Apple prepping iTunes Replay on-demand video service

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

  • Reply 1 of 59
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 59
    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...
  • Reply 3 of 59
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 59
    galleygalley Posts: 971member
    If this turns out to be some kind of video subscription service, then this is huge.
  • Reply 5 of 59
    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?
  • Reply 6 of 59
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 59
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,216member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 59
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 59
    freenyfreeny Posts: 128member
    This would also cut down on pirating.

    less copies out in the wild the less of a chance they are distributed illegally.
  • Reply 10 of 59
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 59
    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).
  • Reply 12 of 59
    Why is everyone ok with buying things they won't own?
  • Reply 13 of 59
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 59
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 59
    freenyfreeny Posts: 128member
    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
  • Reply 16 of 59
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 59
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 59
    This is a necessary step if digital media is to ever overtake physical media.
  • Reply 19 of 59
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,594member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 59
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Video On-Demand for pay?

    Sounds like an Apple Porn website.
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