Apple’s newest milestone: It says it has sold 200 million TV episodes via iTunes in three years. It doesn’t provide a breakdown, but we will assume that the majority of those sales went to NBC and Disney — NBC has said it accounted for the majority of video sales at Steve Jobs’ store, and last March, Bob Iger said Disney had sold “40 to 50 million” TV shows there.
So what does that mean? In the big picture, in the present tense? Not much, really. Video sales on iTunes have grown much more slowly than music sales did, and they’re not nearly as significant for the networks and studios. If you assume that each of those 200 million went for $1.99, and that the networks/studios keep about 70% of each sale, you’re looking at about $280 million in 36 months. NBC Universal, meanwhile, just recorded $645 million in profit in the last quarter.
Still, that $280 million is almost all profit for Hollywood. And given that the ad business is going to be in the dumps for quite some time, it’s certainly nice to have additional revenue streams. Now you see why Jeff Zucker was willing to make peace with Steve Jobs this summer.