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Apple Cancels TV Episode Rental Service

Apple has cancled all $0.99 TV episode rental services from iTunes and Apple TV. The option to rent individual TV episodes from participating networks has disappeared from both the second-generation Apple TV and the iTunes Store on the Mac and PC.

You’re probably asking yourself: Why? The answer seems fairly simple: Since Apple has now added the ability to buy and stream TV shows through the Apple TV, the idea of renting a TV episode no longer seems necessary, as simply purchasing the episode for $2.99/$3.99 gets you permanent access.

You can also buy a “Season Pass” for an entire year’s worth of shows. According to AllThingsD, Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said that iTunes customers have shown that they prefer buying TV shows over renting them. With the recent introduction of Apple’s iTunes in the Cloud service, customers can download and watch their past purchases from any of their iOS devices, computer, or Apple TV.

Now let’s see what people think of Apple giving up the ghost:

  • I’m not sure what the 99 cent rentals refers to but when I was purchasing episodes of Fringe and Justified (both Fox shows) last season the prices were $1.99 for SD and $2.99 for HD. The exact same content was available on iTunes and Amazon if I used my HTPC but when streaming to my front projector set-up I used my Roku XD which meant iTunes was not an option. Occasionally I would watch these shows on cable but found the incessant commercials too annoying and would go back to watching them a day later on Amazon VOD.
  • When you ‘buy’ a show or episode, do the agreements mention anything about how long you actually own (or more likely, ‘have a license to view’) it? It only takes one disagreement between a studio and streaming service to find your ‘bought’ streaming shows to suddenly be unavailable. Or if the streaming service goes under, you are screwed.

If seems the rental idea has been thrown out the window, and now the only available option is to purchase content. As always, we’ll have to wait and see how this goes.