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We Can All Learn Something from iTunes

May 29, 2009 Leave a comment

On Thursday (May 28, 2009), American networks like ABC, Fox, NBC and WB made 20 of their TV series available on the iTunes Canada store. Now Canadians can download favorites like Grey’s Anatomy, House and many more for $2.50 – $3.50 per ep. This is great news for Canada because U.S. based websites like ABC.com or Hulu.com are not allowed to serve their free video content to Canadians (as part of their contractual content distribution rights).

FACT: Canada has the highest online video penetration of the five countries comScore tracks (Canada 88%, France 82%, Germany 82%, U.K. 81%, U.S. 76%).

Think of the one or two early adopters you probably know who like to show off their media servers and web connected home theatre systems whenever you come over for a visit. I don’t think anyone can dispute the fact that we will, in the very near future begin to see mass acceptance of web enabled television. This is when viewers will actually be able to interact with broadcast and advertising content via the internet on a single screen, in the comfort of their living room. To put it all in context: You (yes you!) will be able to sit down in your living room, turn on your TV, visit the iTunes Canada store to download The Office in hi-def, store the episode on your hard drive and watch it whenever you are ready, in Dolby 5.1 surround sounds (of course). This is happening now and will acceptance will continue to accelerate.

I think that Canadian cable companies resisting broadcasters’ requests for ‘fee-for-carriage’ can learn a thing or two from iTunes and the inevitable world of web enabled television. In an industry where audiences are becoming increasingly empowered to get what they want, distributors have a responsibility to cooperate so that everyone wins. If ABC is able to cooperate with iTunes in terms of distributing Grey’s Anatomy, why isn’t it working for CTV and Shaw or Global and Videotron?

What do you think? Leave your comments here.