updated 11:05 pm EST, Wed December 26, 2007
Apple, Fox iTunes rentals
Apple has reportedly signed 20th Century Fox to a new rental service that it is starting, allowing users to rent new releases by the studio, providing a download that expires after a given amount of time. According to The Financial Times, Fox studios will be the first of many to provide media for this rental service, and will also be the first to use Apple's own FairPlay protection service outside of its own products, such as iTunes and the iPod. In addition to offering the rentals, Fox will be including a FairPlay-encoded version of the film with each of its physical DVD products, effectively allowing users to rip an iPod-quality version of the film that can not be distributed on the internet.
In addition to a probable increase in iTunes subscriptions, Apple also stands to gain additional sales of its video-capable iPod nano, Classic, and Touch media players.
While this is not the only online video rental service that exists, iTunes' broad range of appeal will certainly give weight to the deal, which will most likely result in more studios signing up to offer the same type of content. "Fox and potentially other studios are coming around to the idea that there is nobody out there to challenge iTunes," said Jonathan Weitz, a principal with IBB Consulting. "This deal is a sign that media mobility is coming to the mainstream."
Walt Disney is so far the only company selling new releases through the iTunes store, with Paramount, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Lionsgate selling many of their older titles.
The deal will supposedly be announced in an official manner at the Macworld Expo on January 14th, and looks to shake the foundations of current media distribution techniques. Apple is understood to be in talks with Sony, Paramount, and Warner Brothers about similar deals, but none of the parties involved could comment on the situation.