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

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 96
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 96
    esummersesummers Posts: 909member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 96
    gustavgustav Posts: 824member
    It could be a precursor to a new service coming.
  • Reply 4 of 96
    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...
  • Reply 5 of 96
    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!
  • Reply 6 of 96
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 96
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bandman999 View Post


    Perhaps to an unlimited streaming service?



    A boy can wish...



    Perhaps tiered pricing? (month-to-month)
  • Reply 8 of 96
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 664member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 96
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,680member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 96
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 96
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 96
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    It's probably going to fall under iCloud as a purchase and you can watch whenever you want. Like how Apps work.
  • Reply 13 of 96
    jakebjakeb Posts: 557member
    I'm hoping for a monthly subscription. I end up watching Netflix on my ATV just because it's already been paid for.
  • Reply 14 of 96
    gustavgustav Posts: 824member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 96
    sucks
  • Reply 16 of 96
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 96
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    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.



  • Reply 18 of 96
    gustavgustav Posts: 824member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 96
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 96
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,680member
    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.
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