Let me just say it: there is a perfect market for iTunes movie rentals. It's the same market that Netflix or VOD sales addresses, the same audience that prefers (or is limited to) staying at home rather than a night out at the movies. You know who we are -- the stroller patrol, the breeder bastion, the Momfia... the parents. We crave entertainment, and we're willing to pay for it, but our evenings are squeezed to the point of nonexistence. By the time the offspring are fed and watered, tucked away in their beds, we might only have an hour or two's worth of 'we' time to enjoy a feature film. If someone wakes up and needs 15 minutes of settling back to bed, well, forget it. With the 24-hour watch time limitation on iTunes movies, tomorrow night, when we might have another chance to view our movie, it's too late.
Thus, opinionated folk such as David Pogue, Rob Griffiths, Glenn Fleishman, and our reader Marshall (his open letter to Apple is reproduced at the end of this post) all concur that some form of extension past the 24-hour limit makes great sense to parents and great sense to Apple's rental market. I join my voice to theirs, and offer this modest proposal: Add a $0.50 surcharge for a 6-hour extension, or $1 for a 12-hour bump. Make the extra time optional -- you'd still have to decide and pay for it at rental time, not add it on after renting the movie, as the DRM challenges of a shifting finish line + multiple playback devices are probably too much to handle. I bet that parents of young kids, or families with variable evening schedules, would fork over the extra spare change to extend their rental times, and let's remember that those couple of quarters are pure profit (it costs the same in encoding and bandwidth for a 36-hour movie to download as for a 24-hour movie). I'd gladly take the extra time for free, but if you've got to add a modest surcharge I'll swallow my pride.
Give me a 36-hour rental and I promise this: I will buy an Apple TV and I will start renting movies on it. That's $225, cash on the barrel, plus what I'll spend on the flicks. Who's with me?