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Murdoch not quite ready to jump on the iTunes bandwagon

Dan Pourhadi

Have you ever watched The Office? Me neither -- not until it showed up on iTunes, I mean. I tried watching it once on TV, but the Siren-like seductiveness of my beautifully-curved TiVo remote took hold of my consciousness, prompting me to change the channel to something a little more...I don't know, entertaining. I don't even remember the episode I was watching. All I can recall thinking was the typical "I don't get it" -- I joined the show five minutes in, and three minutes later there was a commercial break, leaving me grasping for anything that may hint at the purpose of this slow-starting, 100%-dialogue-dependent comedy.

I never bothered watching again...that is, until my brother downloaded an episode from iTunes, nearly relapsed to his old habit of bed-wetting because of laughter (joke!), and forced me to sit down and share with the him the joy of a formerly-British sitcom starring the guy who romanticized the notion of a 40-year-old man living alone with a video game chair and wall-to-wall action figures. The flexibility of watching this show When I Wanted, Where I Wanted developed in me a newfound appreciation for its Genius -- something I can honestly say would never have happened if it was limited to the confines of TV schedule. And, as we've seen, I'm not the only one learning about this comedy-fest via iTunes -- it's gotten so popular because of online downloads, NBC bumped the once-faltering show to a primetime Thursday slot.

Which makes you think things are Going Well -- until, of course, a media exec slaps you in face, chastising you for foolishly believing that content companies are starting to "get it." This time, it's News Corp's holy founder, Rupert Murdoch, who says iTunes and its video distribution deals are "very small-time at the moment," citing the iPod's small display as a reason people may not want to shell out $2 an episode for something they could see for free on TV.

You'd think he'd look at successes like The Office and put the whole concept into perspective: FOX has little to lose by putting its shows on iTunes, and a heckuva lot to gain: revenue, ratings, interest, etc. A Fox/iTunes distribution deal could be huge for both News Corp and Apple -- and the only thing holding it back is Murdoch's RIAA-styled fear of the future (that, or he's got his own scheme in the works, which I certainly wouldn't put past him).

Whatever. I just want my Family Guy.

[via CNet]

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