What do you do if North Korea strong arms you into pulling a movie from release? If you're Sony, you turn to the White House in hopes of convincing Apple to release it through the iTunes Store. And if you're Apple, you blow the chance for an exclusive deal so YouTube and Xbox Video can jump in instead.
Apple misses out on first-run streaming deal, Google and Microsoft don't
Sony found itself under a critical spotlight a few days ago after deciding to drop its plans for a Christmas Day release for "The Interview," a Seth Rogan and James Franco comedy movie about two men who travel to North Korea to try to assassinate Kim Jong Un. After hackers broke into Sony's servers, terror threats targeting theaters were made, and theaters planning on showing the movie backed out, the company decided to pull the release.
That wasn't, however, the end of the line for The Interview. smaller theater chains will show the movie in limited releases around the country, and apparently Sony turned to the Obama administration in hopes of pushing through a fast deal to get the movie on the iTunes Store in time for Christmas viewing.
The company had hoped to get a single partner to team up with for the release, and was pushing for a deal with Apple, according to the New York Times. Apple didn't seem interested in working something out on Sony's hyper-fast time table, so it looks like you won't be able to watch The Interview on your iPad or Apple TV come Christmas Day.
Striking a deal with Apple could've been a big deal for the iTunes Store and Apple TV, but instead the movie will show on YouTube's streaming rental service, Google Play, and Xbox Video. For Sony, it's a win because the movie will still get in front of viewers, and for Apple it's just egg on the face.
Without an iTunes deal, Apple looks like it's behind the curve and can't offer movies on the same scale as its competitors. Assuming the speculation about why Apple declined to swing a deal is true, it also implies that the company may not be quite so nimble at working out contract details. Either way, it's Apple that misses out and when "The Interview" is finally available through the iTunes Store it'll feel more like a "me, too" follower move than a first-run deal.