sci-Fi, this is something of a first for a show of this type. Maybe when the third season premieres fans won't have to wait to get their copies on DVD, but instead have them at home on iTunes?

Tell you what folks... now is the time to drop both Disney and NBC a note letting them know what you would like to see on iTunes next. Strike while the iron is hot and you never know what they will decide next? Consumers determining product placement! Now that is a concept...

One final note on this news, trivia in fact. Jim Hill Media readers may recall a column by Jackson "Pop Culture" King that shared a bit of information on Jack Webb:


The late Jack Webb is perhaps best remembered as the tough and hard working cop, Joe Friday, on the TV series DRAGNET. Amazingly, in his youth, he wanted to be a cartoonist. "I was convinced that Walt Disney was combing the country for a fellow like me," revealed Webb in an interview before his death, "I made up a portfolio, took it to Disney Studios and sat back to wait for the big offer." All this took place in the mid-1930s and that big offer never came, so Webb found other work. Later, Webb became a friend of Disney and even shot some DRAGNET episodes on the Disney back lot.

Seems to me I recall hearing tales of Jack Webb sharing soundstages with the Mickey Mouse Club, too. Even how Jack had to come over one day and see what all the noise was about while filming an episode of his show...

Small world, isn't it?

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