Television show rentals on iTunes could drop sharply in price when Apple launches the next version of Apple TV.
Apple TV is a somewhat obscure product that Apple has dubbed a “hobby.” It’s essentially a set-top box for accessing iTunes content, and users can also install software such as Boxee to stream media from the Internet.
But rumor has it that Apple’s preparing to revamp the product, and NewTeeVee reports that cheap, streaming iTunes TV rentals could be part of the pitch. The site’s anonymous sources say streams could cost $1 each, compared to the current download price of $2 for standard definition shows, and $3 for high definition shows. Each stream would be available for 30 days from purchase, and then for 24 hours once viewing begins.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about $1 iTunes shows; a similar story appeared in February, when Apple appeared to be testing a select number of shows for $1. But those were downloads, not streams.
The new report backs up numerous clues that Apple is moving towards streaming content. Most significantly, Engadget reported in May that Apple would embrace the cloud with a stripped-down Apple TV for $99. The new set-top box will reportedly have an iPhone-based operating system and very little room for local media. Apple also acquired streaming music service Lala before shutting it down in May.
Despite all the rumors and behind-the-scenes action, Apple hasn’t actually done anything yet, and neither NewTeeVee nor Engadget reported a timeline for Apple TV or $1 iTunes videos. But with Google TV on the way this year, Apple can’t sit on its side-project for too long if it doesn’t want to lose more ground to its newfound rival.