Apple has squashed the test they were doing of 99 cent TV episode rentals. The test, using content from ABC and FOX was ended on Friday. Why? Sources cite "lack of demand." I think that might be code for "you can get most of them for free from cable companies and Hulu."
Many were saying that the 99 cent TV episode rental was going to differentiate Apple from all the other services and allow them to take a commanding lead. I'm guessing those people were the "Apple can do no wrong" crowd, who will probably flame me for calling them out like this.
The Math of the Matter
Let's face it, 99 cents, while many would believe it less than a dollar, is simply a dollar in the long run. You would have to rent 99 episodes just to save the pennies for a 100th. So, at a dollar a pop, a weekly show would cost you $4 a month. Two shows, would be $8 a month. At that point, since those shows are from ABC and FOX, both Hulu members, you might as well just get Hulu, right? After all, you get far more for that than you would by renting individual episodes.
Alternatively, you could set up a computer and use it as a DVR, or just get a DVR from your cable operator if you're not all that tech savvy.
Ultimately, to me anyway, it never would have worked. ABC and FOX would have had to have pulled all digital access to their content in order for it to do so and well, they can't. They've already given Hulu, whomever that will be owned by soon, the keys to the kingdom for the next few years. They couldn't possibly pull those keys away now without serious damage.
Is there any wonder that no one really wanted to pay a buck a pop for TV episodes?