Amazon beats Apple, offers 99-cent TV show purchases for ABC and Fox

The big news Wednesday was that Apple announced a collection of new iPods, a new streaming Apple TV -- and to go along with all of that technology, 99-cent HD TV show rentals from ABC and FOX. While Apple and many other TV networks can't agree on the pricing scheme, namely how much each party gets, Amazon has responded by dropping the price of purchasing HD TV Shows from ABC and Fox to 99 cents.

It's still to early too state whether the industry as a whole will concede to 99-cent HD TV show rentals, or purchases. But it looks as though Apple may once again set the price for an entire type of media; just as it did with MP3 files. The current pricing on Amazon, which allows users to keep and watch the TV shows, instead of renting them, could also increase the pressure to sell TV shows for 99 cents. The Internet superstore is also known for setting the price of eBooks at $9.99, a price many consumers have come to expect, even as publishers try to sell eBooks at higher prices.
The 99-cent TV Shows on Amazon can be watched on your PC or Mac as well as your TV by a collection of devices and Internet enabled HDTVs, many of which consumers already have in their home, or can purchase for $50 to $70. The most notable omission in for these TV show purchases from Amazon is that users cannot view them on their iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad because the purchases have copy protection software that limits what you can do with your purchase.

In comparison, the Apple TV is $99 and the rentals will work on your other Apple devices as well as your Mac or PC. The Apple TV also allows users to use their iPhone or iPad as a remote and stream local content to the HDTV.

For users who already have a device that works with Amazon, this price drop negates the need to purchase new hardware, but for new users looking for their first streaming device for the living room, Apple TV and 99-cent rentals is worth investigating.

The prospect of "owning" an HDTV show episode seems enticing, compared to a 24 hour rental for the same price. But before you make a snap purchase, consider the limitations placed on your ownership of a DRM'd file from Amazon and whether you really want to watch that episode of "Glee" for the rest of your life. In most if not all cases, 24 hours is long enough.

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