Why is Hollywood making iTunes Movie customers wait 30 days after DVD release?

“All of Hollywood’s leading film studios have agreed to sell movie rentals at iTunes, including News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Studios, Time Warner’s Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema, Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, General Electric’s Universal Studios, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate and MGM,” Louis Hau reports for Forbes.

“Customers at iTunes can rent new releases for $3.99 and older titles for $2.99, with high-definition versions available for an added $1 each,” Hau reports. “The rentals are essentially temporary downloads. After an iTunes movie is downloaded, customers have up to 30 days to start watching it. Once they hit Play, they have 24 hours to view the film as many times as they want. The movies can be viewed on video-capable iPods, TVs connected to an Apple TV box and any computer with iTunes.”

“To secure the cooperation of the studios, Jobs is demonstrating a level of flexibility that has been noticeably lacking in his prior dealings with media companies,” Hau reports.

Before yesterday, “Apple was never able to move on to a full rollout of movie downloads. Disney gave iTunes access to its full catalog of films, but other studios, such as Viacom’s Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate, have only been willing to provide some of their titles,” Hau reports. “Hollywood’s interest in protecting lucrative DVD sales and rentals, as well as revenues from on-demand cable movies, made some studios reluctant to embrace permanent downloads at iTunes.”

Full article here.

By SteveJack

The studios are trying to delay the inevitable while stupidly promoting piracy. Why do we have to wait 30 days after the DVD release to rent new titles via iTunes Store? So that Wal-Mart and Target can continue to sell DVDs, that’s why. Hollywood, you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face. What will inevitably happen is that those who really want the new release on the actual date of release will get it for free via BitTorrent. They’re not going to wait 30-days for no good reason in order to help protect Wal-Mart’s old time shiny spinning disc sales.

I’m just going off various reports and my gut here, but if you ask me, Wal-Mart is the reason why the iTunes Movies section and Apple TV languished for a year. First Wal-Mart whined, cried, and moaned to the studios. Then they denied doing so, probably because the studios told Wal-Mart, “Okay, you’ve got a year to make something work.” Then Wal-Mart launched their pile of a movie download store. Some Wal-Mart bumpkins thought they could compete with Apple and Steve Jobs because, you know, they’re Wal-Mart and they can get toilet paper and pantyhose cheaper than anybody. Then, of course, Wal-Mart’s mess of a movie download store failed due to extreme suckage. “Clean up in aisle three!” Finally, with a year wasted, the studios decided it was time to deal with Steve Jobs.

The Hollywood studios, like the music cartels, just don’t get it. Steve Jobs must get sick to his stomach having to deal with such a bunch of morons. For crying out loud, get with the program already! As Hollywood should know best, first-run features are often available online the day of — or even before — they hit the theaters, much less appear as DVDs on Wal-Mart’s shelves. Make your content accessible, price it correctly and make it unencumbered with excessive DRM limitations, and release it in timely fashion if you want us to buy. If not, many will simply take. Sorry to go all reality on you, Hollywood, but these are the facts.

I can see if the 30-day waiting period is intended as a short-term stopgap measure to smooth out the transition from the buying and renting of DVDs to iTunes Movie Sales and Rentals, but if the studios persist for too long with this artificial market manipulation (30-day wait for no good reason, except to try to protect an outmoded physical delivery medium), then the market already has the means with which punish them for their shortsightedness. And the market will punish them.

Just look at your brethren, today’s sniveling struggling music peddlers, Hollywood, and learn from their mistakes before you’re gasping for air, too.

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.


  1. Entrenched business models that will slowly erode are the reason.

    Imagine that buggy-whip makers had been super-wealthy. Cars would have probably come out with whip holders. Not that there isn’t room for that sort of thing…

  2. I suspect that the 30 days was a compromise that Steve had to live with to get all the studios on board, which was the right compromise to make. The end result is that iTunes rentals will be very helpful for older movies that are harder to find on bittorrent, but it will never compete on the new movies. The longer studios hesitate, the more people discover how easy bittorent is. And once they do, they never step foot in a video store again.

  3. when movies on vhs first came out there was a delay in titles from the time they left the theater till they hit cable then vhs, lets keep that in mind.

    i’m not saying it was right, or is now, just that this is traditionally the model hollywood studios have used time and time again when embracing new distribution tech.

    as we saw with vhs, and dvd once the tech starts to gain traction you’ll slowly see that window shrink to where it is through more traditional channels.

  4. 30 days, LOL.

    I can download it for free a couple weeks before the DVD hits shelves thanks to sweet, glorious Verizon FiOS.

    Watch it on my computer, TV, or convert with Cucusoft and put it on my iPhone.

    I’m not cheap. Don’t enjoy stealing. It’s just so damn easy, all done with a few mouse clicks. And until I get something legal that’s just as easy and instantly gratifying, I’ll continue to do it my way.

    I thought Apple would have the answer but, whether the fault of Hollywood studios or not, they certainly don’t. Even if I didn’t have to wait 30 days, between the 24 hour limitation, unwelcome rules on Apple TV (which I gladly would’ve purchased) and lack of an all you can eat subscription, I’m not paying to be hampered. Loved Daniel Eran’s Netflix-like model, he really spoiled me.

    I did rent a couple flicks to try it out and hopefully give Steve some more bargaining power should he attempt to fix this mess but it’s still business as usual.

  5. Compromises were made to ensure full participation from Day One. By the time Apple negotiates next time, it will be in a position to demand better terms. Even with the current less than ideal terms from the studios, Apple will do what it does best… make the user experience ideal.

  6. While I think its kinda dumb to have to wait 30 days. It’s on par with a lot of video on demand/pay per view. I would think that while other PPV services have to wait that long, it would be unfair to let Apple dish them out day one. This would cause havoc with other video rental services.

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