HBO Warms to Apple's iCloud Service
Last week during their company announcements, Apple stated that five major movie studios have agreed to allow their movies to work with Apple’s iCloud service. This new agreement would allow iTunes consumers to purchase a film on one device and view it on another. Getting these agreements has proven to be difficult, making both sides work tirelessly together.
That being said, there’s still one major roadblock in Apple’s plan for their movie downloading service: Time Warner’s HBO.
Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox license their movies to HBO – in their deals are restrictions barring the movies from working with Apple’s iCloud service. The deal specifies that HBO has exclusive rights to the studio's movies during a specific time-frame after each film has been released.
An example of what’s preventing this would be if a user had previously purchased a title on iTunes, then decided later on (during HBO’s exclusive time-frame) to watch it. This would potentially violate HBO’s exclusive rights.
HBO pays hundreds of millions of dollars a year to secure their exclusive time-frame, and have no intentions of releasing them. That said, HBO is relaxing their terms, to allow iCloud (and other service's) users to see movies during HBO’s exclusive time-frame.
HBO agreed to loosen its arrangement with Warner Bros., which is currently working with Apple’s iCloud service, and is in talks with Universal and Fox to do the same.
A source close to the matter expects Fox to resolve the issue within the next few weeks – another source has stated Universal is near a resolution as well.
New technologies like iCloud are making these conflicts between studios and content providers more obvious. Pressuring traditional media businesses to rewrite their agreements - movie studios want consumers to buy more digital-movie downloads as DVD sales shrink and digital rental and subscription services knowing that these sales come with reduced profits for the studios.