Apple Credits iTunes Purchases, Takes the Heat for Breaking Bad

| Analysis

Apple has started giving iTunes Store customers a US$22.99 credit if they purchased a season pass for Breaking Bad's final episodes. Customers lashed out when they found that buying a season pass scored them only the first eight episodes of the season instead of all 16, and even though it was AMC's decision to split the season it's Apple that's taking the heat.

Apple gives Breaking Bad season 5 purchasers $23 creditApple gives Breaking Bad season 5 purchasers $23 credit

The 16 episodes were split by AMC into two groups, although that wasn't clear on Apple's iTunes Store. When the second half of the season started, customers found that they'd have to shell out another $22.99 to see the remaining eight episodes.

The confusion -- or deception, depending on your perspective -- led to a lawsuit earlier this month where Noam Lazebnik claimed that splitting the season half constituted false advertising because the iTunes Store said the Season Pass included "every episode in that season."

Mr. Lazebnik argued that iTunes Store customers were misled into thinking that the $23 they paid for season 5 of Breaking Bad included all 16 episodes, and not just the first half of the season.

AMC isn't the only network to split single seasons into two parts. The BBC, for example, has done the same thing with the popular Sci-Fi series Doctor Who, but in that case it's very clear that your Season Pass purchase only includes half of the episodes.

The decision to credit Breaking Bad Season Pass purchasers $23 is a smart public relations move for Apple since the Mac, iPhone and iPad maker is taking the brunt of the bad press. The decision to split apart season 5, however, falls on AMC's shoulders since the network gets to choose how its shows are distributed through the iTunes Store.

Regardless of which company takes responsibility for the confusion, customers are at least getting something to make them feel a little better about finding out they were buying only half of the season.

For Apple, footing the bill is probably worth the cost since the move will appease most customers, and it addresses the core issue in the related lawsuit. Since it's not AMC stepping up, that means Apple is footing the bill by crediting users itself for shows they haven't purchased, and that sounds like a pretty good deal for customers and AMC.

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