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More murmuring about 99 cent iTunes TV rentals


Well now. The previous rumor about 99 cent rentals for TV episodes on iTunes was just your average, but now that we know there's an Apple event just around the corner, it's time to start making hay out of all the chaff floating around. A source now tells the Wall Street Journal that Apple is pushing hard for a deal with Disney to nail down cheaper 48-hour rentals, presumably to come through iTunes and the revamped iTV service. Resistance to the deal is coming from TV companies (surprise, surprise), who are leery about putting too much content out through online services, fearing that people will leave their monthly cable bills behind if another service arises.

What's funny about that, of course, is that Apple sees that's already happening. Services like Hulu Plus and Netflix are already making cable customers rethink their monthly fees, and so Apple is finding itself with a limited amount of time to get in on the action. The Wall Street Journal says the company is pushing for agreements "before the new television season starts," but now that we know there's an event planned for September 1st, it's more likely Apple is trying to get agreements set up before the announcement. Of course, as Philip Elmer-DeWitt points out, the real economic tradeoff isn't between the $0.99 rentals and a more lucrative plan the studios come up with -- it's between Apple's proven iTunes-based economy and the free-range TV programming on BitTorrent.

And with its ties to Disney, odds are that Apple will definitely have enough to go forward, even if it doesn't have every channel signing on the dotted line just yet. So here's the question: if Apple does announce a new iTV, and a way to watch new television on demand right away, will you choose a system like that over whatever cable bill you're currently paying?

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