What's A Fair Price For A Season Pass?

Buying a season pass on iTunes is an easy and legal way to keep up with some of your favourite shows. But what's a reasonable price to pay for that access?

iTunes offers the option to purchase individual episodes of TV shows, which can be useful if you just want to cherry-pick a few favourites, or legally catch up with something you missed when it was broadcast. However, if you know you want to experience a show entirely via iTunes -- perhaps because that suits your schedule better or because the show isn't actually on air in Australia -- you can also purchase a whole season at a discount or get a 'season pass', which lets you download a whole season for a fixed up-front price, downloading new episodes as they became available.

Want an episode of Top Gear? No worries, that'll be $2.99. Want the whole of season six? That's $32.89, (and a fair chunk of your download limit, unless you're with iiNet which doesn't meter iTunes store downloads). There's no bargain for buying the whole season: with 11 episodes, they still work out at $2.99 each.

The question of whether you should get some kind of discount for your loyalty is a vexed one. For instance, Ten's news panel comedy Good News Week also offers individual episodes for $2.99 each. A season pass costs $76.99 for an as yet unspecified number of episodes, something which hasn't proved too popular with many of the reviewers leaving comments on iTunes, who have noted that earlier seasons could be purchased for $15.99. It was worse; initially, the pass was priced at $92.99.

Of course, if you want to save money, you could skip iTunes entirely and watch episodes on the Good News Week site. However, that has its own limitations: only the last few weeks are available, and episodes are broken up into separate sections. If your connection isn't running at a decent speed, it can also be a disjointed viewing experience. Paying on iTunes definitely delivers a smoother experience.

In the case of Good News Week -- a show drawing on current events -- a DVD release seems unlikely, so iTunes is the only legitimate purchase option. In the case of drama or comedy, a DVD release is much more likely, and will often prove to be a cheaper option.

For instance, a single season of 30 Rock costs $29.99 on iTunes. A quick hunt online tracks down a new copy of a three-season box set for around $60. And for that, you get actual packaging and a much higher-resolution copy. Admittedly, what you don't get is immediate availability; DVDs generally don't get released until after a show has finished broadcast, though there are sometimes exceptions with overseas shows.

TV production needs a revenue model, and paying for a season pass is one obvious way to do that without resorting to downloads (however much we like to do that). But the approach on iTunes still lacks consistency and (in many instances) decent value for money.

What seems like a reasonable season pass price to you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

    I'll give them $1 per episode, and they can play me a 30-60 second ad at the beginning.

    $60+ for a season pass, and you can only access episodes after they've been on FTA TV is just nuts.

    It's worse for older series which are still priced at that level but are now in the weekly section of a video library. (ie: Entourage)

    To be honest, I've never (directly) paid for TV in the first place, and just because it's on iTunes I'm not about to start.

    And I sure as hell wouldn't pay anything more than $30 for a season.

    I wouldn't pay more than $1 an episode. iTunes is a rip-off.

    Here's a concept:

    http://vodo.net/pioneerone

    Getting the viewers to fund production.

    $1 an episode, I'd be interested in that.

    13 episode season should never cost more then $13 and if I'm paying in advance, I think a nice thank you would be nice (throw in episode/extras for free or provide a loyalty discount).

    What these people seem to be missing is that it is all about the numbers. Make it cheap enough, make it easy enough and more people will take to it. Make it to expensive (or even restrict it with things like restrictive DRM) and people will leave it (for the BTTV option)

    Sure you need 5 people to buy a season at $13 instead of 1 @ $60, but you're more likely to get more people paying the lower price then you are the higher one.

    This is an emerging model, trend nicely, cause people don't pay for free-to-air ;)

    i think itunes paying you $76.99 to endure a whole season of GNW is ridiculous, i'd want at least a hundred!

    $76.99! What the hell???? You could almost buy a PVR for that much and record it yourself!

    I watch most of the overseas tv shows (that we don't get here or get late) and pay .2c an episode for HD. I can choose to either download or stream it.

    There is no way I would pay $3 for an episode of anything. I think the previous posters are right. Maybe $1 but that would bit it.

    No idea... Seriously, they make the show with a budget from airing it on TV, any second sale should be exactly that, They need to rethink the second tier sales as pure/more profit. If the price was right more people would subscribe/ watch it live etc and get a bigger following.

    You need to excuse iTunes as they are just out to make more money in general. Bring on Hulu type of thing made by the production companies for the production company. A time will come and iTunes will have shot itself in the foot with all these mechanisms...

    I'd pay $1 for a show I could have watch for free & if it was HD, or nothing if it was ad supported.

    lol, they really are idiots if they think that a pricing model like that will work.

    Just wait till apple try to move to cloud based delivery and start cramming iAds into everything you buy.

      1. Apple don't set the price. The owners of the content set the price.

      2. Apple is already doing cloud delivery and is making no attempt to do ad-insertion, unline SBS, Yahoo 7 etc.

      As I am speaking from about 3 years in the future from your posting:

      We are currently having a Senate inquiry into the difference between pricing in US and Australia.

      Apple have suggested that the price in Australia is based on what may be outdated business models by the content owners.

      Cloud based TV is quite common. ABC & SBS have the most complete online content of all the stations.

      SBS inserts ads into their stream, as do the commercial channels. ABC doesn't.

      Apple offers streaming directly to the AppleTV and is totally ad free. The season purchase is also applicable to the AppleTV streaming service.

      Download limits of 500GB are quite common. So the download issue has changed.

      THe remaining issue is price - and the copyright owners have a lot to answer for.

    $76.99...tell 'em they're dreamin'!

    i thought you could podcast full episodes of season 1, but i can't remember

    anyone else remember?

    I don't thin GNW is worth $76.99. Its a great show and I watch it sometimes and I laugh, but $77? No. Not even for Paul!

    I think the point though is that you are paying for it in iPod/iPad format, yes? I could be wrong, but you cant legally rip your DVDs to iPod format, correct? So even if DVDs were available, it isn't a viable option for iPod/iPad users. You can't even watch the eps on the TEN site through the iPad because iPads don't support flash and Channel 10s webplayer is flash.

    So the only option you have is to turn to itunes to legally get a copy onto your media device. I'm guessing TEN knows this and so is trying to milk it for all its worth while the iPad still has its "ooh ahh" factor going for it.

    since when have they changed format? i subscribed to full free podcasts before but they've stopped that? i would say to combat that just get the RSS feed off the site and add it to itunes to automatically download, but then i saw that they cut it up into chunks

    No you can't legally change file format. It is still illegal to rip a cd to mp3 in the UK. But iTunes even encourages it! Plus it says you can burn an mp3 to a disc too, which if you convert it to play on cd players, is also illegal!
    However, I don't think you would actually be prosecuted for it.

    A season pass is a riduculus amount of money. I thought $35 was bad, but $90 :o
    You could by several copies of the dvd for that price!

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