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Scrubs on iTunes?

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As several readers have pointed out, the latest episodes of Scrubs (which started its final *sniff* season last week) are available on iTunes. But how can that be, Scrubs airs on NBC? Yes, yes - but thanks to the magic of large media conglomerates, Scrubs is not actually an NBC show.

Scrubs is owned/produced by Disney (which owns ABC), via their Touchstone Television division ABC Television division, meaning they are not part of the NBC Universal contract with iTunes. This is why it took so long for Scrubs to appear on iTunes in the first place (fellow Scrubs fans will remember how mad we were at iTunes/ABC over this issue). Now, in this final seventh season, things become a bit more complicated; NBC now shares profits with Scrubs (before they didn't get anything from syndication or DVD sales), as a condition for renewal, and you can watch full episodes on NBC's website (which you could not do before), but this is still an ABC show in terms of iTunes arrangements. It is my understanding that iTunes contracts are with the studios that produce the shows, not the networks that air the shows - which is not always the same thing.

For example, NBC Universal owns/produces the show House, which airs on FOX. Thus, the current season of House in unavailable on iTunes. Conversely, FOX owns/produces My Name is Earl, for NBC, and like Scrubs, current episodes are available on iTunes. Weirdly enough, Ugly Betty, which is now also fully owned by NBC (because the chairman and head of programming for NBC is the owner of Reveille, which produces Ugly Betty and The Office, among others) does have its new episodes on iTunes - only because I assume they signed an agreement with Apple before NBC bought the company.

Of course, if the WGA does indeed strike, not much of this will matter anyway, because none of our new shows will be on TV or iTunes for us to watch. This concludes today's lesson in Television Business in the Digital Age.







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