HBO on May 13 became the first major programmer to work out a flexible pricing deal with Apple, signing an agreement to offer downloads of some of its original series at higher rates than iTunes’ standard $1.99-per-episode pricing plan.
Per terms of the deal, HBO will offer select episodes from The Sopranos, Deadwood and Rome for $2.99 a pop, while the established $1.99 rate will apply for each download of Sex and the City, Flight of the Conchords and The Wire.
The deal is a reversal of sorts for Apple, which a year ago parted ways with NBC Universal after the media conglomerate insisted on a variable price structure for its content. In August, Apple announced that it would no longer offer NBCU fare like The Office and Battlestar Gallactica via iTunes, charging that NBC wanted Apple to pay more than double the wholesale price for each episode.
NBCU denied Apple’s contention, saying that it only wanted to secure a flexible plan that would allow for a variety of bundling and pricing options.
At the time, Apple noted that NBC accounted for three of iTunes’ 10 best-selling TV shows of the 2006-07 season, accounting for 30 percent of the service’s TV show sales.