TV Shows by the Byte With Apple

Worried about missing even one episode of your favorite phony news show? Fret not.

With the Apple iTunes store’s new “Multi-Pass,” users can buy monthly subscriptions to TV shows and have them delivered right to their desktops.

The service was launched on Wednesday in partnership with Viacom’s Comedy Central Network. Fans of the snarky comedy hit “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and its spin-off “The Colbert Report” can buy the next month’s series of 16 new episodes with Multi-Pass for $9.99 or pay $1.99 per episode.

Those who want to download the entire month’s worth of episodes and do the math will notice they can save nearly $22 by buying a Multi-Pass. And Apple and its digital content partners have the benefit of a predictable revenue stream, instead of relying on the whims of fickle or forgetful customers.

“We are excited that ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘The Colbert Report’ are now available to download on the iTunes Music Store,” said Michele Ganeless, executive vice president of Comedy Central, in a statement. “Fans of the most trusted names in fake news can now take Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert with them everywhere they go.”

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has long been critical of the digital download subscription model used by rivals Napster and Real Networks Rhapsody in the past.

But Multi-Pass isn’t the typical digital download subscription service. Normally users who buy flat rate subscriptions no longer have access to their downloaded content if they opt to stop paying monthly subscription fees. Multi-Pass users will “own” a copy of the downloaded material in the same way as purchasers of a physical CD or DVD “own” the product they purchased.

Rumors that Apple would offer a subscription service have been circulating for the past year, initially sparked by Apple’s hiring of Julia Miller from Microsoft’s XBox Live team, a monthly subscription online game service.

Earlier this month the Apple Insider website reported that Coyote Insight had distributed a survey intended to gauge interest in a iTunes subscription-based movie download service. Survey participants were asked if they’d be interested in paying a monthly fee of $9.99 for such a service.

Apple Insider made the logical assumption that apple commissioned Coyote Insight to conduct the survey. It’s also not a huge leap of logic to assume that survey participants expressed interest in the monthly subscription plan.

TV shows and other video content have been available for download on iTunes since late last year. Videos downloaded from iTunes can be played on a computer or Apple iPod portable media player, among other devices.

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