Apparently Apple has been able to strong-arm at least two of the major networks to provide content for its new 99-cent TV show rental plan. The Wall Street Journal is referencing unnamed sources to report that ABC and Fox have both agreed to the new price point, which would allow users to watch an episode of the show for 99 cents but would have no access to watch it again after 24 hours.
The question is whether or not customers are so cash-strapped that they would prefer to save one measly dollar in sacrifice of being able to build up their digital TV library.
Digital movie rentals have been around for years. But in that market, it costs $15 to $20 to own a lifetime license to a digital copy of a movie, and only $2 - $3 to rent it. Now that's a cost savings.
Because the universal price point of $1.99 to download full access to a TV show always seemed like a pretty low price, no one ever tried implementing a rental platform.
It would be easy enough for iTunes to do, since its renting DRM (digital rights management) already exists for movies. It's just a matter of getting TV providers to sign on. Admittedly, they'll be the ones on the short end of the deal because customers who would have gladly paid $2 even if they only wanted to watch the episode one time, will now only pay $1.
The news falls into place as Apple is preparing to launch its new still-unnamed streaming TV box that will let users view their iTunes content on their TV.