Apple Faces Delay in “Replay” Movie Service

by Matt Klassen on August 9, 2011

It certainly didn’t take long for Apple to corner the cloud-based music market, unveiling its iCloud music service earlier this summer that lets users store their music libraries on Apple’s third party servers, which in turn allows users to access that library from any and all their Apple devices.

At the time there was also speculation that Apple had a streaming cloud-based movie service in the works as well, a sort of iMovies project, and there has been some corroboration of that when news broke recently regarding Apple’s “Replay” project. But will we see this new project anytime soon?

Despite the fact that rumours about the impending release of such a streaming movie service have been flooding the Web, it looks like the hype is premature. In fact, the difficult task of securing the licensing agreements from major record labels for its iCloud service is quickly proving to be a veritable cake walk compared to the hard uphill battle Apple faces in acquiring distribution rights from the country’s top six film studios, and here’s why….

First off, what is Apple’s proposed movie service all about? More than just a cloud movie service Apple’s new project, dubbed “iTunes Replay,” is rumoured to allow users to re-download and stream content they’ve purchased onto multiple authorized Apple devices. The content itself would include Hollywood movies and purchased TV shows, in addition to the ability to re-download previously purchased songs and applications as well. But as mentioned, Apple has hit a licensing snag.

So what’s standing in the way of Apple securing electronic distribution rights from the top six film studios in the country? In a word—or two words—“Time Warner,” or more specifically, HBO, who is owned by the aforementioned media conglomerate, and who happens to hold exclusive rights to any streaming film content from three of the six major studios.

In a shrewd move well before its time, and certainly well before the public had ever heard of third party server-based cloud technologies, HBO secured the electronic distribution rights from Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros, a deal that would obviously restrict the studios from signing an agreement with Apple for the appropriate licenses needed for its new cloud movie service.

It’s unclear just how long HBO’s electronic distribution exclusivity agreement will remain in place, but one thing is clear, as long as it does HBO’s parent company Time Warner will be able to dictate the direction and development of this new niche market.

That said, if Apple and HBO should find some common ground, there’s no question it would be a real boon to the former’s burgeoning cloud based services, as having the ability to stream popular HBO shows would give Apple a serious advantage over the likes of Netflix, who continues to endure a veritable HBO embargo.

In the meantime though, the Apple streaming movie project has hit a snag, although still don’t be surprised if Apple “finds” a way to get things done come September to coincide with the introduction of the newest member of the iPhone family.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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