Apple reportedly is close to reaching deals with News Corp. and Walt Disney Co. to provide 48-hour rentals of TV shows -- priced at 99 cents -- through iTunes within one day of broadcast.
Apple is hoping to secure the new agreements for ABC and Fox programs in time for the launch of a revamped $99 Apple TV set-top designed for streaming video over the Internet directly to televisions, to debut Sept. 7, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing anonymous sources.
Currently, Apple's iTunes Store offers many episodes of TV shows for download, typically priced at $1.99 each. The current generation of Apple TV units let users play movies, TV shows and music purchased through iTunes as well as photos on their televisions. Apple hasn't disclosed how many it has sold but the product is assumed to be a disappointment, especially relative to the success of the iPhone and iPad devices.
Such a rental service from Apple -- which apparently would be stocked only with broadcast TV content -- would compete most directly with the proposed subscription plan from Hulu, the joint venture of Disney, News Corp. and NBC Universal.
Dubbed Hulu Plus, that service would let customers access the current seasons of more than 30 broadcast shows plus library content for $9.99 per month on devices including Apple's iPad and iPhone, and Samsung TVs and Blu-ray disc players.
News Corp.'s Fox is "receptive" to the plan and Disney and Apple are "nearing an agreement" for the 99-cent rentals, according to The Wall Street Journal. However, CBS is unlikely to jump on board, and NBC Universal and Viacom don't plan to participate, the newspaper reported.
Last year Apple attempted to acquire content for a monthly subscription plan for popular TV shows -- floating a $30 per month price point -- but reportedly faced resistance to that idea from programmers.