Apple Pulls TV Show Rentals from Apple TV, iTunes

Apple's TV Business
Less than a year after it was introduced with great fanfare, Apple Inc. has quietly ended what one TV studio referred to as the TV show rental “trial.” iTunes customers and Apple TV users will no longer find the option to rent TV shows for US$0.99, though movie rentals are still available. Customers can still buy both TV shows and Movies.

On that note, it is the idea of buying TV shows that both Fox TV and an Apple spokesperson focused on when responding to AllThingsD about the abrupt and quiet removal of the TV rental option.

“iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD. “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.”

Fox TV released a statement, in which it said, “After carefully considering the results of the rental trial, it became clear that content ownership is a more attractive long-term value proposition both for iTunes customers and for our business. To further enhance the value of ownership, we are working with Apple to make content available within their new cloud-based service.”

So it would appear as if there wasn’t enough interest from consumers in renting their shows to justify the service for either Apple or Fox.

One of the interesting aspects of this is that this reality actually matches what Apple and former CEO Steve Jobs said for years and years when it comes to music: People want to own their music, not rent it. While it was the same Steve Jobs that reportedly lobbied heavily for the TV studios and networks to allow Apple to launch a TV rental service.

For instance, when he was on stage with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher in June of 2010 for D, he said that his position was, “Price it aggressively and go for volume.” He was technically speaking to the subject of journalism, but the TV rental “trial” seemed to fit into that model, too.

The other interesting aspect of this is a little tidbit from another News Corp. holding, The Wall Street Journal. In one of many mainstream reports about the challenges that lie ahead of newly ordained Apple CEO Tim Cook, the newspaper mentioned that, “Apple is working on new technology to deliver video to televisions, and has been discussing whether to try to launch a subscription TV service.”

The removal of the TV rental service could conceivably be a precursor to the launch of something new for Apple in the TV space, including a subscription service.