Wednesday, March 08, 2006, 11:00 am PT (02:00 pm ET)
Apple iTunes to sell discounted access to monthly showsApple Computer's iTunes music and video store on Wednesday took its first step toward a monthly subscription model with a new service called Multi-Pass that lets users buy TV shows on a monthly basis, Reuters reports.
Apple is reportedly launching the service in partnership with Viacom Inc.'s Comedy Central Network, which is rolling out "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" on the service.
iTunes customers will be able to buy the next month's series of 16 new episodes via Multi-Pass for $9.99, or to pay $1.99 per episode. Four episodes air each week and viewers can download each episode after it's been broadcast.
Michele Ganeless, executive vice president at Comedy Central, told Reuters there would be no advertising on the service for the time being, similar to the network's DVD business.
Apple has so far resisted calls from media companies and competitors to adopt a monthly subscription fee favored by the likes of Napster and Real Networks Inc.'s Rhapsody, preferring an a la carte download model where music tracks cost 99 cents and videos $1.99.
Interestingly, a survey recently distributed though Coyote Insight and believed to have been commissioned by either Apple or a potential partner, included several questions about a potential $9.99 monthly subscription service that would apply to iTunes Music Store TV series downloads (though this piece information was withheld from the report).
Apple's introduction of the $9.99 Multi-Pass on Wednesday suggests that the company may have indeed been influential in the survey, which otherwise focused on an iTunes full length feature film service.
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