In a nutshell, iTunes Replay is an extension to what Apple is already doing with iCloud and free re-downloads of previously purchased music. As Apple secures the remaining rights, TV Shows as well as Movies in iTunes will be given little arrow indicating whether they’re “iTunes Replay eligible”, that is, available to be downloaded again. Note that some content will unfortunately only be available to download five times and we don’t know how streaming will count towards that limit.
I’m not sure I see this as big news. Apple has already announced this functionality for other iTunes purchased content. It all comes down to rights, I suppose, and the movie industry is a fickle bunch. The interesting tidbit a few paragraphs down is this:
The feature will be giving users access to movies they bought as far back as January 1st 2009, and all of this will be available to stream on the Apple TV, and probably iOS as well. It’s not clear however what Apple has planned for the desktop in this regard.
If this is true, then it looks like Hollywood is again throwing up arbitrary roadblocks for customers. Why not all movie purchases?
The inclusion of TV shows in the iCloud strategy is great- I’ve been using it over the past few days since Apple quietly rolled it out. A simple Apple TV update allows me to navigate a Netflix-like menu of all show purchases I’ve made on the store. I can also re-download any episode on my iOS device, which then syncs back to iTunes (I would imagine that an upcoming iTunes update will allow me to do this directly on the Mac). Here’s one more cool thing: when TV shows first went live on the iTunes Store, I purchased season 1 of LOST to play on my iPod 5G- it was 320 x 240 4:3, a pretty low quality affair. I now have access to the full 16:9 SD files to stream and download.
The iCloud strategy is really starting to come into focus. You no longer need to hoard gigabytes of downloaded TV content in the fear that you won’t be able to download them again if your files go missing. After playing around with this on various devices I went to my iTunes library and deleted purchased seasons of Mad Men, freeing up disk space. I’ll watch them again at some point, but that point is no time soon, and when I’m ready they’ll be floating in the cloud.
That’s assuming iCloud is here to stay. Full disclosure: I also backed up my purchases to an external drive. Just in case.