NBC Universal cancels its contract to sell television shows through iTunes, claiming a dispute over flexible pricing. News Corp. chief operating officer Peter Chernin echoes those sentiments and goes on record to predict “prickly” negotiations with Apple in the future. And yesterday, CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves told attendees gathered at the Merrill Lynch investor conference: “We like our relationship with iTunes… we’re sort of staying out of the battle.”
So what gives? One word. Hulu.
That’s Hulu, the soon-be-launched joint online video venture between NBC Universal and News Corp.
Hulu will be both a destination site, as well as syndicate content across partner sites including AOL, Comcast, MSN, MySpace, and Yahoo, offering professionally-produced content from News Corp. and NBC Universal properties, along with other content partners. It’s thought that most videos will be streamed and ad-supported, although longer-form programing may also be offered as download-to-own.
Moonves confirmed previous reports that CBS had also been invited to join NBC and News Corp.’s new venture but chose to decline. “I don’t like joint ventures per se,” he told attendees. “I love Peter Chernin [FOX] and Jeff Zucker [NBC]. They’re both very smart, but I don’t like to consult with them on what to do with my programming.”
Instead CBS appears more than happy to consult with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, citing the promotional value of iTunes. “We look at iTunes as much as a promotional vehicle for our shows as a financial vehicle,” he said.