Apple TV to rent shows for 99 cents

Steve Jobs confirms Fox, ABC on board to stream HD series

SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple announced plans Wednesday to allow users to rent high-definition TV shows for just 99 cents on Apple TV.

So far, just ABC and Fox have agreed to stream their series on the set-top device, but Apple CEO Steve Jobs expects more nets to sign up soon. "ABC and Fox are taking the steps with us, offering the shows for 99 cents and we think the rest of the studios will see the light and get on board fast," he said at a press event in San Francisco.

New Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch is said to have joined the six-month pricing trial period because it will cement his relationship with Jobs, according to the Los Angeles Times, and make money for the company's newspapers, which include the New York Post and Wall Street Journal. (Although several News Corp. executives believe the low price of renting the shows -- which had previously been available for purchase on iTunes for $3.99 -- will cut into lucrative DVD sales.)

It will cost $4.99 to rent movies on Apple TV the same day they're released on DVD, and then get cheaper the longer they're available. Apple TV will also stream Netflix movies, but won't charge a monthly fee to rent movies through its own service.

Movies and TVs can be streamed into a TV in high definition. Apple TV has no storage capability; all the content will be rented. It will see a price drop from $99 to $229 and be available to purchase in about a month.

The first iteration of Apple TV flopped. "We introduced it four years ago and we sold a lot but it's never been a huge hit. Nor has any competitive product," said Jobs. "What have we learned [from Apple TV], is the No. 1, 2 and 3 thing [consumers] want is Hollywood movies and TV shows whenever they want.... The don't want amateur hour. They want professional content and they want everything in HD."

Still, consumers may not be ready to go broadband only just yet. A study by the Leichtman Research Group, which analyzed official data from cable and satellite providers, found that 1.7 million new customers signed up for cable last year alone.

Also announced on Wednesday: several new iPod players, including a Touch with a higher-resolution screen, a Nano with a touch-screen instead of click wheel, and an easier-to-use iPod Shuffle.

A social networking feature called Ping will be added to iTunes, and a new operating system for the iPad will be released in November.
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