CBC, CTV jump on iTunes bandwagon – finally

Little Mosque, Corner Gas, hockey and movies have been added to the long-neglected video section of the Apple media store, though there's no sign of any new shows from Global.

Two of the country’s big three broadcasters have found a home on iTunes, which announced yesterday the addition of programming from CBC, CTV and its partners to the Canadian version of the online music store – offering downloadable versions of Little Mosque on the Prairie, Corner Gas and South Park, among others.

The deal ends years of behind-the-scenes talks between Apple – which owns iTunes and makes the iPod gadgets with which it is paired – and reps from the Canadian industry, who’ve been eager to get their comedies, dramas and logos on the immensely popular site. ‘We’re off to a great start,’ says Eddie Cue, VP of iTunes at Apple.

The deal includes CBC’s Little Mosque, The Rick Mercer Report and the realities No Opportunity Wasted and Dragon’s Den, while CTV is putting up episodes of Instant Star, Degrassi: The Next Generation and Robson Arms.

iTunes.ca is also selling The Sarah Silverman Program, The Hills, South Park, Drawn Together and Avatar: The Last Airbender, which come from Comedy Central and MTV Networks in the US, both of which have close ties to CTV. NHL-branded reruns of old Stanley Cup matches are also in the mix. Downloads of the shows go for $1.99 per episode, the same across-the-board rate used by iTunes in the US.

The selections do not include any new shows from Global or its sister channels. Though its Global National newscast has been available on iTunes since 2005, there is no sign of its scripted programs such as The Best Years, Da Kink in My Hair or the upcoming crime doc True Pulp Murder. The network will ‘seek out more opportunities on this platform,’ according to a statement from Laura Tanner, SVP of digital broadcasting.

The iTunes deal also leaves out any programming from US conventional networks – hits such as Grey’s Anatomy or the CSIs, which are in high demand with consumers but which also present the greatest complications for dealmakers. ‘This might be testing the water,’ says Claude Galipeau, broadcasting consultant and former digital media exec at CBC and Alliance Atlantis. ‘None of these shows is simulcast. It’s really cable and Cancon.’

But Galipeau applauds the deal, both because it puts Canadian-made shows in the spotlight and because US shows, such as Drawn Together, appear to carry the brands of both Comedy Central and The Comedy Network. ‘iTunes has shown itself to be a well-used and at times show-defining platform for TV content and video in general,’ he says, citing the success of The Office. ‘It keeps people in the show if they miss an episode.’

From Playback Daily

CLARIFICATION: This story replaces MiC‘s previous version, which inadvertently omitted mention of CBC’s involvement with iTunes.