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Disney Ups Video Offerings On iTunes

The Walt Disney Co. has increased the amount of programming for sale on Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes music store to include this week's college bowl games, with more video available later this month from ESPN and ABC news, sports and entertainment.
The Walt Disney Co. has increased the amount of programming for sale on Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes music store to include this week's college bowl games, with more video available later this month from ESPN and ABC news, sports and entertainment.

Disney was the first major studio to offer video on iTunes, which started selling TV programming in October with episodes of ABC TV shows "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives." ITunes launched its video offerings the same day Apple released the iPod video player.

In the latest deal, Disney is offering video of this week's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Nokia Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl and the Rose Bowl. All the football games will be available the day after they air.

Later this month, Disney will offer ESPN's the "Best of the X Games," "SportsCentury" interviews and other programming.

In addition to sports, Disney plans to offer cable programming from its ABC Family group, and programming from the ABC Entertainment and Touchstone Television libraries, including "America's Funniest Home Videos" and the 1970's Saturday morning "School House Rock."

Disney, based in Burbank, Calif., also plans to offer classic animated shorts, including Academy Award-winners "The Three Little Pigs" (1933) and "The Tortoise and the Hare" (1935).

Along with Disney, NBC and CBS sell primetime and classic TV shows through iTunes. ITunes is tightly integrated with Apple's iPod, which is not the only portable video player in the market, but arguably the best marketed.

But while the iPod music player is the leading audio player, the video iPod is still new and not nearly as widely used. Therefore, the networks are buying into its "sexy" image, and assume the device will increase in popularity, experts say.

It's also unclear whether consumers are ready to watch video on the iPod 2.5-inch screen. Apple does not offer a breakdown on what videos are sold through iTunes, for example, how many music videos versus TV shows. Such information would be an indicator as to the willingness of iPod owners to watch TV programming, which sells for as low as 99 cents an episode to as much as $1.99.