Apple near deal for TV show rentals?

Rumors started last month that Apple was making a hard push
to begin offering streaming rentals of recent television programming for 99
cents. Now those whispers are beginning to solidify a bit.

that the Cupertino-based company is in advanced talks with News
Corp. for 99-cent rentals – and CBS and Disney are engaged in similar
discussions with Apple.

Rentals would last for 48 hours, according to the report, and
would give Apple users access to some of TV’s most-watched programs. Assuming
it follows the same pattern as the app store, the a la carte plan would let
users watch the rentals on multiple devices, including the iPhone, iPad and an
expected revamp of AppleTV.

It’s an interesting push for both Apple and the networks –
and could expand the footprint of mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad. But,
assuming it’s true, the move does raise some questions. Most pressing would be
the impact this could have on Hulu’s subscription service.

Hulu Plus charges users $10 per month to access current and
archived programming – including many recently aired shows. It’s a price that
has been criticized by some, since those shows still include commercial breaks.
A big push by Apple and the networks could derail some of Hulu Plus’s momentum,
despite its all-you-can-eat model.

Terms of the deal would also be interesting to learn – as networks
could easily double down by offering the same pricing to video game console
owners and other smartphone providers. The question is: Will Apple let them or demand exclusivity for its devices?

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