HBO may come to iTunes as Apple folds on price

Posted by Mark Raby

Cupertino (CA) - HBO is reportedly in discussions with Apple to bring its hit TV shows to iTunes, at a price of more than $2 per episode.

That would mean that Apple's long-running stance that every TV show on the iTunes store would cost $1.99, no more and no less, would effectively be thrown out the window.

A person close to the situation told the New York Times that full seasons of The Sopranos and Sex and the City will be coming to Apple's digital download platform.

HBO is a premium cable channel, so charging more money for individual episodes may make sense.  However, other similar shows, like Showtime's Fat Actress and Dexter, have come to iTunes under Apple's single-pricing policy.

Apple's insistence on a standard price for every TV show download led NBC to not renew its contract with iTunes. The Burbank, CA-based studio went on to co-create an online video portal called Joost and even helped kick off a digital download store from rival Microsoft.

"The big question is, will this start to trickle over to other areas of content?  It could potentially have a huge impact on the music side," said NPD analyst Russ Crupnick in an NYT interview.

The HBO deal would reportedly put shows on iTunes the day they are released on DVD, which would mean new episodes won't come to the Apple store until long after they first air on TV.