Apple introduced TV show downloads through iTunes UK this week - and critics are already slamming the company over the £1.89 per episode price tag.

UK Mac and iPod users have been searching for a legitimate online destination for the purchase of television shows for some time now, as Windows-backed services from Channel 4, BBC and ITV are already available.

Apple launched its UK television download offering with a slim collection of mainly US-generated shows, including smash hits such as Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives.

Similar series are available in the US, where they cost half as much as the company is charging the UK market. An epsiode of Ugly Betty costs $1.99 in the US (99-pence), but twice as much in the UK market.

Critics are questioning the price, noting that Channel 4 sells its catalogue of television shows for just 99-pence each.

Speaking to The Guardian, Jupiter Research analyst Mark Mulligan observed: "I wouldn't be surprised if they (Apple) had to change their prices soon: we're in a situation where everything is always more expensive in Britain."

In some cases, the cost of an entire series of shows outweighs that of the physical DVD collections available in shops and by online mail order.

Ugly Betty Season 1 costs £29.98 through Amazon UK, or £32.99 from iTunes; Lost season 3 costs £32.99 through iTunes, or £44.98 as a DVD from Amazon.

There are some advantages. Desperate Housewives: Season 3 isn't yet available in the UK on DVD (where it will cost £33.74), but is available through iTunes for £32.99. However, the iTunes collection lacks the extra features available with the DVD released.

Naturally, Apple's prices may reflect demands from content providers, who may be unwilling to cannibalise DVD sales by making better propositions available through iTunes.