Apple wants exclusive early access to movies on iTunes from Hollywood studios


It appears that Apple is in talks with several major Hollywood studios in a bid to expand its iTunes business by offering earlier access to new movies. Such a move is perfectly synchronized with the desire of several big names in the business such as Warner Bros., Universal Pictures and 21st Century Fox to offer premium, high-priced video rentals of new motion pictures as early as two weeks after their theatrical debuts.

It is only natural for film producers to look for new ways to make their products widely available, as profits from home-video and cinema attendance are not exactly “booming” nowadays. New growth could be achieved if a deal of this magnitude is materialized and if Apple lands the contract, iTunes can quickly become a valid alternative or even surpass video streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Video.

All of this might sound like a fresh approach that could offer convenience to a lot of people, but it's important to repeat that we're talking about a premium service that could cost from $25 to $50 per rental. While this price could be regarded as high if a single individual rents a movie, a group or family of 2+ could easily save money considering expenses for tickets and consumables like popcorn, drinks and sweets.

Naturally, theater chains are not going to be exactly thrilled with the news and could potentially attempt to either slow down or stop any developments into that direction. The common practice is that movie studios provide cinemas with exclusive rights to their creations for at least 90 days before issuing them on Blu-ray/DVD or online. This is something that the motion picture industry has been struggling with for quite some time, but a solution that benefits each party has to be found in order for profits to rise.

Piracy is the other main concern that could influence such proceedings. Apple does encrypt its video files on iTunes, but something as simple as pointing a camera at the screen and recording what's on it can severely compromise returns for both cinema owners and the studios.

In order to ensure a safe experience for everyone, Apple would have to ramp up security measures. Furthermore, the California-based tech giant is not the only one courting producers for such exclusive rights – Sean Parker, the founder of Napster has been involved with a similar project called Screening Room. Screening Room uses a watermark technology when streaming, and it is claimed that piracy can be prevented this way by enabling the source of a potential leak to be quickly discovered.

A lot of money is involved in this issue, making it very sensitive. Depending on the taken approach, things can either go really well or extremely bad as far as revenue is concerned. One thing is clear though – the world has moved on and new ways must be found in order to entice the customer of today. 

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