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October 14th, 2005

TV Shows from iTunes – The Verdict

So unless you’ve been under a rock, you probably know that the iTunes Music Store now sells TV shows. But before you think you can download episodes of Saved by the Bell note that there are only five to choose from – it’s clearly an alpha release.

I decided to give the whole thing a spin by downloading the two-part pilot of Lost, a show I’m really enjoying and hadn’t seen until the current second season. I bought the episodes for four bucks. Each one was around 200MB for a 45-minute (ish) episode, and took about half that time to download – but I was doing other activities on the internets at the time.

Once the first ep was downloaded, I fired it up and watched it full-screen. The video quality is, ah, not perfect. It’s definitely “good” but not HD or anything of the sort. It’ll look just fine on the wee iPod, but on my 20″ iMac it was equivalent to TiVo’s Basic Quality setting. Acceptable, no more, no less. Sound quality was top-notch with no oddities or anything. So that was good.

After watching both episodes, though, I felt a little weird about the whole thing because part of me really wanted to pony up the $35 and buy the whole season and another part of me didn’t, because the quality wasn’t so hot. Now if I could rent them for half the price, that I would do. Let ’em expire after a week. Then, it’s a buck a show and that’s very much worth it to me. One dollar for a rental, two and you own it. Easy.

I’m not giving up on the concept because it’s a really solid one. Once more shows and networks are on board (like HBO) and the quality is better (which is a given over time), I think Apple will be in a really unique situation. They’ve definitely made the barrier to entry low; now let’s just hope everyone gets on board.

Posted in Consumer Commentary

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