Apple finally drops TV rentals from iTunes, Apple TV

Apple finally drops TV rentals from iTunes, Apple TV

Summary: Apple has pulled the plug on TV episode rentals from Apple TV and iTunes, which was probably never necessary to begin with.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, Hardware
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Without any big announcements, Apple is dropping the ability to rent individual TV show episodes from iTunes and Apple TV.

This is evident based on the fact that all mention of TV rentals have been removed from these platforms and Apple's site, although movie rentals are definitely still available.

These rentals, which originally cost $1.99 per episode before some networks dropped their rates to 99 cents, typically gave viewers 30 days to start their rentals and thereafter had 48 hours for completion.

The word "finally" is in the headline because I don't think that the rental model was ever useful to Apple in the first place.

Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD that "iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows."

When you think about it, the only point in renting an individual episode is to perhaps see one that is several weeks old or more and therefore isn't available to watch for free on Hulu (which keeps new episodes up a window of time) or the network's website.

If you're going to watch a handful of old episodes or more, you're better off getting a Hulu Plus or even Netflix subscription (especially if it is a previous season) for at least one month and get more for your money. Monthly streaming rates from both of these start at $7.99.

As for movies, I wouldn't expect those to go anywhere. Renting individual movies has always been popular, even still today when monthly subscription services like Netflix are available. Just look at the popularity of Redbox, Vudu and even movie rentals from iTunes. I've actually rented movies from iTunes in the past because I couldn't find them available to stream from Netflix. Sure, it costs more per movie, but it's certainly cheaper now than stepping up a subscription rate just to get the disc. Plus, no wait time.

Additionally, only two studios (ABC and Fox) have shown any interest in the rental model. Thus, if there isn't even enough content to keep this model alive, it's not worth pouring any more effort or resources into it.

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Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware

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3 comments
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  • RE: Apple finally drops TV rentals from iTunes, Apple TV

    Something Apple tried didn't work out ? Say it isn't so ! ;-)
    jkohut
  • RE: Apple finally drops TV rentals from iTunes, Apple TV

    We often buy TV shows just to watch them once and, effectively, consider them rentals. For instance, if the Tivo misses an episode of a show we watch, or we missed the beginning of a new season, we'll go to Amazon or Apple and buy or rent those shows (at $2, who cares, really), so we can catch up.

    For older seasons on Netflix (when Netflix doesn't yank a show we're already watching -- dang you, Netflix!), we'll just watch the Netflix version because it's already part of the subscription.

    Hulu is poor, with a terrible selection of programming. So, when Netflix doesn't have it, sometimes Apple does. And then, rent or buy doesn't matter as long as we get caught up.
    David Gewirtz
  • RE: Apple finally drops TV rentals from iTunes, Apple TV

    I disagree. I think that it's really crappy to get rid of the rental side. If they can rent movies, they should rent tv shows. I don't typically re-watch tv shows, so no point in me owning them and have to deal with the digital space issue.
    blukabm