I was going to refrain from commenting on the news that iTunes is now offering TV downloads in Canada, but, in the end, I just couldn't help myself. Being one of the few people left on the planet who isn't an iPod user (and thus, not an iTunes user), I could care less what TV programming is offered for download via the site. However, I wonder if offering only a small amount of mainly Canadian content (including NHL games) is more insulting to Canadians than it is a step in the right direction.
I don't mean to insult Canadian TV broadcasters, because some really good shows are produced and created in Canada. Degrassi, for instance, is a show that, even in its original, 1980s version, attracted a huge U.S. fan following. Rick Mercer could be considered our own, Canuck version of Jon Stewart, and lots of people love him. And of course, as stereotypes would have it, the majority of Canadians love their hockey. So the content on iTunes.ca, which includes shows like Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie, plus NHL hockey games, will likely appeal to some viewers. But there aren't any cool primetime offerings, like Desperate Housewives, House, or Grey's Anatomy...the kinds of programming that people would want to watch on-the-go, and, more importantly, the kinds of programming that people in the U.S. get through iTunes. Let's face it: of the few people who actually watch our homegrown programming, will they really be so inclined as to want to download a copy to watch on their iPod?
Perhaps it's the media's fault (myself included) for hyping the news that TV downloads are now available at iTunes Canada so much that it appears to be more groundbreaking than it actually is. But then again, Steve Jobs can pretty much say he just launched the same iPod in a lighter shade of white and the media would go bananas about this "revolutionary" new spin on the traditional iPod.
This is all, of course, a matter of opinion. Just because I don't watch these programs doesn't mean there aren't people who just might be jumping for joy at the chance to watch Robson Arms on their iPods. But if the TV viewing consensus is any indication, it's the primetime TV shows that we covet, not the stuff that we barely watch on a large-screen TV, much less a tiny iPod screen for an additional $1.99 per episode.
If you ask me, it might have been a better idea to wait until deals could be inked with all the necessary Canadian networks, U.S. affiliates, and governmental regulators so that we could get the "good" stuff. But with that said, it would be petty not to applaud Apple for making the move toward offering downloadable TV to Canadian viewers, especially strategically just before the biggest buying season of the year. At least we get something, right? And as they say, don't look a gift horse in the mouth.