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Apple tables push for TV subscriptions on iPad, seeks 99 cent episodes

Apple had high hopes of delivering an all-you-can-eat buffet of television shows in the form of a subscriptions service by the time its iPad hits the market next month, but opposition from networks has forced the company to adopt Plan B: a push towards lower pricing for a la carte downloads.

In an updated version of its report on Apple's scrambles to secure last-minute content licensing deals for the iPad, The Wall Street Journal cites people familiar with the matter as saying that electronics maker is now asking that television networks agree to drop the price of their episodes to $0.99, down from $1.99 and $2.99.

The concession on Apple's part comes after the majority balked at a more ambitious attempt by company to court its largest network partners into an all-inclusive subscription service, which would have offered iPad users broad access to the catalogs of many of their favorite programs for a set monthly fee, according to the paper.

Still, Apple's struggling to achieve the networks' approval, even with its pared back strategy. People speaking anonymously to the Journal say the content providers are weary of the strategy, fearing it could ultimately hurt their business and jeopardize "the tens of billions of dollars in subscription fees they are paid by cable and satellite companies for their traditional TV networks."

In response, Apple is reportedly trying to convince the networks to make the gamble, arguing that if the price cuts prove successful, it could unlock a completely new market for digital distribution and consumption that could prove just as lucrative, if not more, than their existing deals with cable operators.

"It's also possible TV companies could offer access to their shows on the iPad through applications that would stream the videos, rather than selling them through iTunes," the report adds. "But streaming is often limited by a tangle of licenses between producers and TV networks."

Another potential hurdle Apple faces revolves around the iPad's intentional lack of support for Adobe's Flash streaming media technology, which many content partners use to showcase their multimedia content and serve online ads.

On the bright side, Apple has reportedly made much-need headway with its eBook strategy for the tablet device, as the Journal cites more people familiar with the matter as saying that all of the largest book publishers are prepared to offer catalogs that rival those of Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook platforms by the time the iPad ships on April 3rd.