Apple on Friday quietly removed its 99-cent TV show rentals from the iTunes Store.
The decision comes just days after CEO Steve Jobs resigned, signaling the company could be looking to simplify its product offerings or just showing off its willingness to cut less-successful product offerings.
Rentals had cost 99 cents per episode. Customers who want to watch TV episodes through iTunes and their iOS-enabled devices now only have the option purchase individual shows, which run $2 for the standard-def version or $3 for an HD episode.
Episode rentals were introduced last September when Apple announced its revamped $99 Apple TV device, which acts as a set top box to deliver content to TVs. The official Apple TV product page used to highlight TV rentals, but all mention of them have now been removed.
Apple has indicated that customers were not renting that many episodes, and usually opted to buy shows.
“iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD. “iTunes in the Cloud lets customers download and watch their past TV purchases from their iOS devices, Apple TV, Mac or PC allowing them to enjoy their programming whenever and however they choose.”
Another reason customers likely weren’t renting many episodes from iTunes is because of services like Hulu and Netflix. Hulu has many current TV episodes free to watch, while its Hulu Plus service costs $7.99 for many full episode catalogs. Netflix costs $7.99 a month to stream as much TV and movies as you’d like, though its streaming collection is often lacking.
Rumors have also been swirling that Apple will manufacture its own television set that incorporates its iOS operating system, with a targeted release some time in 2012. The proposed device would be a tool for delivering new video technology.
Apple has also been rumored for some time to be interested in tailored television subscriptions. Getting rid of TV rentals works in tandem with this idea, but most likely the company wanted to exit because there was so little demand.
Did you ever use iTunes TV rentals? Are you surprised or disappointed that they’ve been discontinued?