updated 06:00 am EDT, Wed June 4, 2008
iTunes UK gets movies
Confirming earlier reports, Apple on Wednesday began offering film downloads and rentals to UK customers and doubled the period to watch rented movies from 24 hours to 48 hours. Movies from major film studios including 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Entertainment, MGM, Sony Pictures and Lionsgate UK are now available on the iTunes Store in the UK. Unlike the same day as DVD deal announced in early May in the US, the UK deal also includes titles from MGM. Apple said the iTunes Store in the UK features over 700 films available for rent or purchase, with titles available for purchase on the same day as their DVD release, including Hitman, I Am Legend, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets and Into the Wild. iTunes UK also features over 100 titles available for rent.
"We're kicking off movies on the iTunes Store in the UK with over 700 films for purchase and rent," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of iTunes. "We think customers in the UK are going to love being able to enjoy their favorite movies on their iPod, iPhone or on a widescreen TV with Apple TV."
With iTunes Movie Rentals, once a movie is rented, it starts downloading from the iTunes Store directly to iTunes or Apple TV, and users with a fast Internet connection can start viewing the movie in seconds. Customers have up to 30 days to start watching it, and once a movie has been started customers have 48 hours to finish it—or watch it multiple times. Previously, customers had only 24 hours to finish watching a movie; however, it is not yet known if this rental restriction change applies movies rented in the US.
Movie purchases and rentals from the iTunes Store for Mac or Windows require iTunes 7.6.2 and iTunes movie purchases and rentals require a valid credit card with a billing address in the United Kingdom. iTunes movies are available at £6.99 for library title purchases and £10.99 for new releases. iTunes Movie Rentals are £2.49 for library title rentals and £3.49 for new releases (with high definition versions priced at one pound (£1) more and only available on Apple TV). Movie rentals can be previewed, purchased and watched on iPod classic, iPod nano with video, iPod touch, iPhone and on a widescreen TV with Apple TV.
In January Apple announced it had a US deal for movie rentals, with each title costing between $3 and $4 for consumers to access for a 30-day period, while movie purchases could cost as much as $15.
Apple, however, failed to meet its self-imposed goal of 1000 iTunes movie rental titles by the end of February. Reports indicated that the Cupertino-based company nearly achieved its promise of 100 HD movie rentals, with only 91 hi-definition movie rentals and under 400 standard titles available for rent by the end of February.