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Byline: Greg Hernandez Staff Writer

Apple's iTunes Music Store has a new chief executive: fictional U.S. President MacKenzie Allen of ABC's ``Commander in Chief.''

``Chief,'' the most-watched new show on the broadcast networks, stars Geena Davis as the first female U.S. president. Co-stars include Donald Sutherland, Kyle Secor and Mark-Paul Gosselaar.

All nine episodes of ``Chief'' that have aired this season are available for downloading on Apple's new video iPod or on a computer. New episodes will be available the day after they air on ABC just as such hits as ``Desperate Housewives'' and ``Lost'' are.

``We think it's a great show,'' said Albert Cheng, executive vice president of digital media for the Disney-ABC Television Group. ``We want people who have not had the opportunity to watch it to catch up before the show resumes with new episodes in January.''

In addition to ``Chief,'' ``Lost'' and ``Housewives,'' other ABC shows available for purchase include the now canceled ``Night Stalker'' and Disney Channel shows ``That's So Raven'' and ``The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.''

NBC Universal quickly followed ABC by offering several of its current shows including ``Law & Order'' and ``The Office'' on iTunes as well as sketches from ``The Tonight Show'' and ``Late Night with Conan O'Brien.'' Past NBC shows including ``Adam-12'' and ``Knight Rider'' are also available.

Television offerings on iTunes cost $1.99 per episode for viewing.

Apple reported that iTunes enjoyed more than 1 million downloads during its first two weeks of operation but have not made public more updated numbers since then.

``It's much bigger than that million right now,'' Cheng said. ``I think it's doing as well as we would hope. I think it's just a great value proposition, and I think the TV shows are driving a lot of these downloads.''

While such other ABC hits as ``Grey's Anatomy'' might seem like an ideal iTunes fit, the network has no further announcement regarding adding other programs to the download roster.

``At this point in time, we are evaluating what can be added,'' Cheng said. ``Everything is case-by-case. We want to figure out what makes sense to put on Apple, what's appropriate, and how does it help the show overall on the linear network.''

In its Tuesday night time period, ``Chief'' has increased viewership for ABC in the 9 p.m. time period by 4.4 million viewers.

Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University said the video iPod is an indication that 2005 ``was the real year that a commitment was made that TV was going to jump out of the living room.''

He thinks the marketing strategy of making hit shows available is a good way to introduce the product to the masses but not so much in the longer term.

``The idea is, `Let's move these units off the shelf for Christmas and let's get as many people under the tent as possible,'' Thompson said. ``You'll bring people in with temptation to see these shows but eventually I think a new aesthetic will be need to be devised, a kind of new show that falls between the high production of `Lost' and radio.''




(color) Geena Davis stars in the hit ``Commander in Chief.''
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 22, 2005

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