Apple has been planning to launch a new cloud-based movie streaming service, which would allow you to re-download your movie purchases to other devices for no extra charge. The service, a part of “iTunes Replay,” was originally planned to launch within “the coming weeks,” according to multiple reports.
But now it seems that will not be the case.
The movie downloading service would have been similar to the newly added feature on Apple TVs which allows you to stream any TV show episode that you had previously purchased using your iTunes account. These shows appear in the “Purchased” section of the iTunes store on desktop and mobile, as well as on the Apple TV itself.
After this feature was added through a recent software update for the Apple TV, there was hope that support for movies was just around the corner.
Unfortunately, that support may be a long time coming.
According to CNET, citing multiple film industry sources, Apple has yet to sign agreements with four of the top six movie studios, and negotiations could continue for many months.
One of the problems has to do with the “HBO Window” – the period of time after a movie’s release on DVD during which HBO has the exclusive electronic distribution rights to the films. HBO has deals with three of the six major studios, 20th Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros., which means only HBO can stream their movies within that designated time frame. iTunes cannot offer streaming access to these movies at the same time.
While such a blackout period wouldn’t necessarily prevent Apple from launching a cloud-based movie streaming service, it would make the service less attractive to consumers. However, it would not prevent Apple from signing deals with the studios not tied to HBO: Disney, Paramount, and Sony Pictures. Apple could choose to rollout a mixed offering, where some studio releases are available before others, even though they both arrived on DVD at the same time.
Image credit: MacRumors