HBO and Hollywood Studios Warming Up to iCloud

When Apple introduced its new Apple TV last week, it also announced that customers would be able to purchase films directly on their devices and then share them. For example, a purchase could be made from an iPad, but later watched on the Apple TV.

With Apple’s iCloud capabilities, that sounds like a simple enough task, but it was anything but easy. You see, Apple had to secure deals with five major movie studios in order to allow that to happen.

Apple managed to sign iCloud deals with Lions Gate Entertainment, Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Co., Paramount Pictures, and Warner Bros., and while there are still two studios to go for complete coverage, the deals with the five above companies mean most movies are available.

Before this iCloud deal, which allows users to watch their content on any Apple device without additional fees, movie studios were hesitant to sign deals with Apple. Apple actually secured both record labels and television studios for iCloud early on, and the movie studios were the last holdouts.

Movie studios, instead, were promoting UltraViolet, a competing service that rivals Apple’s iCloud and iTunes offerings by allowing its customers to purchase a DVD or Blu-ray and watch the content on several devices.

Apple has had serious trouble with Time Warner’s HBO, because Comcast’s Universal Pictures and News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox both license their movies to the channel, and that deal prevents the studios from allowing their movies to work with iCloud.

HBO has a deal that allows it exclusive access to movies for a set time period after release (from six months to a year) and while it isn’t planning on giving up that exclusivity, it has decided to let users of iCloud and similar services send movies they already own to other devices during those time periods. It’s already allowed Warner Bros. to participate in iCloud, and is in talks with Universal and Fox for the same access.

These are just some of the barriers that Apple deals with when trying to set up content deals for its current products, and potential future products like an Apple-branded television set. Such a TV set is almost certainly contingent on the content deals that Apple is able to secure with TV and movie studios. For now, Apple’s agreements mean that its line up of products are even more appealing to consumers, who will be able to easily share content across devices. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple sold record numbers of both iPads and Apple TVs this year thanks to iCloud.

[via The Wall Street Journal]

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