Question of the week: is iTunes’ TV and film pricing mental?


So, I have a little idea at the weekend. Why don’t I get nice, HD quality episodes of Community? Got them already but not in HD, so I should show the love, shouldn’t I?

Of course, Community is only available on import DVD box set in the UK and not on Blu-Ray at all, so that means turning to the iTunes Store. You want to have a guess how much the entire first season of Community costs in HD on the iTunes Store?

Go on. A season of Heroes on Blu-Ray costs £35 and that’s 1080p, not 720p like on the iTunes Store. So how much do you reckon?

£62.25. I kid you not.

Now I love Community. I’m one of its biggest evangelists. But £62.25? FRO.

Now, this isn’t the only act of heinousness in terms of pricing on the iTunes Store in the UK, particularly when it comes to HD. Renting a HD movie costs £4.99. When you can buy a HD movie at all, you’re looking at £12.99. A little cheaper than Blu-Ray, but when you consider you don’t get many extras in those iTunes Extras and the resolution is lower than Blu-Ray, that’s not great.

Now let’s turn our attention to SD. You want to buy an entire season of Wonder Woman on DVD? Yes, Wonder Woman. That’ll be £30.99 – reduced to £5.99 on Amazon. That’s about right, huh? How much on iTunes? £19.99. Ouch. Yes, you’re spared the inconvenience of storage and having to wait a day or two (okay, a fortnight by Royal Mail at the moment), but £14’s worth of inconvenience? I can wait.

So this week’s question is:

Is iTunes pricing mental? Are the TV companies and Apple in a fairyworld of their own devising if they think people should be paying these kinds of prices? Or are they actually reasonable prices for what’s being offered?

As always, leave a comment with your answer or a link to your answer on your own blog

  • SK

    Is Community funnier in high definition, then?

  • SK

    (I’m exactly the wrong person to be answering this question, as I am very, very loath to pay any money for a thing (as opposed to a service) unless I’m actually getting a physical thing in exchange for my hard-earner readies. So no matter what iTunes were charging, I just wouldn’t be their market.)

  • Mark Carroll

    I don’t mind paying reasonable amounts for things like DVDs where I have a real physical thing wholly under my control for which the fair use rights are more obvious; they cost real money to manufacture and distribute and I have a version that doesn’t feel fragile. But for electronic media I am very reluctant to pay them a whole lot more than distribution costs. I was just noticing this with e-books, actually: now I have a Kindle, I’m happy to read out-of-copyright free books on it, but several dollars for a e-novel? No. So, given that I don’t pay anything non-trivial for such non-tangibles anyway, iTunes sure isn’t going to interest me with those prices. For me, electronic media is more attractive for something I think of as being more a “rental” thing, like Netflix’s online streaming. (I fear I went a bit off-topic, sorry!)

  • iTunes priceing IS mental – for anything. I think I’ve paid for maybe one classical album (that I couldn’t buy in CD format anywhere), and three single tracks. Plus one music video. the most recent of these was probably at least two years ago.
    I too am a physical object person and I doubt I will shift away from that much — I have a small eMusic subscription which i use to pick up one-off independent label tracks i hear on the radio, but otherwise I don’t do downloading or streaming even.
    iTunes can basically get away with even considering charging these prices because it is still – for better or worse – the market brand that dominates for those who bother to pay for their entertainment downloads.
    It is a fairytale land though, and I’m not sure how sustainable it is long term when you have other sources (il/legal downloading and residual purchasing by those of us who still prefer physical objects – and why wouldn’t we when they’re SO much cheaper).

  • graeme

    It’s not mental because people obviously pay it, the real question is; why are people idiots?
    They have a massive market share, people will instinctively go to itunes and assume it’s cheap because other things are cheap, and not even think to check elsewhere.
    The first comment is the most poignant though, there is no reason to get it in HD, especially if you already own it.

  • If your copy of Community is
    a) not great quality and you might not necessarily be able to see and hear everything clearly
    b) free, and therefore no money has gone to the producers of the fine work being enjoyed
    You might want to get a better, paid-for copy. If given a choice between SD and HD, why go for SD? Sure, it’s cheaper, but once you’re used to HD, everything SD looks a bit murky and rubbish – like most things on Five, for example – so you start to want HD for everything.