Apple is said to have signed a deal with 20th Century Fox that will see video rentals on iTunes.
According to FT.com the deal will be officially announced at MacWorld on January 14. The same report also says that Apple is in talks with Sony Pictures Entertainment, Paramount and Warner Bros along similar lines.
Speculation of Apple offering video rentals via iTunes has been around for a long time and is seen as a natural next step for iTunes. We reported in June that the iTunes rental service will charge $2.99 for a 30 day rental, but final details have not been disclosed. Code to support rentals in iTunes was discovered in November.
After a year where Apple was portrayed as the bogeyman by companies such as NBC (who have now withdrawn their content), this is a big win for Apple. Another interesting part is News Corp appearing to continue to hedge its bets; on one hand it joined with NBC to launch Hulu, billed as an iTunes alternative, and yet they continue to deal with Apple directly as well. If Murdoch isn’t prepared to dump Apple and join with NBC exclusively, what does this say about what he thinks about the future of online video? Certainly from the outside its says that Apple/ iTunes is still the biggest and best game in town, and the place to be if you want to profit from your content online. It would also suggest that NBC’s strategy of not dealing with Apple may be bound to fail.