Apple iTunes Movie Re-Downloads Not Coming Soon, Report Says
By Ian Paul
Apple and the movie studios are a long way off from a deal that would allow you to stream or redownload your iTunes movie purchases to any PC or iOS device, according to the latest rumors. The buzz comes after last week’s claims that a new service called iTunes Replay–that puts your iTunes movie purchases in the cloud–was on the verge of launching. While the service sounds like a great idea, Apple has yet to secure deals with at least four of the six major Hollywood film studios, according to CNET. Rumors of iTunes Replay first surfaced in 2009.
The latest rumors about iTunes Replay were first reported by App Advice last Wednesday. The basic idea behind Replay is that Apple would allow you to re-download almost any movie purchased after January 2009. You would also be able to stream your content to your Mac or Windows PC and possibly iOS devices; however, the report was less clear about how streaming would work.
You can already stream rented iTunes movie and TV Show content to your Apple TV. And recent changes to Apple’s set-top box allow you to now purchase television shows instead of just rent. You can also stream previously purchased TV episodes to your set-top box directly from Apple’s servers.
While Apple TV users have enjoyed iTunes streaming, other iTunes-compatible devices have so far been left out of Apple’s streaming party.
Breaking the HBO Window
Replay is being held up, as CNET describes it, at least in part by the HBO window–a period of time when HBO has the exclusive digital distribution rights for movies from Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, and Universal. The HBO window would presumably make it difficult for Apple to give you access to previously purchased content via Replay. The pay-TV agreement also prevents current services such as Amazon video on demand and Netflix from delivering premium titles during HBO’s exclusive distribution period. The HBO window usually exists six months after the official DVD release and can last as long as eighteen months, according to The Wrap.
While the HBO window might be annoying right now, it appears the rest of the movie and film distribution industries want to see the agreement disappear. The end of the HBO window would clearly make like easier for Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and other digital distributors. But the movie studios are also anxious to get off the ground with their “buy once, stream everywhere” scheme dubbed UltraViolet.
Movies appear to be the last major holdout for iTunes content flying completely into the cloud. Apple announced in June that you will be able to re-download music with the advent of iCloud and iOS 5 this fall, and recent changes reportedly make TV shows directly accessible across your iTunes-compatible devices.