Warner Bros., Itunes reach video content deal

Posted by Scott M. Fulton, III

Cupertino (CA) - In just the latest move to bolster the wealth of video content available for the iPod, Apple has reached an agreement with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group to make several of its more popular franchises available for download via iTunes. Included in the list released this morning are selected episodes from the breakthrough sci-fi series Babylon 5, the former NBC flagship sitcom Friends, and the breakthrough sci-fi series The Jetsons.

Apple's flat rate sales model again carries the day, with per-episode downloads capped at $1.99. It also is a clear indicator that the Time Warner division won't be entirely reliant upon its sister division, AOL, to provide Internet or PMP users with video content from its extensive library, the size of which is only rivaled by Viacom.

Last month, Warner Bros. announced a similar deal to make episodes available via Guba.com, although that deal will likely result in much fewer downloads than this one.

Also on the iTunes hit list this morning from Warner Bros. is a download of the pilot episode of Aquaman, a series which would have been spun off from the popular Smallville had its host network, The WB, not agreed to merge with UPN this fall. Under the leadership of most of UPN's former programming team, many WB projects failed to make the cut...and could thus conceivably wind up on iTunes as well, if Aquaman takes off there. By the way, the Aquaman download should vindicate poor Joe Kernen, the CNBC on-air anchor/analyst who was seriously making a joke about an Aquaman pilot, but was later taken to task by such publications as Variety for allegedly making a grave blunder, and thus staining the face of financial reporting forever. Kernen was actually referring to the plot of a cable TV show Entourage, which itself was playing a little satire on the failed Aquaman pilot by playing it as though it were directed by James Cameron as a feature film. So don't be surprised early downloaders of this episode are actually members of the financial community.