by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 31st 2007 8:12am
It's no secret that the entertainment companies have been less than thrilled with the power position wielded by Apple with iTunes. They've tried -- and failed -- to force Apple to change its pricing (even though that sounds quite a lot like price fixing) and they generally seem upset that Apple is getting all the credit for revolutionizing the digital music world, while people look on the big entertainment companies as out of step with what Americans want while struggling to hang on to an antiquated business model. With that in mind, it wasn't all that surprising last month to see Universal Music refuse to renew its contract with Apple, preferring to go on the equivalent of a month to month basis. Universal Music also didn't include Apple in its trial of DRM-free downloads -- which is doubly amusing since it was only following the stringent demands of companies like Universal Music that Apple agreed to use DRM. Now it seems that the separate company NBC Universal is following the lead of its former sister company. The company is refusing to renew its iTunes deal for offering downloadable NBC TV shows. Of course, this news also comes as we inch closer to NBC Universal's own video website, officially named Hulu so hoarding videos for itself may be part of the strategy (which would be typical backwards thinking, but that comes as no surprise). It looks like, once again, we're basically going to have a totally fragmented market for online video. That certainly wouldn't be good for Apple, but it would likely hurt NBC Universal too. In the meantime, though, Apple may be facing a challenge as more companies fail to renew their contracts. Update: Apple seems to believe that NBC Universal needs Apple more than the other way around. Rather than waiting for NBC to pull its shows, Apple has apparently kicked them off.
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