The networks previously rejected Apple’s plan to rent the TV programs on iTunes at that price point, but Fox reportedly is now in advanced talks with the computer innovator.
Viewers would be able to rent episodes from News Corp.’s Fox for two days, sources told Bloomberg. They’d be available within 24 hours of first-run broadcasts.
ABC also appears ready to cut a deal, Bloomberg said.
Apple’s Steven Jobs is the major player on the board of Walt Disney Co., which owns the alphabet network.
There remain sticking points in the iTunes negotiations, the New York Times reports. (Both Bloomberg and the Times quoted anonymous sources close to the talks.)
TV episodes currently sell for $2 to $3 on iTunes. The networks feared that cheap and easily available rentals of their primetime shows would dilute their value for retransmission, and for DVD/Blu-ray. So what changed?
Apple is widely expected to unveil its iTV product on Sept. 7. Speculation has it that the new box would replace the wobbly AppleTV product at a lower price. Reports over the summer said that the simple $99 version iwould be an “iPhone without a screen” — complete with apps and streaming video, some of it in 1080p HD. (The operating system and user interfaces would be similar to those on the iPhone and iPad.)
In early June, Jobs was downbeat on chances for a game-changing set-top box:
“The television industry fundamentally has a subsidized business model that gives everyone a set-top box for free or for $10 a month. That pretty much squashes any opportunity for innovation because nobody’s willing to buy (an expensive) set-top box,” he said.
“I’m sure smarter people than us will figure this out,” Jobs said, referring to the marriage of the Web and television.
Google TV debuts early this fall.