Joining the chorus of TV executives who are less than enthusiastic about Apple’s $0.99 TV episode rental initiative, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes didn’t mince words while speaking at the Royal Television Conference in London.
“How can you justify renting your first-run TV shows individually for 99 cents an episode,” Bewkes said, “and thereby jeopardize the sale of the same shows as a series to branded networks that pay hundreds of millions of dollars and make those shows available to loyal viewers for free?”
“These new entrants must meet a few criteria,” Bewkes continued. “They must provide consumers with a superior TV experience, and they must either support or improve the overall economics that funds and creates the programming in the first place.”
Hardly a new perspective. Apple’s TV episode rentals have thus far only attracted the likes of Fox and ABC while a number executives from other networks refuse to sign on the dotted line.
Last week, Warner Brothers CEO Barry Meyer also stated that his company chose not to ink a deal with Apple due to concerns that cheap rentals would have an immediate and adverse effect on full-season sales of popular shows. A few days later, Viacom CEO Phillippe Dauma flat out stated that 99-cent rentals simply isn’t a viable option, and that the low pricepoint would effectively undervalue popular content. NBC Universal’s Jeff Zucker, who won’t be around much longer, also chimed in stating that users interested in NBC content can easily purchase individual episodes on iTunes – rentals be damned. CBS executive Les Moonves, meanwhile, was also apprehensive about TV rentals on iTunes, but seemed more open to the idea of re-exploring the possibility later on in the future.