Apple has pulled all US$0.99 TV show rentals from the iTunes Store and Apple TV. As first noticed by AppleInsider, all mention of TV show rentals has also disappeared from Apple's knowledge-base articles. One titled "iTunes Store: How to rent TV shows" has been completely removed, though you can view a cached version of it here. Apple's Apple TV page has also been updated, removing all mention of TV rentals.
An Apple spokesperson confirmed to All Things D the reason:
iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows. 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.
When Apple announced TV rentals last year Fox, ABC, the Disney Channel and BBC America were the first to offer them. However other media companies including NBC, Time Warner, and CBS were reticent at the time.
I think $0.99 is a great price for TV shows, but not to rent -- to own. A few days ago I tweeted that the day Apple and the studios start selling HD versions of TV shows through iTunes for $0.99 is the day I leave my cable company behind. Besides, it's kind of ridiculous that I can buy a high definition season of a TV show on Blu-ray for $25, but the same season would cost me $50 to own through iTunes.
As my colleague Chris succinctly put it, "Dear media: what do you have against making money? Sell TV shows for $0.99, and people will buy five times as many as they do now at $1.99. My math may be a bit off, but this sounds a lot like MOAR REVENUE. Dipsticks."
Whatever Apple and the networks choose to do in the future, the days of the $0.99 TV show rental on iTunes and the Apple TV is over, for now. And that leaves Apple's "hobby" with one less feature. Rumors have been floating around for a while now about a new Apple TV this fall. Some think it will actually be an Apple-branded television set, some say it will be an Apple TV that supports 1080p. As usual, we won't know for sure until they send out the invites.