Apple on Thursday said all four of the major networks are offering prime-time television shows on iTunes in high definition. In addition, the company said more than 1 million HD episodes have been sold since the format launch last month.
Prime-time shows recently added in HD include Grey's Anatomy and Lost from ABC, CSI and CSI: Miami from CBS, Bones and Prison Break airing on Fox, and Heroes and The Office from NBC Universal. Apple has a total of 70 prime-time comedies and dramas available on iTunes.
"With over 200 million episodes sold, iTunes customers have proven they love watching television on their computer, iPod, iPhone, and TV with Apple TV," Eddy Cue, Apple VP of Internet services, said in a statement.
The amount of HD content sold through iTunes is significant, given the lackluster attention consumers have been giving the Blu-ray high-definition DVD format. Studies have found that most people are satisfied with the picture quality of standard DVDs and are unwilling to spend more for HD players and disks.
The online video market, on the other hand, is expected to explode to a record $4.5 billion in sales by 2012 from $1.2 billion this year, according to In-Stat. The analyst firm, however, believes companies that offer a flat monthly fee, such as Netflix, will eventually dominate the purchased/rental video market.
Apple sells TV episodes for $1.99 each, and bumps up the price a dollar for HD programs. Many series offers a season-pass option that allows customers to purchase an entire season at a discounted price. Shows bought through iTunes can be viewed on a PC or iPod, or streamed to a digital TV using Apple TV hardware.
HD programs now available on iTunes include ABC's Brothers & Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, Grey's Anatomy, Life on Mars, Lost, Private Practice, Samantha Who?, and Ugly Betty. CBS programming includes CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, NCIS, and Numb3rs. Fox shows include Bones, House, Prison Break, and Sons of Anarchy, which airs on FX. NBC shows include 30 Rock, Heroes, Kath & Kim, Knight Rider, Law & Order: SVU, Life, Lipstick Jungle, My Own Worst Enemy, and The Office, and Sci Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica and Eureka, and USA Network's In Plain Sight, Monk, Psych, and The Starter Wife.
Along with television shows, Apple offers 600 movies in HD out of a total of 2,500 films.