iTunes Digital Copy redemptions from non-4K Blu-rays appear to support 4K streaming on new...

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in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV
While 4K films on iTunes are streaming-only, it appears that users may be able to upgrade their movie collection if they buy a physical Blu-ray copy that comes with an iTunes Digital Copy code, even if the Blu-ray is just 1080p HD.


Although the "Logan" Blu-ray was purchased in HD, the iTunes Digital Copy redemption shows available to stream in 4K.


Upon setting up the new Apple TV 4K, AppleInsider checked iTunes movie libraries and found that recently redeemed iTunes Digital Copy films are listed in the iTunes movie library as being 4K-resolution. This despite the fact that the Blu-rays in question were not 4K versions.

Notably, years ago iTunes Digital Copy redemptions only offered standard-definition versions of films via Apple's store when redeemed.

Such legacy redemptions have never been upgraded to high definition, let alone 4K. That remains the case with the Apple TV 4K -- older iTunes Digital Copy films remained available to stream in standard definition, even though HD copies are available to purchase on the iTunes store.

To that end, when accessed via the Apple TV, the iTunes library items do not show an HD icon.

But when loading up a digitally redeemed copy of the film "Logan" from 20th Century Fox, the copy owned in the iTunes library shows that it is, in fact, available for streaming 4K, as well as HD.




Unfortunately, it's impossible to tell whether or not the film itself is actually streaming in 4K quality, as tvOS on the Apple TV runs at 4K resolution at all times, regardless of the quality of the content being played.

Further, although streamed programming may be available at resolutions up to 4K, the ability to reach that high of quality is largely dependent on the user's home internet connection.

Still, the appearance of a 4K icon on an iTunes Digital Copy obtained from a non-4K Blu-ray would strongly suggest that users can actually stream higher quality versions of films than were purchased on a physical disc. That's noteworthy because 4K Blu-rays not only require special players, but the discs themselves also carry a premium over standard HD Blu-rays, sometimes $10 to $15 more.

Given that Apple worked out a deal with studios to charge the same $20 price for films, whether they are 4K or HD, it would appear that iTunes will treat both 4K and HD the same -- as long as streaming is concerned. Downloads, however, remain limited to 1080p HD.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    Oh, that's not complicated at all.
  • Reply 2 of 15
    I noticed this right away. Was a pleasant suprise! 😀
    RacerhomieXwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 15
    So those of us who download our movies and play them from local storage are limited to 1080? What if the movie is purchased from iTunes, rather than a redemption included with a disc?
  • Reply 4 of 15
    So those of us who download our movies and play them from local storage are limited to 1080? What if the movie is purchased from iTunes, rather than a redemption included with a disc?
    You cannot download a 4K movie no matter what, whether it’s a purchase or a redemption. 
  • Reply 5 of 15

    Unfortunately, it's impossible to tell whether or not the film itself is actually streaming in 4K quality, as tvOS on the Apple TV runs at 4K resolution at all times, regardless of the quality of the content being played.
    This impossibility is only possible if Apple TV 4K magically recreates the exact 4K original even if it is not streamed in 4K. If streaming quality goes below 4K, AppleTV's upscaling to 4K would be noticeable IMHO.
    edited September 2017
  • Reply 6 of 15

    Unfortunately, it's impossible to tell whether or not the film itself is actually streaming in 4K quality, as tvOS on the Apple TV runs at 4K resolution at all times, regardless of the quality of the content being played.
    This impossibility is only possible if Apple TV 4K magically recreates the exact 4K original even if it is not streamed in 4K. If streaming quality goes below 4K, AppleTV's upscaling to 4K would be noticeable IMHO.
    I agree, and the short clip I watched suggested it was 4K. However, without any definitive way to say that it actually was 4K, I can’t really report with authority. Hence the bet hedging, in the interest of disclosure. 
    lorin schultz
  • Reply 7 of 15
    nhughes said:
    So those of us who download our movies and play them from local storage are limited to 1080? What if the movie is purchased from iTunes, rather than a redemption included with a disc?
    You cannot download a 4K movie no matter what, whether it’s a purchase or a redemption. 
    Thanks Neil.

    I'm sure there's a reason, but it's hard to imagine what it might be. And BECAUSE it's hard to imagine, I gotta figure it has something to do with the studios.
  • Reply 8 of 15
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    nhughes said:
    So those of us who download our movies and play them from local storage are limited to 1080? What if the movie is purchased from iTunes, rather than a redemption included with a disc?
    You cannot download a 4K movie no matter what, whether it’s a purchase or a redemption. 
    Thanks Neil.

    I'm sure there's a reason, but it's hard to imagine what it might be. And BECAUSE it's hard to imagine, I gotta figure it has something to do with the studios.
    Is there any service that allows you to download 4K movies?
  • Reply 9 of 15
    nhughes said:

    Unfortunately, it's impossible to tell whether or not the film itself is actually streaming in 4K quality, as tvOS on the Apple TV runs at 4K resolution at all times, regardless of the quality of the content being played.
    This impossibility is only possible if Apple TV 4K magically recreates the exact 4K original even if it is not streamed in 4K. If streaming quality goes below 4K, AppleTV's upscaling to 4K would be noticeable IMHO.
    I agree, and the short clip I watched suggested it was 4K. However, without any definitive way to say that it actually was 4K, I can’t really report with authority. Hence the bet hedging, in the interest of disclosure. 
    If you have a home router that shows bandwidth usage in real time, you'll be able to see a difference in 4K stream bandwidth usage (around 25 MBit) vs. HD stream usage (around 5 Mbit, give or take a few).
  • Reply 10 of 15
    Hopefully Apple and the studios can get more cooperation and make more iTunes availability with redemptions. I just bought Wonder Woman on Bluray (Warner Bros is the studio) and it states in (almost) all caps "DOES NOT INCLUDE iTUNES FILE, BUT IS COMPATIBLE WITH MOST iOS AND ANDROID DEVICES." It's apparently Ultraviolet only. Ick.

    I also can't stand the marketing where they show something like "DVD + Digital." Have DVDs and Blurays become analog by some sort of magic now?
  • Reply 11 of 15
    linkman said:
    [...] I just bought Wonder Woman on Bluray (Warner Bros is the studio) and it states in (almost) all caps "DOES NOT INCLUDE iTUNES FILE, BUT IS COMPATIBLE WITH MOST iOS AND ANDROID DEVICES." It's apparently Ultraviolet only. Ick.
    I'm very glad that Warner Bros. is finally making that clear on the packaging. A few years ago I got into an exchange with someone in their marketing department about how I was surprised and disappointed that the "Digital Copy" proclaimed on the disc cover was not compatible with iTunes.

    At the time I opined that choosing Ultraviolet over iTunes was going to bite them on the ass someday. Now I wonder if the number of people still buying movies is too small for the studios to give any thought at all to anything other than streaming services.
  • Reply 12 of 15
    linkman said:
    Hopefully Apple and the studios can get more cooperation and make more iTunes availability with redemptions. I just bought Wonder Woman on Bluray (Warner Bros is the studio) and it states in (almost) all caps "DOES NOT INCLUDE iTUNES FILE, BUT IS COMPATIBLE WITH MOST iOS AND ANDROID DEVICES." It's apparently Ultraviolet only. Ick.

    I also can't stand the marketing where they show something like "DVD + Digital." Have DVDs and Blurays become analog by some sort of magic now?
    I refuse to buy discs that don't include an iTunes copy. I've never redeemed an Ultraviolet code. Having a physical disc is nice for guaranteed quality, but the convenience of a digital copy is crucial. Marvel/Disney are good about iTunes copies (but sometimes require you to buy a 3D Blu-ray in order to have the code included). Warner Bros. is not an iTunes supporter, unfortunately.

    Strange that Disney has such a strong relationship with Apple, supports iTunes digital copies, and yet isn't offering 4K films on iTunes. I realize their 4K library is slim (just Guardians of the Galaxy 2), but why not offer that film in 4K?
  • Reply 13 of 15
    So few movies these days offer the iItunes code anymore. iTunes lost that battle long ago.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    nhughes said:
    Strange that Disney has such a strong relationship with Apple, supports iTunes digital copies, and yet isn't offering 4K films on iTunes. I realize their 4K library is slim (just Guardians of the Galaxy 2), but why not offer that film in 4K?
    It may be that Disney is getting an early start on differentiating their own streaming service by making sure it has features/offerings not available through any other outlet.

    What I find most perplexing is what seems to me to be an effort by Apple to push users towards cloud storage instead of local. It began with iTunes Match only downloading placeholders to my devices rather than the actual files. Now I can't download a 4K movie. How does Apple benefit from that? How do *I* benefit from that? What's the payoff?

    I understand the benefit of centralized storage and delivery allowing users to easily access their content from any device. What I *don't* understand is why Apple would impose a barrier to those of us who prefer to store and manage content ourselves? The two approaches are not inherently mutually exclusive. Having the ability to download and manage files locally doesn't prevent Apple from offering the cloud method for those who prefer it.

    Until now it's been possible to sacrifice the convenience of cloud delivery to gain the benefits of local storage. This move to prevent downloads of 4K content is a step away from that. Objections based on my preferences aside, I don't understand how this is a win for either Apple or users. What am I missing?
    nhughes
  • Reply 15 of 15
    nhughes said:
    Strange that Disney has such a strong relationship with Apple, supports iTunes digital copies, and yet isn't offering 4K films on iTunes. I realize their 4K library is slim (just Guardians of the Galaxy 2), but why not offer that film in 4K?
    It may be that Disney is getting an early start on differentiating their own streaming service by making sure it has features/offerings not available through any other outlet.

    What I find most perplexing is what seems to me to be an effort by Apple to push users towards cloud storage instead of local. It began with iTunes Match only downloading placeholders to my devices rather than the actual files. Now I can't download a 4K movie. How does Apple benefit from that? How do *I* benefit from that? What's the payoff?

    I understand the benefit of centralized storage and delivery allowing users to easily access their content from any device. What I *don't* understand is why Apple would impose a barrier to those of us who prefer to store and manage content ourselves? The two approaches are not inherently mutually exclusive. Having the ability to download and manage files locally doesn't prevent Apple from offering the cloud method for those who prefer it.

    Until now it's been possible to sacrifice the convenience of cloud delivery to gain the benefits of local storage. This move to prevent downloads of 4K content is a step away from that. Objections based on my preferences aside, I don't understand how this is a win for either Apple or users. What am I missing?
    I suspect the 4K movie restriction is more of a rightsholders issue than an Apple issue. You can still locally download iTunes Match files on a device (just tap the cloud button). You can't download a 4K movie because... well, who knows. My guess: Apple needed to give something to get studios to agree to $20 purchases for digital 4K flicks (studios set the MSRP of 4K Blu-rays at like $40+). Since you can't download movies to the Apple TV anyhow, I'd guess Apple saw it as a concession they could live with.
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