Cord cutters who’ve left cable and satellite behind will be happy to learn that Comcast (s cmcsa) has agreed to continue licensing NBC content to digital distribution rivals like iTunes in order to convince the government to approve its acquisition of the TV network. That’s not the only good news, though, as the terms of the deal could see NBC content finally come to Apple TV (s aapl) as $0.99 rentals.
NBC is one of the holdouts from Apple’s plan to offer $0.99 rentals of individual TV show episodes to users of its streaming-only Apple TV. ABC (s DIS) and Fox (s NWS) were Apple’s original network partners, with NBC refusing to participate on the grounds that such a low price point would “devalue [their] content,” according to former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker. Zucker has since left NBC, and there’s reason to believe NBC’s new owners might be more amenable to Apple’s rental scheme.
While the company wasn’t told specifically that it had to offer content at any particular price, Comcast could be eager to join Fox and ABC in an effort to show federal regulators it’s serious about not overstepping its tightly-defined boundaries.
Even if 99-cent NBC rentals don’t come to Apple TV, the deal struck between NBC and federal regulators carries a couple of conditions cord cutters will definitely benefit from. First, Comcast is forbidden from interfering with online video services using its broadband network, and it has to continue to offer Internet services outside of a cable TV bundle with broadband download speeds for around $50 a month.
Finally, Comcast isn’t able to pull NBC content from iTunes as easily as the network did in the past, when Apple wouldn’t agree to price increases for licensed shows. It’s not a guarantee you’ll always be able to get 30 Rock from the iTunes Store, but it’ll make Comcast think long and hard before attempting a similar stunt in the future.
As Ryan pointed out when the terms of the deal originally came to light, the deal isn’t quite as favorable to online video distributors as some would have you believe. But for companies like Apple that have an existing licensing relationship with NBC Universal, the terms are much more beneficial. And that’s good news for Apple customers, too.
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