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SYDNEY — Apple’s iTunes Store on Thursday became the first online service in Australia and New Zealand to offer downloadable movies day-and-date with their local DVD release.
Users of iTunes or Apple TV in Australia will be able to rent new releases for AUS$5.99 ($5.25) and library titles for AUS$3.99 ($3.47) — undercutting local bricks and mortar video rental shops by about AUS$2.
More than 700 new and library movies will be available to rent or buy via iTunes through deals Apple signed with 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros., MGM, Sony Pictures Television International and Lionsgate.
New release features will sell on iTunes for AUS$24.99 ($21.75), slightly less than the cost of a DVD at a major discount chain.
While the Australian movie downloads market is still in its infancy, the iTunes launch caps a flurry of online activity over the last two months, which saw the introduction of TV downloads on iTunes and the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s launch of the nation’s first IPTV service.
Telco Telstra Corp. has been operating its Bigpond Movies online rental service with a library of 4,000 titles since 2006.
Major DVD retailers EzyDVD and Video Ezy also have announced plans to launch their own movie download services later this year.
The iTunes service — which includes more than 100 films available in high definition — will be available to about 60% of Australian homes with a broadband connection, a market expected to grow by 70% by the end of the year.
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