Universal, Fox Studios to Join iCloud Soon

iCloud Fox and Universal

Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox, the two major holdouts from Apple’s new movie component of iCloud, may soon be available for Apple customers following an agreement with HBO, according to the Wall Street Journal.

During Apple’s announcement last Wednesday, movies were added to Apple’s iCloud service, joining TV Shows and Music, allowing users to stream films purchased from iTunes (as well as select digital copies obtained via purchases of physical DVDs and Blu-Rays) to any iOS 5 device, including Apple TV. While the service launched with support from major studies such as Lions Gate, Sony, Disney, Paramount, and Warner Bros., notably absent were Universal and Fox due to licensing agreements that those studios had in place with Time Warner-owned premium network HBO.

While the network produces some excellent original programming, HBO also obtains agreements with major studios to provide exclusive broadcast and streaming rights to certain films for a period of time following their DVD release. This arrangement was initially thought to prohibit studios from offering their films via the iCloud service, as a user would potentially have the opportunity to stream a particular film from iCloud during HBO’s exclusivity period. 

Thankfully, HBO appears to be amenable to loosening the terms of its agreements with studios to allow customers to stream their purchased content via services like iCloud. Key to the agreement is the distinction between iCloud, where users purchase films individually, and other streaming services, such as Netflix, where users pay a flat fee for access to multiple films.

The Wall Street Journal believes that Universal is “near a resolution” with HBO while Fox should resolve the issue “within weeks.”