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99-cent TV show rentals quietly removed from Apple TV, iTunes

post #1 of 97
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Apple has removed the ability to rent TV shows from both iTunes and its Apple TV, taking away what was just last year one of the major advertised selling points of the $99 streaming-centric set-top box.

The option to rent episodes of TV shows is no longer available on either the Apple TV, or when browsing content via Apple's iTunes application. Previously, participating networks offered users the ability to rent a TV episode for 99 cents, with 30 days to begin watching and 48 hours to complete it.

As further evidence that the ability to rent TV shows has been removed completely, an Apple support document entitled "iTunes Store: How to rent TV shows," has been removed from the Web. A Google cache of the page is still available.

In addition, Apple's official page promoting the Apple TV no longer makes any mention of 99-cent TV show rentals. Users are told that they can rent movies, while the page offers users the ability to "buy your favorites, instantly" for TV episodes.

Apple paved the way for the change earlier this month, when the company added the ability to buy and stream iTunes TV shows on the Apple TV. Previously, the set-top box was limited only to streaming rental options, or content that had already been purchased on a Mac or PC and was saved locally on that system.

UPDATE: In a statement to "AllThingsDigital," Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said, iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows. iTunes in the Cloud lets customers download and watch their past TV purchases from their iOS devices, Apple TV, Mac or PC allowing them to enjoy their programming whenever and however they choose.

Released in 2010, the new Apple TV represented a shift for the company, as it pushed studios to allow cheaper 99 cent rentals of TV shows, rather than costlier permanent purchases. But some studios have been reluctant to participate, calling Apple's 99-cent model too inexpensive.



The change to no longer allow rentals seems to suggest that Apple's experiment never paid off in terms of sales, or gained any new support from studios. Previously, Fox and ABC were the only two of the "big four" major U.S. networks that had participated in Apple's streaming offering.

Last month, AppleInsider revealed that Apple has been selling a half million units of its set-top-box per quarter. Though sales of the Apple TV are much higher than other similar devices, Apple has famously referred to the relatively niche product as a "hobby," as it doesn't command nearly the kind of sales or attention as a product like the iPhone.
post #2 of 97
Having 3 Apple TV's in my house... I used the tv show rentals all the time... :-/.. maybe I was the only one doing so? Crud, this sucks.
post #3 of 97
It would be too bad if it were for lack of sales. These things need to be in place so that eventually there will be a point of critical mass and we can drop cable TV. I look forward to the day that television is just another internet service. If cable companies would at least allow us to watch TV and on-demand on our iPads and computers it would be a good start though.

I had actually rented TV shows on occasion even though I get them for "free" on U-Verse so I could watch on my iPad or MacBook AIr. Spending a dollar once in a while feels like nothing when you spend $150 a month on cable. Kinda wish I got more for that $150 though.
post #4 of 97
It could be a precursor to a new service coming.
post #5 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

It could be a precursor to a new service coming.

Perhaps to an unlimited streaming service?

A boy can wish...
post #6 of 97
I bought the new Apple TV, and have since drastically changed my viewing habits. I still rent movies every now and then from Apple, but mostly I access Netflix. For me and my wife, it's a treasure trove of older movies and TV shows at a bargain-basement price. We are having ourselves a blast!
post #7 of 97
I became quickly aware of this about 3 weeks ago when I was looking to rent the first episode of Thundercats and noticed that I couldn't find a single 99¢ TV show rental.

I'm pretty pissed about this because it was a selling feature that I used to validate it as a purchase in our household and now it is gone. We got rid of our cable because we bought an Apple TV 2 and figured we would rent the shows we wanted to see.

Please don't flame me on this but isn't this sort of bait and switch sort of illegal? They have taken a key feature away from a product.
post #8 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandman999 View Post

Perhaps to an unlimited streaming service?

A boy can wish...

Perhaps tiered pricing? (month-to-month)
post #9 of 97
I always felt $.99 was too much for a rental. When you can buy a seasons DVD for around $20, that has 15-20 episodes...why would I want to pay $.99 to just rent it? I'd pay $.99 to buy an episode, and maybe that is what is coming. It falls more in line with what a single episode from a DVD would break down to.
post #10 of 97
Even 99 cents per TV episode is too much to ask. I'm not willing to pay anything at all for any TV episode on a per episode basis.

Maybe Apple is coming out with a subscription based model? That makes far more sense than offering everything separately.

Netflix and services like it are where it's at.
post #11 of 97
Well, they need space to unveil new features for iOS 5 and iTunes Cloud.... Unifying service or maybe iAd-filled free streaming package. If not, this must be the work of the studios since only two is involved.
post #12 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sacto Joe View Post

I bought the new Apple TV, and have since drastically changed my viewing habits. I still rent movies every now and then from Apple, but mostly I access Netflix. For me and my wife, it's a treasure trove of older movies and TV shows at a bargain-basement price. We are having ourselves a blast!

I don't know about treasure trove. I think the selection stinks on Netflix for Apple TV.

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post #13 of 97
It's probably going to fall under iCloud as a purchase and you can watch whenever you want. Like how Apps work.
post #14 of 97
I'm hoping for a monthly subscription. I end up watching Netflix on my ATV just because it's already been paid for.
post #15 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by KindredMac View Post

I became quickly aware of this about 3 weeks ago when I was looking to rent the first episode of Thundercats and noticed that I couldn't find a single 99¢ TV show rental.

I'm pretty pissed about this because it was a selling feature that I used to validate it as a purchase in our household and now it is gone. We got rid of our cable because we bought an Apple TV 2 and figured we would rent the shows we wanted to see.

Please don't flame me on this but isn't this sort of bait and switch sort of illegal? They have taken a key feature away from a product.

That's not bait and switch. Bait and switch is advertising a product with no intention of selling it, to "bait" you into going to the store, where the salespeople attempt to get you to "switch" to buying a higher margin product.

What Apple has apparently done is discontinued a service. It's too soon to say if they did this on their own volition or the TV networks forced this, or if it will be replaced it with something else.
post #16 of 97
sucks
post #17 of 97
TV show rentals for $.99 was just too much to get me interested. I watch about five TV shows each week on the internet. My monthly internet charge is $36 plus fees and taxes. So already I'm paying over $1 per show if I were only using my internet for TV. Adding an additional charge for the Apple TV and rentals would just be too much money. Having Airplay would be a much better deal for people who want to stream things to their TVs.

Streaming movies via Netflix is OK but the picture quality doesn't come close to that of a DVD. Apple TV would only be good for movies if they do come out in very clear DVD quality. Otherwise it would be superfluous.
post #18 of 97
It isn't a bait and switch because the feature worked as advertised when you bought it and a reasonable amount of time afterwards. Further, I doubt Apple would want to give up TV show rentals. If there isn't another reason like better features coming, it likely has to do with Apple seeking reasonable licensing and the studios wanting more then it makes sense for Apple to give.

Asking for more then a dollar would make no sense. You can rent a Redbox movie for the same amount.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KindredMac View Post

Please don't flame me on this but isn't this sort of bait and switch sort of illegal? They have taken a key feature away from a product.
post #19 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

This is exactly the reason why I will never rent anything and buy it so I can see it whenever I want.

If you don't mind paying quite a bit more for that privilege, then good for you.
post #20 of 97
Buying and downloading digital movie and TV programs have failed, and 70%-80% or so percent of legal downloads are rentals. So the only thing I can think of, is that Apple will adopt the all-you-can-eat model of NetFlix. Maybe as part of iCloud.

I was an early adopter and one of the first to buy the first Apple TV and I don't think I rented more then 3-4 TV shows, and only a few movies. $0.99 is way to expensive for a TV show but $3.99 or $4.99 is fine for a movie. But the selection sucks.

Use my Apple TV almost exclusively to stream from my server, and with Apple TV 2, from NetFlix.
post #21 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I don't know about treasure trove. I think the selection stinks on Netflix for Apple TV.

Does Netflix for Apple TV have a more limited selection than regular Netflix?

I have Netflix and I think that it's pretty good, especially for $8 a month.
post #22 of 97
This is the smelly side of how Apple operates. They receive just credits for not being afraid to make drastic changes in their product strategies. But raspberries to them for not always being upfront about it. They may announce a new or replacement program in the future. But pulling the rug from under customers just stinks of arrogance.

Of course, I am still lining up for iPhone 5 when it comes out \
post #23 of 97
I should've sold my ATV2 when Netflix removed a bunch of streaming content in the last few months...

Do we know if this was a unilateral thing on Apple's part of if it's something forced on them by the content owners?

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post #24 of 97
I know this may be a little out there, BUT...

Weren't the bids to purchase Hulu due last Wednesday?? MAYBE Apple has been told they won they bid and are removing the .99 rentals now (legally, might have to end sales for a certain period of time prior to launch/acquisition is finalized?).

ALSO, lets not forget...Apple TV could be due for a fall refresh...this could coincide.

Again, might be a little out there, but I think the option could be on the table. Especially from a PR perspective, many companies launch/announce positive announcements shortly after negative press (Steve Jobs resignation).

Best,

Brian
post #25 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Does Netflix for Apple TV have a more limited selection than regular Netflix?

I have Netflix and I think that it's pretty good, especially for $8 a month.

They are the same - equally limited, at least for some countries (I can't be everywhere to confirm this is universally true). It's pretty sweet to be able to start watching a show in the living room and then finish watching it in bed on the iPad or MBA.

There's an up side to the limited selection of contemporary popular shows - it forces you to open your mind to foreign shows or films, or classic ones. I have been enjoying MI-5 (aka Spooks) from the UK, which I never paid attention to previously.
post #26 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacGuy85 View Post

I know this may be a little out there, BUT...

Weren't the bids to purchase Hulu due last Wednesday?? MAYBE Apple has been told they won they bid and are removing the .99 rentals now (legally, might have to end sales for a certain period of time prior to launch/acquisition is finalized?).

ALSO, lets not forget...Apple TV could be due for a fall refresh...this could coincide.

Again, might be a little out there, but I think the option could be on the table. Especially from a PR perspective, many companies launch/announce positive announcements shortly after negative press (Steve Jobs resignation).

Best,

Brian

Could be. But it could also be simply the fallout from a failed program. Apple is not afraid to pull the plug on something. But sometimes they do it without warning. Ping may disappear too soon, with nary a word.
post #27 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

It's probably going to fall under iCloud as a purchase and you can watch whenever you want. Like how Apps work.

Yeah, given the prices even buying digital content is a dodgy proposition for what you end up getting, but renting is a fools game if you ask me. Say you want to sit down and watch a season of Big Bang Theory (something I did very recently). It would cost you roughly $23.00 and 24 hours later it's gone. Poof.

That would just make me feel like an idiot, which I can actually do for free. I don't need to pay the media companies to feel bad.

IMO it should be more like 99 cents an episode to buy it, not rent it.
(in fact it's $60.00!)
post #28 of 97
.99 to own it in HD in the iCloud with competitive prices for complete seasons (like 9.99 for an album with 12 tracks) and maybe I'll bite. Sounds like the studios think they're worth more than they really are.

Apple can't make this work until internet access becomes a part of our national infrastructure like pavement. Oddly enough, Google might help make that happen; I need to read more on that.
post #29 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

Streaming movies via Netflix is OK but the picture quality doesn't come close to that of a DVD. Apple TV would only be good for movies if they do come out in very clear DVD quality. Otherwise it would be superfluous.

DVD's are horrible, they're only 720x480 !

Even my porn is higher quality than that.

Netflix streaming varies with the type of connection that somebody has.

I find that the HD movies which I've seen on Netflix have been of a pretty good quality, it's pretty amazing that such high quality streaming is commonly available now. It was unheard of, just a short time ago.
post #30 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Does Netflix for Apple TV have a more limited selection than regular Netflix?

I have Netflix and I think that it's pretty good, especially for $8 a month.

As the other poster mentioned it may vary from region to region, however, in California, the Netflix where you order a DVD to be mailed to your house has an infinitely broader selection than the Apple TV version. I have never used the watch on computer version of Netflix so I can't comment on that service.

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post #31 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

They are the same - equally limited, at least for some countries (I can't be everywhere to confirm this is universally true). It's pretty sweet to be able to start watching a show in the living room and then finish watching it in bed on the iPad or MBA.

There's an up side to the limited selection of contemporary popular shows - it forces you to open your mind to foreign shows or films, or classic ones. I have been enjoying MI-5 (aka Spooks) from the UK, which I never paid attention to previously.

Yeah, the selection varies by country of course. Since I'm in the US, my comments are about the US Netflix selection of course.

And yeah, it is nice how smoothly you can switch between devices. I started watching a documentary on my main machine a few days ago, and then I suddenly felt like taking a bath, so I just switched over to the iPad and finished watching it while relaxing in the tub.

I like watching a lot of documentaries and Netflix has a decent selection.

If somebody is looking for the latest, greatest, blockbuster movie releases, Netflix is not going to have most of those, but there is a lot of other really good content on Netflix.

What Star Trek fan wouldn't want to have access to almost every single Star Trek and Star Trek spinoff series made, including every single season and every episode!

For $8 a month, Netflix is a no brainer.
post #32 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

What Apple has apparently done is discontinued a service. It's too soon to say if they did this on their own volition or the TV networks forced this, or if it will be replaced it with something else.

This. I would say that either the content owners pulled the plug or Apple has a new service coming that duplicates what they had.

It seems pretty unlikely that Apple just killed TV show rentals for the hell of it, since they have zero motivation to do so. They don't make any significant money off of iTunes media; the service is designed to sell hardware. Removing functionality from the iTunes Store doesn't sell hardware (which of course different from not including functionality that competes with the iTunes store, which this is not an example of).
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post #33 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

They are the same - equally limited, at least for some countries (I can't be everywhere to confirm this is universally true). It's pretty sweet to be able to start watching a show in the living room and then finish watching it in bed on the iPad or MBA.

There's an up side to the limited selection of contemporary popular shows - it forces you to open your mind to foreign shows or films, or classic ones. I have been enjoying MI-5 (aka Spooks) from the UK, which I never paid attention to previously.

While I am not sure about Apple TV - the interface but not content on devices such as the Wii is somewhat limited compared to a computer.

As for content being taken away - I believe that is a Netflix deal and not anything to do with Apple at all. Don't forget that Netflix doesn't own the content they are delivering. As more studios etc offer their own subscription based streaming services it will be harder for Netflix and Apple etc to offer the same content.

And Yes Netflix can be a Treasure Trove - of older and more obscure stuff that you would other wise miss entirely or not pony up the cash to pay for individually - with the benefit of being able to decide part way through something that you don't like it after all and it did not cost you 99 cents or $3.99 to find out. Just don't forget that they were not founded on the idea of providing the latest releases - but rather on capturing the long tail (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Tail)
and they have done very well at that.
post #34 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

It could be a precursor to a new service coming.

Exactly!

The Apple TV is and has been an experiment, a water testing. The time has come for the hobby/testing to end and the paradigm shift to happen by "going all the way" with new iOS powered Apple 50" displays - those devices should no longer be called TVs as they break with the old passive hypnotized couch potato paradigm, on to the new interactive net based video on demand amongst many other uses paradigm.

The Television was a one-trick-pony, to be a (sewage) pipe downloading programing from Big Brother Studios. Steve doesn't want that, no sane human wants (to be controlled) that. All souls want freedom! Freedom (or the illusion thereof) comes from being assertive/interactive, in sum from the Net.

So no more TV. Should we say Netiv? I would name it iPlay but it's almost like a simple 1920x1080 computer display. I like iPlay.

Apple one's will work with the iCloud and the Apple iEcosystem.

This we are due to have the announcement soon, maybe mid-September with October availability, perhaps.

But don't believe you me, I'm just rumoring :-)

PS: there's no way this is not going to happen, Steve and Apple need this.
PPS: the $99 Apple TV box will live on because Apple is smart.
post #35 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Even 99 cents per TV episode is too much to ask. I'm not willing to pay anything at all for any TV episode on a per episode basis.

Maybe Apple is coming out with a subscription based model? That makes far more sense than offering everything separately.

Netflix and services like it are where it's at.

Well for a 1-a-week show that's one thing, but a daily show is another. And since the only thing I watch on cable is The Daily Show...

Netflix rocks.

BTW, I have a ATV2 and it doesn't have a TV menu of any sort - for rental or purchase. Is this a Canada thing?
post #36 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I don't know about treasure trove. I think the selection stinks on Netflix for Apple TV.

stinks is not a strong enough word for netflix selections for streaming. ok, there are a few titles for kids, and its good place to find washed -up shows that can't seem to find a place to die.
post #37 of 97
Ah ha! Tim Cook is getting greedy. Apple hasn't changed my arse!
post #38 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by XamaX View Post

PPS: the $99 Apple TV box will live on because Apple is smart.

People may not realize how flexible the $99 Apple TV really is. Because it can download new firmware upgrades painlessly, it will avoid becoming obsolete as the content providers keep jockeying around for their cut of the market.

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post #39 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

This is the smelly side of how Apple operates. They receive just credits for not being afraid to make drastic changes in their product strategies. But raspberries to them for not always being upfront about it. They may announce a new or replacement program in the future. But pulling the rug from under customers just stinks of arrogance.

Of course, I am still lining up for iPhone 5 when it comes out \

Looking forward to reading of your inside knowledge of the reasons behind this 'smelly' action (maybe such as demands from studios?) You clearly know something we don't. Please share.
post #40 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by airnerd View Post

I always felt $.99 was too much for a rental. When you can buy a seasons DVD for around $20, that has 15-20 episodes...why would I want to pay $.99 to just rent it? I'd pay $.99 to buy an episode, and maybe that is what is coming. It falls more in line with what a single episode from a DVD would break down to.

I'd pay .99 to rent if: I was taping a series on my DVR and missed a single episode; I wanted to check out a new series (that I forgot to DVR) out of curiosity, but certainly not enough to buy the season, or even an episode for $3; I wanted to rewatch the last episode from last season before the new season airs tomorrow night.

Personally I am far more inclined to rent an episode for .99 than to buy a season from the iTunes Store, or, especially, to buy a single episode. (Why would you ever buy a single episode of a show, other than as an expensive 'rental'?). If I want the whole season, I am going to want it on Blu-Ray or DVD. (I have zero interest in attempting to maintain/backup a huge video library on hard-drive... already got my hands full with music, photography, etc.)
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