HBO shows coming to iTunes under new pricing structure?

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HBO, the premium television subsidiary of Time Warner, is reported to have reached an agreement with Apple that will see its hit television programming made available for purchase on iTunes in the next couple of weeks.

Citing HBO executives familiar with the deal, Portfolio reports that Apple has for the first time agreed to a separate and distinct pricing structure for a TV show provider, though it's not quite sure what that arrangement entails.

"One possibility is that HBO programming will have a higher retail price than the flat $1.99 fee Apple currently charges for video content," the publication said. "[A]nother is that HBO will receive a larger cut of the same flat rate than other iTunes content providers receive."

In either case, the deal would present exciting growth opportunities for both parties. HBO, which currently offers an online service only accessible to its television subscribers, would be able to tap a much broader audience in iTunes' 50 million registered users.

Meanwhile, offering HBO hits like "The Sopranos," "Entourage," and "The Wire," could help spur sales of Apple's fledging Apple TV set-top-box, which allows users to rent movies and purchase television shows from the iTunes store for viewing on their big-scren TVs directly from the comfort of their living room sofa.

Any move by Apple to instate a variable pricing structure for television content is likely to draw the attention of NBC Universal. The television studio last fall pulled all of its programming from iTunes amid a bitter feud with Apple in which the iTunes operator refused to allow it to set higher prices for some TV shows sold through service.

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