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Apple kills TV rentals, subscription offer not coming

Apple just dropped 99-cent rentals of TV shows, the latest sign that Apple is not going to be offering a subscription service anytime soon.

ABC and Fox were the only two networks that agreed to rent TV shows for 99 cents at iTunes and the amount of shows was limited.
Greg Sandoval/CNET

Apple has done away with the 99-cent video rentals of TV shows it began offering last year via the Apple TV and iTunes.

Despite Apple's best efforts, most of the top networks weren't willing to offer shows for that price. News Corp.-owned Fox Television and Disney's ABC were the only two majors that were involved and even they offered a limited amount of content at 99 cents.

Now does this sound like the studios are willing to back a new subscription service from Apple or for anyone else for that matter? No. Don't put any stock in the rumors that began circulating today. My sources at the studios said three weeks ago that an Apple subscription service is not coming anytime soon, if ever.

The Hollywood studios and TV networks don't want another Netflix. Look around. They're trying to stuff that genie back into the bottle. The talk coming out of Hollywood is about raising prices for content and offering Netflix less, not more. They don't want to discount content just because it's on the Web.

There is no consensus in Hollywood about anything, but a large number of decision makers want to see their shows and films offered online on a pay-per-view basis as they try to protect their margins.

In addition, the execs I spoke with said Apple hasn't really talked about subscription --although one of the sources said Apple has at one time or another discussed numerous business models. One thing others and I have reported now for more than a year is that Apple indeed is focusing on a cloud offer, where users access video content from Apple's servers.

"iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows," said Tom Neumayr, an Apple spokesman in a statement this afternoon. "iTunes in the Cloud lets customers download and watch their past TV purchases from their iOS devices, Apple TV, Mac, or PC allowing them to enjoy their programming whenever and however they choose."