These Frequently Asked Questions are not just those asked of me or this site, but about the iTunes Music Store in general. Hopefully, this will cover a lot of the questions about the store that everyone seems to ask.
When will the iTunes Music Store be adding [TV Show] to the store?
This seems to be the most frequent of the frequently asked questions. The short answer is, “I have no freaking idea.” First off, let’s not forget that purchasing television shows from the iTMS is a new concept. As of this writing, the iTMS has been selling television shows for exactly four months. And while this has been a relatively successful venture thus far for both Apple and the networks involved, the very idea of purchasing television online is a new and, by extension, risky venture. If a network spent considerable time and money adding their entire catalog to an untested venture and it failed, it would be a poor decision on the part of the network. The networks realize this and are testing the waters to see if this will succeed. Consider these early days as a proving ground for the concept itself. If and when that succeeds, the networks will add more and more programming, not before then.
Why hasn’t [Existing TV Network] added [TV Show] yet?
Networks are mostly taking a wait-and-see attitude with iTunes. While iTunes has proven that it can really help networks with some shows (like The Office), the networks ultimately are still cautious about what they offer for sale. The demographics of iTunes users likely also plays a factor in determining what is offered for sale. While many people would like to think that iTunes users represent a true cross-section of society, it instead slants towards higher-end demographics in terms of family income and general technology skills and programming decisions may be based on this information.
When will [TV Network] be joining iTunes?
Probably the second most frequently asked question. The most common networks asked about seem to be CBS, FOX and cable networks that seem like they should be more ahead of this particular curve (Discovery Channel, G4, Cartoon Network). To answer the question about those networks specifically, CBS at first appeared not to be interested, but apparently have been in negotiations with Apple. Plus Showtime was recently added, which is a CBS network. Of all of these networks, I’d say CBS is the most likely candidate in the near term. FOX appears to be completely disinterested in the concept. As for the three cable networks, I’ve heard nary a rumor that the three have either been in negotiations or even expressed interest. And that really means nothing. They may show up on iTunes tomorrow. You just can’t call this sort of thing and I don’t have any insider information on this.
When are they going to add Season [X] from [TV Show] to iTunes?
I would image that the most likely reason for not putting all seasons of a series in iTunes all at once is that ultimately, the networks are trying not to pillage existing DVD sales. If you can pick and choose only a few of your favorite episodes, you’re probably less likely to purchase the entire kit and kaboodle on DVD. By rationing them out season by season, I presume they think that you’re more likely to buy the whole lot of them rather than picking individual episodes. Is that the only reason? Probably not. I’m sure there are technical and licensing issues to consider as well, but not pilfering from DVD sales is probably number one on the list.
Will Apple be adding movies to the iTMS?
I’ve commented on this possibility more extensively here. The short answer is “maybe…eventually.”
Why does it take so long for last night’s episode to show up in iTunes?/Why isn’t last night’s episode available first thing next morning?
There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to how and when new episodes show up in iTunes. Sometimes a new episode of Lost will be posted first thing Thursday morning. Other times, it won’t show up until late in the afternoon. If I had to guess, I’d probably be more inclined to pin the blame on the networks rather than Apple. My reasoning for this is simple, I imagine that there’s probably a fixed, consistent length of time needed to encode a movie for download in iTunes. Because that time likely doesn’t vary from movie to movie, the deciding factor must be in how quickly the networks provide an original source to Apple for encoding.
So the question becomes, why don’t the networks provide Apple with a source to encode more quickly? That I can’t answer. Again, you have to remember that this is still in the early phases in the development of selling television shows in iTunes. As time goes on, if it’s determined that it’s more profitable to get source material into iTunes earlier in the day, then the networks will react accordingly.
How many shows are currently available in iTunes?/How many episodes are currently available in iTunes?/What’s the network breakdown of the shows currently available in iTunes?
All of these questions (and more) can be answered by viewing my handy-dandy iTunes Statistics page, where I’m already keeping track of that sort of thing. Word to the wise though, those statistics are not official and are subject to bad math or poor counting, but they should be pretty close. I’ll probably audit them about once a month.