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‘Friends’ deal done

Series part of WBTV pact with iTunes

Steve Jobs has made some new “Friends.”

Warner Bros. Television — which had been one of the last major TV studios to resist selling its wares on Apple’s iTunes — has made a deal with Apple to place several skeins on the download service.

Included among the titles added early Tuesday are the first season of “Friends,” which is being sold at a discounted bulk rate of $27.99 for a full season of 24 episodes; individual episodes are priced at the usual $1.99.

Deal reps the first time a TV studio has launched programming on iTunes without any connection to a broadcast or cable network.

In what could be a sign of things to come, WBTV also is letting consumers buy the busted pilot for “Aquaman.” Project had been considered a shoo-in for the WB’s fall sked but didn’t make the cut for the CW, the net replacing the WB and UPN in September.

While NBC Universal-owned Bravo offers pilots and episodes of projects from the 1980s and ’90s, the “Aquaman” offering marks the first time a studio has put a recent failed pilot online for purchase. NBC U has allowed a pirated copy of WB pilot “Nobody’s Watching” to remain on YouTube and last week decided to revive the show for NBC (Daily Variety, July 14).

Other WBTV skeins added to iTunes are animated classics “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons”; sci-fi cult fave “Babylon 5”; and compilation episodes of Fox sketch comedy “Mad TV.”

Until Tuesday, WBTV’s biggest existing digital partnership had been with In2TV, the AOL-branded service that lets consumers stream episodes of the studio’s older skeins for free. Warner’s recent off-net deals for “Two and a Half Men” included provisions that will let local stations stream episodes of the skein on their respective Web sites.

WBTV joins Touchstone Television, 20th Century Fox TV, NBC U Television Studio and CBS Par Network Television on the list of studios feeding content to iTunes. Biggest holdout now is Sony Pictures Television, which so far has just one show on iTunes, “The Shield.” That skein is produced in association with Fox TV Studios.

Separately, NBC U has opened a new iTunes microsite tied to its digital cable net Sleuth. Ministore is selling such NBC U-owned properties as “Miami Vice” and “The A-Team.”

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