NBC and Apple Make Nice

NBC and Apple had parted ways over the pricing and packaging of NBC TV shows offered on Apple’s iTunes service. Yesterday, the companies announced that they had made up and come to an agreement for the NBC shows, such as "The Office", to once again be offered on iTunes.

In sales, persistence is probably the most important characteristic to possess. Sometimes you have to let a possible deal simmer a bit before coming back to it. In an interview when the negotiation collapsed last fall, NBC Chair Jeff Zucker said that NBC content accounted for 40 percent of iTunes’ video sales, and that Apple was selling hardware because of the availability of NBC content. At the same time, NBC and Fox were launching Hulu.com, a site featuring full length programs from these networks as well as other content. The upshot is that NBC got variable pricing - $.99 for old shows, such as Dragnet and Adam-12, and as much as $2.99 for HD versions. In short, some give and take, but a deal was completed.

As with any business deal, everyone needs to get something. Many times, one or the other party will get more of what they want when they set out. But it’s not a matter of getting more than the other guy – it’s a matter of getting enough of what you want to be a worthwhile deal for your company or organization. Sometimes it’s money, sometimes market share, sometimes exposure, sometimes being linked to a better known and respected business partner has a lot of value of one party, a relationship that can be leveraged in other discussions.

I can only speculate on what has transpired over the past year. What is clear is that the parties did not give up – there was enough mutual interest there for a deal, and they did not appear to be so far apart that a deal wasn’t possible. Coming with the introduction of new iPods and the new television season, the timing added value for both Apple and NBC.

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