It seems even 99-cents wasn’t a low-enough price to tempt consumers into renting individual episodes of TV shows from iTunes. Apple has now ended the experiment and it’s a Buy-Only world once more.
99-Cent TV Shows
Last year saw Apple aggressively pushing for television studios to offer the latest episodes of their biggest shows for rental through iTunes for the low price of just 99-cents. Steve Jobs, who has now resigned as CEO of the company, thought price would be the key in persuading people to rent rather than buy.
Unfortunately there were few takers. Of the big four networks only Fox and ABC were on board, with CBS and NBC opting out. Time Warner was vehemently against the idea of offering content so cheaply.
It seems consumers didn’t really take to the idea either. Then again, if the content had been there in the first place then perhaps things would have turned out differently.
Rental Option Disappears
The option to rent TV shows has now disappeared from iTunes, although movies are still on offer. The experiment lasted around a year but Apple and its content partners clearly felt it hadn’t had the impact they were all hoping it would. Consequently, it is no longer an option.
Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD:
“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.”
As suggested, this is likely a result of iTunes Replay, or iTunes in the Cloud, which lets you watch content you previously purchased on any iOS device as well as Apple TV, Mac, and PC. Why bother renting when you can buy and continue to watch time and again across a range of products?
I can’t help feeling this was a missed opportunity, but by who I’m not sure. Perhaps the time of rentals is over, as we all now either want to own content outright or pay a monthly subscription fee to access it on demand as and when we want to. Which is surely Apple’s next trick.
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