iTunes downloads TV (at last)

iTunes has finally made local and international TV shows available to Aussie user for download, at a cost of $2.99 each. The ABC, Nine Network, Disney Channel, MTV and ABC Studios (US) are supplying select shows.

They include Desperate Housewives, South Park, Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs, Summer Heights High, Sea Patrol, McLeod’s Daughters, and Canal Road. Some shows are already available for free on Nine and ABC sites.

A key to the success of the shows will no doubt hinge on how quickly they become available. Hopefully as soon as they have aired. Some shows can be purchased by the season: series four of Lost retails for AU$41.86 while all eight episodes of Summer Heights High can be obtained for AU$21.99.

TEN currently offers free downloads of the most recent episodes of series including Bondi Rescue, Good News Week, How to Look Good Naked and Neighbours.

In the US iTunes users can download shows for $1.99 and share them on five authorised computers -but they don’t burn to DVD.

Source: CNet


  1. For me, missing ads is the last thing i consider when downloading shows. I would be more than happy to watch the shows on aus tv if they came out within the week of USA, and didn’t run late or shaft shows consistantly.

    An example: When i watched prison Break on channel 7 (season 1, season 2 and half of season 3) after the season finale i would go onto the internet and look at discussion boards and other sites with info about the show, but as soon as fox broadcasted the next seasons episode, i would avoid it cause of spoilers. I know that i thought that people who couldn’t wait 2 weeks were impatient for these shows, but when spoilers are widely distributed, and how much i use the internet, i don’t want to be behind. I can’t imagine how low the next episode of PB will rate in aus cause of their delay. Remember when 10 delayed Jericho (well the 2 eps they aired last year then brought back this year), more than half the audience was gone.

  2. Don’t worry, the quality is perfect on BT.

    My point about DVDs being released 1 year later was specifically from the season premiere. Seeing it usually takes 9 months to air a whole 22 episode season, 1 year after the season premiere is about right.

  3. If I sold my kid, quit my job, sold the studio and got rid of my girlfriend I might be able to find the time to watch that much TV online, I like Aussie TV, dont have many probs with it, networks cant keep everyone happy, Im not that concerned if I miss a show, I know I’ll see it in the end, your right bro, we do have different viewing habits nothing wrong with that :). I spend more time rendering and mastering and while the HD is churning away I come here and read and speak a bit of crap.
    And box sets a year after? not these days, usually a month or two after, even Aus us following that example these says (i.e Underbelly)
    Agree to disagree, about what Im not sure, all I said was people shouldnt complain about quality when they get things for free, what you choose to do with your 100 bucks a month is your biz 🙂

  4. Hmm. I agree with other comments. That is a lot of quota used for a lot of money spent when you could just go buy the season for $30 at Big W or JB Hifi and have them forever. Not to mention being able to watch them anywhere.

  5. a) the DVD sets of TV shows doesn’t come out until at least a year after the US season premiere. I simply can’t wait that long and have every man and their dogs spoil it for me year round with spoilers.

    b) I pay good money for internet access to watch “free TV” online. $100 a month in fact. Most of my download quota goes to downloading shows. If Foxtel/Seven/Nine/10/ABC/SBS can think of away to get me the shows I want to watch, they can have that $100 a month, until then the ISPs can reap the rewards.

    c) When TV producers make QUALITY TV shows (think Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Simpsons, Summer Heights High) am I more than happy to reward them and me by buying their box sets.

    We’re obviously two very different types of TV viewers, and I for one LOVE channel bit torrent. I’m glad your model works for you.

  6. All I said is I don’t understand people complaining about illegal downloads and poor quality, not just here, but on Demoniod, Pirate Bay, the places I check out.
    I don’t mind the ads, because its an area I work in and like to find out what else is going on, as far as saying I should download more illegal stuff instead of watching it on FTA, well I got money, if I really want to watch something, I buy the DVD or order it from the states. Spending hours upon hours having your computer downloading around the clock just to watch a TV show is a waste to me, when you can easily lay down 50 bucks and own it top notch quality for life and you pay your respects to the people who actually made the show for ya.
    Why are people so obsessed with having things for free and terrified of commercials? Its FTA!! You don’t have to pay for it and still some are not happy!!

  7. fangera, when a free and illegally downloaded TV show is much better quality then the payed version, that is worth mentioning.

    FYI, I haven’t heard anyone complain about the quality of a bit torrent show, they are almost always perfect digital copies.

    Also, if you’re having trouble watching more than 2 hours of TV a day (still quite a lot of TV), then maybe you should try bit torrent/iTunes. You’d be saving yourself from sitting through a whole 32 minutes of commercials. More time for you to find jingles work..whatever that means. Not to mention the fact you won’t have to wait up to 2 years for your favourite shows to air on TV. You can also watch them at the time of your choosing, an important fact for those with kids.

    Just because you don’t understand something, doesn’t make it a waste of time.

  8. I never understood how people can download things for free(illegally or legally) and then complain about the quality. Do they expect integrity from there Online Media Pirates?
    Physical Media wont be around for much longer.
    In the uber geek internet circles downloads may be cool, most the circles I run in are more social than habitual, who’s got time to download season after season of stuff of the net let alone watch it!! Between work, find jingle work and doing it, kid, family, GF, friends. Man I’m amazed I get to watch even two hours of TV a day.

  9. Too little, too late, as itsross said, is exactly right.

    $299? Give me a break! Episodes are $1.99 in the US (that’s AUD$2.08 at today’s exchange rate) and in the US you get a discount for buying an entire season. Not so here.

    Going by the 30-second samples, the encoding resolution and quality is woeful (especially on the Australian stuff – preview bits of Canal Road and know that a five-year-old could do a better video encode than that!) and thanks to the DRM you’re stuck sitting at your desk watching it on the computer anyway (or else on a tiny 2.5″ screen on your iPod).

    Fangera, I dispute the “consistent and reliable quality” argument, unless painfully low quality is someone’s idea of consistency. I’ve never downloaded anything from BitTorrent sites that looked that bad.

    A lot of people still prefer physical media – and I’m one of them. Physical media that gives you the best possible quality, gives you booklets and cover art and sleeve notes, and most importantly gives you something tangible and re-sellable for your money. iTunes’ Australian pricing is a joke – always has been for music, and now for TV shows as well. If they want to get serious about it, it needs to be priced at a level MARKEDLY cheaper than the same thing on physical media.

    And itsross is on the money once again about BitTorrented TV shows now being close to mainstream. I’d actually argue (and I have for a while now) that in fact they’ve been mainstream for a good long time. The trading of DVDs of TV episodes amongst my wide circle of friends has been rampant for a couple of years now.

  10. Also, iTunes lets you play their content on upto 5 computers, and you can reset those 5 registered computers once a year by emailing them (ie if you sell an old computer and forget to deauthorise that computer as one of your 5, you can reset the count and reauthorise your 5 computers one by one.

  11. @benno give it 10 years and I’m sure the struggling tv industry will finally work out a model which works for all TV viewers. Maybe something like $60-100 a month for “all you can download” TV. Seems steep maybe, but people happily already pay that for Foxtel.

    I feel that the TV industry is going through the same phase the the music industry went through 10 years ago went Napster started giving away music. Bit torrented TV shows are starting to become quite mainstream (when my computer illiterate family members are asking about how to work bit torrent, you know its mainstream).

    Now in the US you can download all the music you want for $15 a month. Australia is of course way behind, but I’m sure we’ll see this in Australia soon. And maybe 10 years away we’ll see this happening for TV shows.

    But the fact remains, $3 for 20-40 minutes of once off viewing is too much for me, and probably for most people.

  12. About time!

    Just checked it out and right now “limited” is an understatement but with time I hope more shows get added at a lower price.

    I know it’s a DL service but I wonder if a deal can be done to post DVD copies?

    Guess just easier to go into Kmart or online to Amazon.

  13. I really don’t think the service was made to download full seasons, if you really love a show and you’re a fan you don’t download it and pop it on a burnt DVD, go out and spend 30 bucks fcol!!
    If you miss a show, then you can watch it here, for all those whining people who claim they don’t play the last two episodes of a season? Here ya go, you will get consistent and reliable quality (instead of downloading 700 meg and realizing its an awful copy).
    I live by itunes and haven’t walked into a physical CD store in about a year lol, so getting TV shows on here will make life a whole lot easier.

  14. Yeah good point itsross, but the cost is never going to be so low that it will make taping the show not worth it. Another question is will the episodes be on offer within a few days of the US screening, or wait until Australia screens it, assuming that the networks do not ‘fasttrack’ practically all shows from the American fall-spring season- but i can’t see that happening.

    But i am cautious of the drm of these types of sites, cause i have once bought a $20 prepaid music voucher – not itunes, and they let you download the songs with licences. The licences are stored on the computer, but not with the song, so when i have changed my computer, the music is unreadable. It might prevent some people from sharing the songs, but it certainly has meant that i won’t buy digital music again until this is fixed up, just hard copy music which doesn’t have that problem (and no i don’t pirate music, cause there is no contemptuous attitude from the record companies, or anything of the like compared to Aus tv). I’m not sure if iTunes music has that problem or not.

  15. @benno the thing is, for me at least, music is something I keep forever, TV is something I watch once and then forget about. Maybe iTunes could offer a subscription model where you pay less for a one time viewing.

  16. I can’t see it being less than the cost of a song, but i agree that $2.99 per episode where you would download it multiple times is a bit pricy. Also, i prefer to download shows and burn them to a rewritable dvd and watch it on tv, which the new system will not allow. But i suppose it is a step in the right direction.

  17. Also, re: the Ten shows you mentioned in your article. Bondi Rescue, How to Look Good Naked and Neighbours can only be streamed; Good News Week can be streamed or downloaded as a vodcast.

  18. The most interesting thing about all this is that Nine are offering a show called Urban Magic. I’ve never heard about or seen this show *at all*. A quick Google reveals only that the magician was signed to Nine in February ’06.

    This means either:
    1) Nine are premiering it on iTunes before they do so on free-to-air, or
    2) forget late-night/early-morning timeslots and HD multichannels: *iTunes* is the new dumping ground.

    Although the former sounds like good marketing to me, I suspect the latter is the real reason for dumping Urban Magic on iTunes: Nine might be able to recoup costs better through $2.99 downloads than through FTA broadcast.

    David, could you ask Nine if Urban Magic has aired; if it hasn’t, will they air it and when; why did they put it on iTunes instead of on Nine; etc?

  19. Too little, too late. Charging as much as $72 for season 1 of Scrubs is a rip off, when I can get it for $30 at JB HiFi, or free elsewhere.

    They’re going to have to get the price down around the sub-99 cent mark for this thing to ever take off. The fee has to be some small that it isn’t worth me walking to my PVR and setting up the recorder, so small it isn’t worth spending 5 minute for it search for it on Pirate Bay, so small it isn’t worth going out to the store and buy a ‘real’ version on DVD, yet they have to find a fee which also makes them more than they would otherwise get through advertising. I think 99 cents would satisfy all these requirements.

    Until then I’ll be getting much higher resolution videos for free elsewhere.

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