Look out, bears: Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) has once again turned the mobile content market on its head. Thank Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert; fans of Comedy Central's late-night dynamic duo are being given the option to subscribe to downloads of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or The Colbert Report for $9.99 though the iTunes online store. The fee covers a month's worth of shows, or 16 episodes. (Single viewings will also be sold for the usual $1.99 per-video price tag.)
The move marks Apple's first foray into the subscription model for digital downloading, a strategy which has been common among competitors such as Napster (Nasdaq: NAPS ) and RealNetworks' (Nasdaq: RNWK ) Rhapsody. However, unlike those services, where you effectively rent the music, customers own the episodes of The Daily Show that they download via iTunes.
And there's another wrinkle: The downloaded episodes will be completely free of commercials. Uh-oh, TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO ) . Let me explain. Last week, I wrote that the DVR pioneer should breathe easier because Apple's new Mac mini, though blessed with features for storing and playing back digital entertainment, wasn't equipped to record live TV. Now it may not matter. With this deal, the growing iTunes video library, and the emergence of media-savvy PCs like the Mac mini, it's becoming increasingly clear that consumers will someday be able to forgo traditional TV altogether, downloading only what they want, and replaying it commercial-free.
Don't bet on that happening overnight, of course. And why worry anyway? The here and now is much more interesting. Comedy Central's new deal with Apple has the potential to alter the economics of mobile content, again. And that can mean only one thing: Disney (NYSE: DIS ) , CBS (NYSE: CBS ) , NBC, News Corp. (NYSE: NWS ) , and, well, every other content provider on the planet, might also find themselves on notice.
Set the DVR to record. Related Foolishness is coming on:
- Rupert Murdoch is one of many who want to go mobile.
- And no wonder: It's still the king.
- But, in the end, will it be downloads or streaming?
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Fool contributorTim Beyersdoesn't yet have a video iPod. It's on his list, OK? Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what is in his portfolio by checking Tim's Foolprofile. The Motley Fool has an ironcladdisclosure policy.