Apple 'in advanced talks' about 99-cent TV rentals service

Apple appears to be finally beefing up its online rental service within iTunes as the Cupertino company is reported to be "in advanced talks" with News Corporation about 99-cent TV episode rentals.

Apple appears to be finally beefing up its online rental service within iTunes as the Cupertino company is reported to be "in advanced talks" with News Corporation about 99-cent TV episode rentals.

According to Bloomberg, "three people familiar with the plan" have detailed a plan that would allow 48-hour rentals of selected TV shows. It looks like it might only be Fox at first. But if you get tired of House and Fringe, never fear as ABC and CBS programming could be on the way too.

Currently, most TV shows available on iTunes have to be bought, either for $1.99 as a single episode (when available) or with a slightly-discounted "season pass." The latter is typically popular with stable hits like Lost (when it was still on the air).

There are some free episodes of major shows already available on iTunes from a variety of networks, but it is usually limited to season premieres, pilot episodes or programs that need some ratings help.

$0.99 for a 48-hour rental of a 30- to 60-minute episode might seem a bit steep, especially if you can still stream recent content on a network's website, Hulu or Netflix. But hopefully this would mean iTunes would keep older episodes up longer (at least a whole season), it would be another place to turn to as Hulu will be charging for streaming back episodes of popular current hits as well. Episodes are also expected to be commercial-free and posted within 24 hours of airing.

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