If you buy the new Apple TV, or get the Apple TV Update 5.0, you will finally be able to stream your previously purchased movies directly from iTunes. Actually, you can only stream some of the titles that you purchased from iTunes. And while you can now buy movies directly from the Apple TV, those same titles are excluded. The ability to stream movies led many people to believe that iTunes Match was extending to include movies. But it appears that iTunes movies in the Cloud is not wholly ready for primetime.
What is iTunes Match and Apple TV's Cloud Movie Streaming?
Last year, iTunes Match was released for music. For $24.99 per year, Match will look through your iTunes library for music that you have legitimately purchased through the iTunes store, or have uploaded from a CD to the iTunes library on your computer. Songs that are available in the iTunes store are made available to be downloaded from the iTunes Cloud to your iPhone, iPad or iPod or can be streamed to your Apple TV.
The Apple TV update 5.0 expands the ability to stream music, adding streaming movies and TV shows previously purchased from iTunes. This cloud solution is especially appealing for movies, as video files take up a lot of memory when downloaded to your devices. Because the Apple TV has no memory, it cannot save movies and must stream movies from your computer's iTunes library, or from movies bought and stored on an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.
You can't stream every purchased movie using Apple TV's iTunes Cloud movie streaming.
After updating my Apple TV, I was excited to try out the new feature and stream Forgetting Sarah Marshall. But when I went to the Apple TV movie icon to view the movies I had previously purchased, it wasn't in my movies list.
I wrote to Apple support and received this reply:
Barbara, there are certain movies such as "Forgetting Sara Marshall" which when purchased would not be available from iTunes in the Cloud due to licensing issues or the agreement we have with the publisher. You'll find information such as this below the movie's cover photo on the left portion of the description page.
I looked at the iTunes buying page of two of my missing movies — Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Cowboys & Aliens. Sure enough, it reads: "When purchased, this movie will not be available from iTunes in the Cloud."
You can't buy every movie available in iTunes directly from your Apple TV.
Previously, you could only rent movies and TV shows directly from your Apple TV. The Apple TV update includes the ability to buy movies from iTunes in the same way you've been able to purchase them from your computer, iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The movie titles that are not available in the Cloud also cannot be purchased directly on the Apple TV.
When you bring up the buying page on your Apple TV, if a movie is ineligible for the Cloud, it will only show a "rent" button but not the option to buy the movie. This is because when you buy a movie on your Apple TV, it must be stored in the Cloud and cannot be saved to your Apple TV.
Why can't you buy or stream these movies to your Apple TV?
Movies are restricted from Cloud streaming because Apple has not made a deal with some movie studios. Movies from Twentieth Century Fox and Universal, have conflicts that must be worked out before streaming will be made available. Read more about the details in this Wall Street Journal article on WSJ.com.
How to watch any movie without using Apple TV's iTunes Cloud movie streaming.
This does not mean that you can't watch movies on your Apple TV. You can still stream and watch movies that you have bought and saved to your iTunes library, or from your iPhone 4s or iPad 2.
There are a few ways to watch any movie that you purchased from iTunes (or that you have in your iTunes library) on your Apple TV:
- Homeshare - Turn on Homeshare in the iTunes libraries of computers connected to your home network, and also on your Apple TV. Your Apple TV will find the computers' iTunes libraries and you can choose the movie to play on the Apple TV. Note that you must have iTunes open on your computer so that the Apple TV can find it.
- Airplay - Play it to the Apple TV from your computer, iPad, iPhone or iPod. When playing movies that are saved to your device's "Video" app, you will see a rectangle with an arrow. Tapping the rectangle will display a pull-down menu that lets you choose whether to watch the video on your device or choose the Apple TV.
- Airplay Mirroring - This actually displays whatever is on the screen of your iPhone or IPad; through your Apple TV, it shows on your TV. While it will show your home screen or any app, it will play the movie full-screen when in the videos app. Your iPhone or iPad will display a message that the movie is being shown on your Apple TV.