|The Sundance deal expands iTunes beyond music and into other types of radio-like content.
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The partnership with Sundance gives iTunes one of its first exclusive podcast partners and inches Apple's iTunes operations -- originally created as a music distribution hub -- toward becoming a broader, radio-like media entity.
In March, approximately 1.7 million U.S. households downloaded a song from iTunes, according to a study by NPD Group.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been personally publicizing the new podcast-enabled version of iTunes, due out in July. At Apple�s recent Worldwide Developer�s Forum in San Francisco he called podcasts �the hottest thing going on in radio.�
Mr. Jobs said the new iTunes will make it easier for audiences to create and distribute digital recordings, with a directory of podcasts, a registry for podcast creators and an editorial service that identifies the best podcasts. He also didn�t rule out charging for premium content.
One of the first iTunes podcast features scheduled from the Sundance Channel will be The Al Franken Show, featuring the Air America talk show host.
For the budding Sundance network, the iTunes deal offers a potentially potent way for promoting Mr. Franken's show, one of its most-hyped programs. Additionally, a collection of video clips from the show will also be available for streaming at Apple.com.
Sundance Channel, a premium cable network jointly owned by NBC Universal, Robert Redford and Viacom�s Showtime Networks, also benefits from the barter deal by receiving Apple�s post-production editing equipment and expertise -- a partnership that began when the network broadcasted from the Sundance Film Festival.
�For us Apple is absolutely a like-minded brand in the way they position themselves,� said Kirk Iwanowski, senior vice president for marketing at Sundance. He cites Apple�s �Think Different� campaign and the Sundance Channel�s independent streak as evidence of their compatibility. �We like the idea of identifying a like-minded consumer brand and partnering with them from a programming and marketing standpoint.�
In the future, Mr. Iwanowski said collaboration at the retail store level may occur as well. He envisioned Mr. Franken serving apple pie at the Genius Bar (Apple's Gap-like retail sores) -- Mr. Franken's current All-American campaign features him with the national dessert -- while Apple experts offer a case study presentation on the post-production equipment used in editing his show.