Battlestar Galactica: Razor Update, No iTunes Downloads?

August 31, 2007

Two Battlestar Galactica updates: First, the DVD of the special Razor movie will be released shortly after it airs on the Sci Fi channel on November 24. The release date is December 5th. You can visit the Sci Fi Channel’s web site where you can vote on which DVD cover you like, and then be presented with a short clip from the movie. The clip shows Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes), the commander of the Battlestar Pegasus, using a knife as a metaphor.

The second news which is really sucky as far as I’m concerned, is that Battlestar Galactica episodes may no longer be available from the iTunes Music Store come 2008 – right when season 4 of Battlestar Galactica is supposed to begin. In a recent New York Times article (thanks SpraugeD) NBC is considering pulling out of Apple’s video download service due to contract negotiations. The shows NBC offers up includes Battlestar Galactica along with reportedly 40% of the television show downloads.

This is annoying because I watched most of Battlestar Galactica season 3 via iTunes. I prefer downloads to streaming for these shows because some of the episodes were good enough that I’d watch certain parts again. I can’t wait for the DVD (which I buy anyway). Will I have to sign up for Sci Fi Channel and a PVR just to get the BSG fix how and when I want it?

What’s really lame is all through the NYTimes article, the old broadcast media folks complain about piracy. And here’s the iTunes Store with a totally legitimate method to get people to pay for digital downloads. It’s almost like they want me to fire up the old BitTorrent next year. So much for NBC’s attempt at stemming piracy!

Update: (Hat tip to JC) Looks like MacWorld has some info on one reason why negotiations broke down – NBC wanted a ridiculous $4.99 per episode. Plus, because stopping NBC at the start of 2008 would have meant leaving viewers in the lurch mid season, Apple is dropping NBC starting this month. Ouch. This smacks of corporate greed. Here’s the Apple press release.

Additional Reading: Paris Lemon, CinemaTech


  1. JC says:

    I think NBC is trying to make Jobs shake in his boots by leaking this info to the press. Try to get a little more leverage in the negotiating room, since they currently have none. I doubt it’s going to work, though; Steve is pretty arrogant when he’s wrong; when he’s right (which is most of the time) he’s downright immutable.

    NBC doesn’t want to give away it’s only legitimate source of online download revenue. It just wants to start charging more for more popular shows, and “bundle” shows that no one wants to buy with shows people want, so that you have no choice but to buy both. They basically want to kill the goose, like they always do. I can see why Jobs doesn’t want this to happen.

    Bottom line: The networks haven’t learned any more than the Music labels that their business models are outdated. Sooner or later, companies like Apple will end up owning the content as well as the distribution, if NBC and others don’t learn to adapt.

  2. webomatica says:

    Hopefully you’re right and this is just a negotiating tactic.

    One can guess that maybe NBC is hoping their shows are popular enough and they can come up with some streaming / download solution on their own web property and they don’t need iTunes. IMHO, that strategy is wrong.

    I’m not going to go to any NBC site and watch their shows – a while back I tried to watch some show that was on ABC I think, and the software locked up my Mac and never installed. I haven’t seen anything that demonstrates that the old broadcasting networks will be able to develop anything as streamlined as Apple or YouTube for downloads or streaming respectively.

    The iTunes solution of a season pass or a one click download is the way to go as far as I’m concerned.

  3. SpragueD says:

    By rights, content producers should have enormous leverage — what they haven’t had until now is a competitive response to the Apple distribution channel and Jobs’ monopoly. Of course they want to set the price on their product — what manufacturer doesn’t? Until now, they were held hostage by Apple’s business model which involves selling content cheaply in order to move hardware (and not cutting the content providers in on a share of that windfall, I think). When Walmart undercuts manufacturers to expand their monopoly people cry “foul” — why should Apple get a pass?

    The timing of this a day or two after the announcements about Hulu is not merely coincidental.

  4. webomatica says:

    Well, SpraugeD, you have a point about content producers obviously wanting to have more control over prices, but I think $4.99 per episode is unreasonable – especially when keeping in mind what the market will realistically bear.

    I was planning on buying these downloads AND purchase the season 4 BSG DVD when it comes out. When you do the math for the whole season it comes out well above the season on DVD which is absolutely ridiculous.

    As for Hulu, certainly, that’s exactly what this is about. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  5. Garrick says:

    What do networks make per viewer or household in the old business model? I bet they make far less than $2 (assuming Apple makes nothing, which is what I understand to be the case).

    How many people are at the same tipping point I am: considering killing my TV? Our household was about to pull the proverbial trigger until we discovered that BSG was not to available on iTunes any longer. This will likely not change our minds. I’m sure there are other (not necessarily) legit ways to get BSG episodes. I checked out a few shows on bit torrent, but was sorely disappointed in the quality. Anyone have any other ideas or options???

  6. webomatica says:

    Well – I don’t really know the figures on how the iTunes TV shows break down but recent news indicated that Apple want to lower the price for a single TV show download to 99 cents (to grow the market), and not surprisingly, the networks don’t care for that idea. This tug of war has a long way to go.

    We don’t have cable and have been relying on Netflix and iTunes downloads for new shows. BSG is the only show that I’d need cable for.

    Truth be told I’m thinking if BSG isn’t on iTunes come 2008 I may have to look into some *ahem* other methods myself.

  7. alc says:

    sign up for – nbc’s new online video venture. i think it is currently still in beta.
    there are short ads, but it’s free, and yes there’s plenty battlestar. (But not Razor, grr)

  8. Stellie says:

    You’re totally right about their piracy complaints. Their deal with Apple was a legitimate way for people to watch their much loved shows, and now they’ve taken that away. I have no cable which means that if I want to watch BSG’s very last season, I’m going to have to engage in some piracy.

    What should be depressing for them is that I was more than willing to pay them for their show.

  9. hupla says:

    i don’t know if this applies to everyone but i think the days of setting your scedule to accomodate the times of your favorite shows is over. it’s no longer the 80′s and cosby’s thursday night. i’m also no longer a little kid with endless time on their hands each night. i’ve grown to expect to see my favorite shows when i want to. usually on a laptop when going to sleep. so.. yeah i agree NBC better catch up one way or another! and Apple producing content? that’s a funny idea, heck, could happen i guess..

  10. Reluctant Pirate says:

    I read a article about how BSG was an incredible bit of tv. So I searched the web looking for somewhere to buy a few episodes. Got bupkis. So I went to, did a search and downloaded 19.4 GB of BSG (all three seasons) for free. I love the show and actually watched all three seasons’ episodes in just one week total! Sure wish I could find a way to give them some money. But oh well. They make their bed. They sleep in it.

  11. LKL says:

    I love BSG! Great show. The forcing us to pirate sux, though. Frakking ridiculous.