Steve Jobs alters iTunes download prices

For years, Steve Jobs had a simple message for Hollywood: It’s my way or the highway.

But in recent weeks, he seems to have adopted Burger King’s mantra: Have it your way.

The Apple CEO and his chief lieutenants had consistently maintained that their price point for videos on iTunes — $1.99 for TV shows, $9.99 for library movies and $12.99 for new release pics — was the best offering for consumers. Studios, they asserted, should eagerly sign up to get a 70% wholesale cut of that.

Though some providers, including Disney, CBS and MTV Networks, agreed, others held back, insisting they needed higher wholesale rates and more flexible consumer pricing.

After a standoff that lasted more than two years, Jobs has blinked.

Two weeks ago, every remaining major studio agreed to sell new-release pics on iTunes. The reason? Apple hiked the wholesale rate to make downloads just as profitable to studios as DVDs.

On the TV side, Apple signed HBO last week by bending on retail prices — hourlong episodes of shows like “The Sopranos” cost $2.99, $1 more than anything else on the service.

NBC U pulled its shows from iTunes last fall after it demanded — but was denied — the ability to similarly raise its prices. But if Apple extends the same flexibility to broadcast nets that it has to the pay cabler, skeins like “Heroes” and “Battlestar Galactica” could be back soon.

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