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Apple prepping iTunes Replay on-demand video service

post #1 of 60
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Apple is believed to be wrapping up a new feature in iTunes 8 that will allow users to stream their iTunes video purchases directly from the company's servers for playback anywhere, anytime without eating up local storage.

Dubbed iTunes Replay, the service would allow iTunes shoppers to build out their digital video collection without worrying about the space needed to store the often hefty media files. It's unclear whether Apple plans to charge for the service, which is said to support both iTunes Movie and TV show purchases.

One of the main complaints users have with video purchases on iTunes is that they are forced to either throw away their files after watching them, or find a place to store the large files either on their hard drive or by burning them to DVDs. By storing their video content for them and allowing users to stream it for viewing as often as they want, Apple would essentially be offering a media center alternative.

iTunes Reply on other devices

The iTunes Replay service could also improve the experience of the company's Apple TV set top box, allowing users to stream purchased media directly from Apple's servers without ever syncing or copying files between Apple TV and a computer running iTunes, and without filling up the devices' limited hard drive space, which currently tops out at 160 GB.

The ability to stream purchased content directly would also benefit users of mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch, which have an even greater limit on local storage capacity but already have the ability to stream QuickTime content directly over the air.

Amazon's Video on Demand (formerly known as UnBox) and the Instant Watch service from Netflix already provide video streaming, but both involve DRM hurdles erected by the studios that complicate the experience, as they are typically viewed through a web browser (although Amazon has an appliance partner deal with Tivo, and Netflix has partnered with Roku and the Xbox 360).

Apple's mobile devices, iTunes and Apple TV already accommodate the DRM protection the studios demand for playback of their content, meaning that no new layers of complication are necessary. Additionally, Apple has a wider selection of video content to choose from in iTunes.

The disadvantage to streaming video content rather than playing it from a downloaded file is that users will need to maintain high quality Internet bandwidth throughout playback, or face interruption as the stream is buffered. Streaming playback of HD content also typically requires better than DSL (1.5 Mbps) service.

If Apple continues to offer both downloads as well as streaming video on demand, it will remain differentiated from streaming-only services like Netflix Watch Instantly in that users on a slower Internet connection will be able to download HD titles in advance and watch them via local playback, or even unplug their Apple TV and bring it and their downloaded content to a location without Internet service for viewing.

Apple gearing up for new streaming traffic

iTunes Replay would arrive on the heels of last month's report that Apple has shifted its online content delivery strategy to include a provider in Limelight Networks, joining longtime Apple partner Akamai Technologies. Having two different providers could help greatly optimize the delivery of streaming content to the millions of customers who use iTunes.

Frost & Sullivan analyst Dan Rayburn connected the change to Apple's booming digital download business, which he said is growing at a "crazy" rate.

"We already know that no CDN [content delivery network] has unlimited capacity and can only handle so much traffic at any given time," Rayburn said. "If you are Apple, using more than one CDN is just smart business."
post #2 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

...playback anywhere, anytime without eating up local storage.

These guys must have great confidence on bandwidth growth and ISPs over the next few years.
post #3 of 60
Agh! Apple do you not get it?

I don't care about owning last weeks episode of Lost for a $1.99 and being able to watch it over and over again I DO want to watch the episode though and I'd pay a monthly fee to be able to stream whenever, wherever...
post #4 of 60
I think that make sense. It's perfect, I think. I think it doesn't have to fill up spaces on Apple's server either. When Apple have all movies stored online for people to purchase and download, and once they own the movies, it can be played anywhere as long as it's linked to Apple's server that have all movies.

I hope it is free of charge, otherwise it'd be ripped off. It's like they're charging us even though it doesn't fill up their server spaces.
post #5 of 60
If this turns out to be some kind of video subscription service, then this is huge.
post #6 of 60
I like this idea as long as the pricing structure for TV shows is different. Why would I pay to stream the show when I can stream it from Hulu for FREE?
post #7 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by tacojohn View Post

Agh! Apple do you not get it?

I don't care about owning last weeks episode of Lost for a $1.99 and being able to watch it over and over again– I DO want to watch the episode though and I'd pay a monthly fee to be able to stream whenever, wherever...

How much would you pay to be able to watch any TV any time? I fear it would be more expensive than Cable. Maybe not though, Netflix unlimited watch-now movies is reasonable, even though the selection is limited.
post #8 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasein View Post

These guys must have great confidence on bandwidth growth and ISPs over the next few years.

They should. With FIOS, Uverse and DOCSIS 3 for cableco if you live anywhere but rural neighborhood you should get fast speeds. Couple that with encoding efficiency and in 5 years people will probably download and stream content depending on their needs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

If this turns out to be some kind of video subscription service, then this is huge.

Could be and could be a la carte but cheaper for rentals. Apple could offer tiers of service here.

This is a pretty positive development IMO.
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post #9 of 60
I believe Apple will announce a new video subscription service - iTunes Replay.

For 19.99 per month, you will be able to stream any video within the iTunes video store - movies, TV shows, or short films.

This would be the killer app for the Apple TV.
post #10 of 60
This would also cut down on pirating.
less copies out in the wild the less of a chance they are distributed illegally.
post #11 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by jacob1varghese View Post

I believe Apple will announce a new video subscription service - iTunes Replay.

For 19.99 per month, you will be able to stream any video within the iTunes video store - movies, TV shows, or short films.

This would be the killer app for the Apple TV.

While a potential Apple iTunes video subscription service would not impact Hulu, it would pull customers away from Netflix's membership and also possibly cable TV subscriptions.
post #12 of 60
Quote:
It's unclear whether Apple plans to charge for the service

They'd have to charge for the movies at least. I can't see the studios just giving them away for free. iTunes has free music and TV shows every week but no free movies ($0.99).
post #13 of 60
Why is everyone ok with buying things they won't own?
post #14 of 60
The only real problem that comes to mind is that like DRM, you have to rely on the company to remember that you are supposed to have access to the files and they can remove that access at any time. With a straight video subscription service, you stop paying your monthly fee and the media disappears (much like cable TV).

With this service, there has to be a file somewhere that says I have access to season two of "The L word" but not season six, or that I bought access to one movie but not another. There will be times when keeping track of this will screw up royally, I'm almost certain.
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post #15 of 60
I seem to remember that Apple hired or bought some PTP Intellectual Property a few years back. The benefit of PTP (integrated with the CDNs) is it allows for much higher throughput.

This rumor is very interesting because it smells like Apple might have a novel (patented) content distribution system and business method.

If it does, you can bet it's a money maker.
post #16 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by mathilda View Post

Why is everyone ok with buying things they won't own?

Even the stuff you buy on DVD you dont own
post #17 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by jacob1varghese View Post

While a potential Apple iTunes video subscription service would not impact Hulu, it would pull customers away from Netflix's membership and also possibly cable TV subscriptions.

What are you talking about? This would totally impact Hulu.
post #18 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by mathilda View Post

Why is everyone ok with buying things they won't own?

Nowhere does it say you wouldn't have that option still -- you can either own a physical copy or own unlimited streaming rights. I think it's an idea with a lot of potential, and would even allow for "owning" of HD movies, since you wouldn't have to worry about storing them locally.
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post #19 of 60
This is a necessary step if digital media is to ever overtake physical media.
post #20 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by mathilda View Post

Why is everyone ok with buying things they won't own?

Ownership is over rated...

What I would love to see is an ala carte subscription service. I only watch a small number of different programs per week. The plethora of other channels is just noise to me. So let me pick my programming, make it accessible at the same time as cable TV, throw in a movie or two per week, charge me less than cable and I'll be all set. I'd even tolerate a low percentage of ads in the TV programming. These would be targeted (google) and so more relevant and / or entertaining and should bring the costs down. The downside to this would be the inability to 'flip and discover' but with so many channels and so much junk I no longer 'discover' anything on TV.
post #21 of 60
Video On-Demand for pay?
Sounds like an Apple Porn website.
post #22 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by nace33 View Post

What are you talking about? This would totally impact Hulu.

Apple's service would include a monthly fee. HULU is free and advertising supported. Hulu will not be impacted by the introduction of Apple's paid service. If anything, this will bring more attention to Hulu's product.
post #23 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by tacojohn View Post

Agh! Apple do you not get it?

I don't care about owning last weeks episode of Lost for a $1.99 and being able to watch it over and over again– I DO want to watch the episode though and I'd pay a monthly fee to be able to stream whenever, wherever...

How do you know that's not what this is exactly about? I.E. a subscription service.
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post #24 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasein View Post

These guys must have great confidence on bandwidth growth and ISPs over the next few years.

Depending on where you are and your ISP it's already totally doable, at least with iPhone sized videos...

Check out ooTunes server and the accompanying iphone app http://ootunes.com/app/

You can use your home internet connection to stream whatever you want to your iPhone (music, videos, etc.) and I'm running it with the cheapest DSL I can buy and the bandwidth is good enough that a single person can watch uninterrupted video, with minor buffering.

But it will all depend on your network, isp, etc.
post #25 of 60
This service could also be used to host music. One of the reasons I have an iPod but not an iPhone is that the iPod can store so much music. If I could get all my tunes on demand wirelessly, then I don't need the big hard drive... seems like a no-brainer to me!
post #26 of 60
Not so sure about the streaming of video as it eats the internet and we all end up paying whether we realise or not.

I do like the idea of Apple knowing what digital content we own and allowing us to delete and re-download to better manage our local storage. I'd like this extended to music and applications too. I wouldn't mind an automated version of this based on my MobileMe subscription. So i could uninstall a large app or remove rarely listened to music. Maybe even use the service to reduce my Time machine backup, since Time Machine could know what's supposed to be there and just recover online content from Apple's servers. Stuff like this is where the cloud starts to come into its own, with seamless integrated experiences. A Time Machine with OSX on it could get really smart at shifting content around, perhaps at night when the net is quiet or when you think your Mac is sleeping.

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post #27 of 60
Doesn't matter how fast your internet connection is, if the servers are busy, you won't be able to watch a streaming video. There is nothing more annoying than to be watching something and have it pause because it must wait for the download. At that point, continued viewing is not possible because the real time playback is sometimes faster than the content downloading due to general internet traffic. With more and more people trying to receive streaming content, it would be even worse.

At least when it is downloaded, you have uninterrupted viewing. But I would still rather watch a DVD, Blu-Ray, or live/recorded HD broadcast. All three provide a better picture quality than anything on AppleTV.
post #28 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikerowesoft View Post

This service could also be used to host music. One of the reasons I have an iPod but not an iPhone is that the iPod can store so much music. If I could get all my tunes on demand wirelessly, then I don't need the big hard drive... seems like a no-brainer to me!

Ha ha, looks like my post was prescient of that one. Check out ooTunes

NOTE: I'm the developer of it so this is somewhat self serving, just want that to be clear.
post #29 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by tacojohn View Post

Agh! Apple do you not get it?

I don't care about owning last weeks episode of Lost for a $1.99 and being able to watch it over and over again I DO want to watch the episode though and I'd pay a monthly fee to be able to stream whenever, wherever...

Even more than a subcription, I'd prefer an option to rent TV shows for, say, 99 cents. I have no interest in owning any TV show content and only need to fill in the occassional gaps in service from cable (a subscription would be overkill).

Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

They should. With FIOS, Uverse and DOCSIS 3 for cableco if you live anywhere but rural neighborhood you should get fast speeds. Couple that with encoding efficiency and in 5 years people will probably download and stream content depending on their needs.

Interesting thing about DOCSIS 3, as the cable company reserves more and more space on their networks for faster internet connections (to keep up with FIOS), the quality of their TV service is suffering. At least in my area, I'd almost prefer that Comcast would broadcast a clean, 720p signal than their over-compresssed 1080i.

In the end they may put themselves out of the TV business. You'll be able to get better quality video via download, and they'll even provide the fast internet connection to enable you to dump their TV service and rely on iTunes, etc. In fact, I've recently downgraded to a cheaper channel package and the money I save monthly is more then enough to purchases the HD version of the shows I'd normally watch on the channels I lost when downgrading.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mathilda View Post

Why is everyone ok with buying things they won't own?

On a related point, iTunes occassionaly removes content from their offerings. What happens when you purchase a show, but you leave it on Apple's Replay service instead of downloading it. If that show is later removed from the iTunes Store, will it still be available for you to stream?
post #30 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by mathilda View Post

Why is everyone ok with buying things they won't own?

Because in the case of movies, a large percentage of people only watch them once, which is why video "rentals" has been a multi-billion dollar business since the 80's.

A subscription service for iTunes movies/tv shows would be the best thing that could happen to AppleTV.

EDIT: Even if a streaming/subscription service was offered, I'm sure the option to purchase would not go away.
post #31 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

Interesting thing about DOCSIS 3, as the cable company reserves more and more space on their networks for faster internet connections (to keep up with FIOS), the quality of their TV service is suffering. At least in my area, I'd almost prefer that Comcast would broadcast a clean, 720p signal than their over-compresssed 1080i.

In the end they may put themselves out of the TV business. You'll be able to get better quality video via download, and they'll even provide the fast internet connection to enable you to dump their TV service and rely on iTunes, etc. In fact, I've recently downgraded to a cheaper channel package and the money I save monthly is more then enough to purchases the HD version of the shows I'd normally watch on the channels I lost when downgrading.

Agreed 720p with less artifacts would be more pleasing as I only have a 32" I think Comcast and other broadband providers are pretty worried about cannibalizing their video options. I'm going to get a 22 or 30 Mbps connection primarily because I "can" stream Netflix and HULU so in one way they get the broadband fees but they can forget the other components of the fabled "Triple Play"

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post #32 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

On a related point, iTunes occassionaly removes content from their offerings. What happens when you purchase a show, but you leave it on Apple's Replay service instead of downloading it. If that show is later removed from the iTunes Store, will it still be available for you to stream?

Interesting point. They'd definitely have to address that somehow. Overall though, I'm extremely excited to hear this. It's the service I've been wanting all along. Why does there need to be hundreds of thousands of copies of a movie on iTunes when one copy can be shared by all? Why should I have to pay and manage storage and back of these files when all that's already being done by Apple? It's double work, uses a lot of resources and costs a lot of money. By paying for (unlimited?) streams of the content I purchase from iTunes all those negatives are eliminated.

Of course there's a trade off. That's how the universe works. I may have to keep or upgrade my internet access and worry about excessive traffic on the servers, but overall I don't have many troubles with my service in streaming now. Plus streaming gives me access to the content on my Mac, iPod, iPhone and Apple TV. All with no synching or management.

I really hope this turns out to be true!
post #33 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by mathilda View Post

Why is everyone ok with buying things they won't own?

I would LOVE to not have to deal with a physical medium like a DVD or CD forever. I think having a subscription for music/movie/tv show would essentially kill A LOT of distribution models out there. I could care less if I don't own an episode of Heroes and merely subscribe to it. This is truly where it's going...on-demand digital streaming. And for those who want to own, I'm sure Apple will still happily take your money.
post #34 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by solsun View Post

Because in the case of movies, a large percentage of people only watch them once, which is why video "rentals" has been a multi-billion dollar business since the 80's.

A subscription service for iTunes movies/tv shows would be the best thing that could happen to AppleTV.

EDIT: Even if a streaming/subscription service was offered, I'm sure the option to purchase would not go away.

Part of me agrees with your statement but when I want to watch a man movie I pull out my trusty copy of The Hunt For Red October and when I need a comedy I love to watch Sean of the Dead, Super Troopers and Bubba Hotep and when S.W.M.B.O (She Who Must Be Obeyed) wants to watch a chick flick I pull out my trusty copy of the Princess Bride. I can see the value of this service but I would still prefer to have a physical copy of my favorites. I see this as a complimentary service rather then a complete replacement for having a physical or locally stored copy for many people. And I believe you are right about this helping Atv as I think that streaming would really drive Atv growth.

The real fly in the ointment is the broadband providers and their bandwidth caps. While Comcast etal may be working on ever faster service they are also trying to cap your monthly bandwidth and are known for blocking traffic they don't like. What is to stop them from throttling your download speeds on apple media content like they keep trying to do with bittorent? \
Jim

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post #35 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by jacob1varghese View Post

I believe Apple will announce a new video subscription service - iTunes Replay.

For 19.99 per month, you will be able to stream any video within the iTunes video store - movies, TV shows, or short films.

This would be the killer app for the Apple TV.

I swear to fracking GOD, if that happens, GOODBYE NETFLIX!
post #36 of 60
Here in the UK, where broadband is mainly ADSL, the average broadband speed is about 3Mbit, so a service like this should be fine. From this article, I'd guess that ADSL in the US is worse than ours... We can get ADSL up to 24Mbit (in theory, more like 18-20Mbit in practice)...
post #37 of 60
I was thinking of this today As to iitunes purchases
App store remembers your purchase so if lost you download
It free
They should do this with all iTunes purchases reduces the
Need for a home server and backup issues
This would also tie more to apple universe
This can also help with clones and push atv purchases
I wouldn't need cable box so long as I could get nick and
Disney content for my little girls
This would allow a true alacart programing that many--
Myself have wanted. With the money u save from cable
Dish pay for many apple products
Also offer lower red for slower Internet connection
Yea apple
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post #38 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by jacob1varghese View Post

Apple's service would include a monthly fee. HULU is free and advertising supported. Hulu will not be impacted by the introduction of Apple's paid service. If anything, this will bring more attention to Hulu's product.

I couldn't disagree with you more. Hulu needs a set top box to be main stream. Boxee on the AppleTv is not a mainstream option. I don't even think AppleTV could be considered mainstream. However, iTunes is. If Apple makes its streaming service easy to get on your big screen, something Hulu doesn't do, then I think many people, including this avid hulu watcher would jump ship on Hulu.
post #39 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by yensid98 View Post

Interesting point. They'd definitely have to address that somehow. Overall though, I'm extremely excited to hear this. It's the service I've been wanting all along. Why does there need to be hundreds of thousands of copies of a movie on iTunes when one copy can be shared by all? Why should I have to pay and manage storage and back of these files when all that's already being done by Apple? It's double work, uses a lot of resources and costs a lot of money. By paying for (unlimited?) streams of the content I purchase from iTunes all those negatives are eliminated.

Of course there's a trade off. That's how the universe works. I may have to keep or upgrade my internet access and worry about excessive traffic on the servers, but overall I don't have many troubles with my service in streaming now. Plus streaming gives me access to the content on my Mac, iPod, iPhone and Apple TV. All with no synching or management.

I really hope this turns out to be true!

It would be nice if you had the option to download locally any of your own stuff anytime and then wipe when not needed knowing it was still on the cloud. I am thinking like when going on a trip and you might not have access to net or only slow one. Also be good if HD Movies had a more lenient policy too, maybe be able to watch several times over the years once rented.
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post #40 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikerowesoft View Post

This service could also be used to host music. One of the reasons I have an iPod but not an iPhone is that the iPod can store so much music. If I could get all my tunes on demand wirelessly, then I don't need the big hard drive... seems like a no-brainer to me!

No, and if it's a subscription service it won't be movies either, only the replay part will be.
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