Steve Jobs convinced the major TV networks that keeping a price offering as low as possible was key to success in this space. After pushing back for quite a while, many caved and agreed to what studios are now calling a “trial”. Jobs cited that TV show rentals would be the best way to achieve that price point sweet spot.
The removal of the rental option was abrupt, but not wildly unexpected, with Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr claiming:
“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.”
Studios, who were initially opposed to the idea, were also showing dissatisfaction with the success of TV show rentals. Content ownership will likely always outperform a rental model for digital content.
With Apple now streaming purchases from the cloud, the purchasing model has become much more attractive too. You can stream your purchases directly to your Apple TV without the need for local storage.
I am torn on the issue, as I think that $3 an episode is a bit steep for the episodes I will only watch once, though shows that I watch over and over it’s extremely fair. Doing a little quick math, and compiling the shows my wife and I can’t miss every week, we would far exceed our current cable bill if we went to a strictly iTunes model. Not to mention this is before we consider any movies we might catch on the premium channels.
Feel free to weigh in via the comments, as I’m sure there are dozens of different angles to take on the TV show rentals vs. purchases debate.