Apple, Without Fanfare, Sheds TV Show Rentals

Posted by at 3:10 pm on August 26, 2011

Apple has dropped the 99-cent TV show rentals that it used to launch the second-generation Apple TV. Along with dropping the option from the store itself, the Apple TV product page no longer makes mention of the option. Rentals are now limited to movies, and TV shows are back to being purchase-only.

The change suggests that ABC and Fox have soured on the deal, either due to results or contractual differences. Where many of Apple’s other iTunes video deals saw it get most or all majors onboard, iTunes TV rentals started with just half of the four major TV studios on its side. Those in the traditional, declining TV industry have attacked the concept since they believe it either cannibalizes purchases or hurts deals for syndicating to other networks.

It’s possible that Apple or the studios had been ready to exit earlier but that they had to wait on Apple’s North Carolina datacenter and its cloud push to make the jump. Until recently, Apple TV owners could never stream purchased content that wasn’t on a local computer or iOS device. The company just recently enabled streaming TV purchases and doesn’t have to keep the rental option active.

Many believe that Apple will use iOS 5 and the iCloud releases in the next several weeks to make streaming a much more important component of the Apple TV and iTunes in general. The service still has yet to enable streaming purchased movies or music and could do both to make the Apple TV truly independent. [

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