You'd have to be fairly cut off from media buzz if you haven't noticed how many companies are talking about digital video plans, but even the most isolated among us must suspect that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) continues to be the superstar in the arena. Through iTunes, Apple continues to find ways to offer video to its iPod faithful. The latest push includes music video that provides exclusive package deals to customers.
Not long ago, Fool contributor Tim Beyers discussed Apple's offering of Comedy Central's well-known The Daily Show, available on iTunes both a la carte and through season subscription. In a similar fashion, Apple offers General Electric's (NYSE: GE ) NBC's Saturday Night Live on both a per-episode and per-season basis. An example of the potential here, of course, was made clear by viral phenomenon Lazy Sunday. While many of us would probably argue whether it was smart for NBC to play hardball with video sharing site YouTube, one can see how it boded well for Apple to sit quietly on the sidelines, making that clip available in its archive for a fee.
The Associated Press reported on Apple's offering of higher-margin music video content to its users. Apple has been peddling music videos for quite some time, of course. Now, though, it will offer more exclusive content through iTunes. What we're talking about here is the equivalent of "video albums" for those hardcore fans who have it all -- yet crave more. The article focused on a Tori Amos video album retailing for $24.99 on iTunes. (Each video single is available for $1.99 a pop.) It's pricey, yes, but it's also exclusive and represents the type of content that die-hard fans would likely shell out cash to obtain.
It's arguable that video hasn't been all that exciting since MTV's heyday, and it's clear that packaging digital content in new and innovative ways represents new hope in the face of slowing "old-fashioned" CD sales. And of course, Apple appears to be at the forefront of this type of product push, with these iTunes-only video albums, described as six or seven videos packaged together that haven't been released as hold-in-your-hand collections.
As much as everybody likes to talk about Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) video fare, not to mention Amazon's (Nasdaq: AMZN ) plans, the truth is, Apple is still not just talking the talk -- it walks the walk. Given Apple's head start, it seems difficult to imagine that its rivals could break in and gain quite the cache that Apple has already built.
The digital content revolution is still in its early stages, but for now, Apple's still the one to watch -- and, of course, the one to beat.
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.