British invasion: Apple aims iTunes at U.K.

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Apple's popular iTunes TV download service launched Wednesday in the U.K. with a slate of Viacom and Disney programs that threatens to upset the nascent commercial model of the U.K. broadcasters' own online services (HR 8/30).

"iTunes will kill broadcasters' download-to-own stone dead unless they come up with device strategies like a Freeview-plus model that links download-to-own to a TV set or portable devices," Screen Digest's Arash Amel said.

Apple's Hollywood studio deals, which enable it to offer such series as "Grey's Anatomy" for £1.89 ($3.78) per episode through iTunes U.K., will put pressure on the broadcasters' relationship with the studios.

Channel 4, Five and Sky have put a lot of effort into setting up pay-to-download sites. According to Screen Digest, in 2006 download-to-own services in the U.K. generated £277,000. By 2011, it forecasts that the U.K. download-to-own market will be worth £65 million, of which Apple is predicted to take 80%.
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