Apple has sold over one million videos on the iTunes Music Store.
Considering the limited video content that's available, combined with the limited availability of the new iPod with video capabilities, that's impressive.
By way of comparison, Apple sold one million songs in the first week the iTMS went live, while it took a mere two days for users to subscribe to one million (free) podcasts. Yet by any metric, going from zero to one million sales is a pretty good month, particularly factoring in that only a very small fraction of iTMS customers own 5G iPod's that will play video.
Percentages say more to come
Apple is staying silent on the percentages of music videos to TV shows and short films it has sold. Nor will it disclose whether more shows are on the way. Yet if recent history is any indication, the shows currently on offer at the iTMS are just the beginning. But strong sales should spur networks to begin offering more content on an on-demand basis.
"This is a new form of distribution that offers incremental revenue and doesn't compete strongly with DVD sales," said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD Techworld. "Networks and studios are learning to think of television more as a commercial product than ephemeral entertainment."
Shortly after Apple released iTunes 4.9 with podcast subscription features, the major networks and mainstream media rushed to start podcasting content on the iTMS. Despite the fact that podcasting had been around for quite some time, it took Apple's entry into the field and promotion of the medium via its ubiquitous iTunes player to get the ball rolling. Similarly, though neither vodcasting (video podcasting) nor video-on-demand are new, Apple's embrace of these technologies, particularly its inclusion of the latter in iTunes 6, has brought both to the mainstream for the first time.
Cautious optimism as rights battle wages
Yet unlike the rush into podcasting, major broadcasters seem to be only slowly, and quite cautiously, entering this market. None of the networks revealed any near-term plans to offer video content via the iTMS.
While CBS offers numerous podcasts - such as highlights from several of its news programs, including 60 Minutes and Face the Nation, as well as popular soap opera fare like Guiding Light - the Tiffany network was quiet on any plans to add shows to the iTMS, noting only that it is in talks with a variety of players and that any announcements on video plans would come on their own.
CBS spokesperson Dana McClintock only said: "We are in a number of discussions with a number of players about offering our content for download or streamed."
Likewise MSNBC, which podcasts several of its popular programs including Countdown with Keith Olbermann and Hardball with Chris Matthews noted that it would not have video for sale any time soon.
"We don't have plans [to sell video on the iTMS] right now," MSNBC spokesperson Ann Keegan told Playlist. "It's something we might pick up and run with in the future, but right now it's not even on our radar."
"It's definitely something that we're looking into. We would like to make something available [via iTunes]," says Comedy Central media representative Aileen Budow. "But we don't have any plans right now."
Nonetheless, Apple keeps its secrets quite well - were you expecting a second all-new iPod to arrive a month after the first? And networks, as CBS' McClintock points out, like to make a splash and generate as much publicity as possible when announcing something new. So although no-one will go on record with plans today, tomorrow is always another day.