Saturday, October 4, 2014

iTunes Video Streaming: One Option

Having recently canceled our Netflix DVD subscription, our family has gone all in on streaming video. Mostly we stream TV shows, which Netflix is ideal for, which we do through Apple TV. But what about new movies? This is where Netflix is somewhat weak, so I figured I could stream rental movies from iTunes through my iPad to the TV big screen.

Renting my first iTunes movie, I just could not believe there was no streaming option. Seriously? But sure enough, my only choice was to download the movie to my iPad before being able to view it. Since the HD download ended up taking 2+ hours, there went our Saturday night movie. We were bummed.

Well, it's not obvious, but it turns out there is a way to stream iTunes movies. One Apple device will let you do it. But not the iPhone. Nor the iPad. Or the iPod touch. You can stream iTunes movies through Apple TV! Apple TV has only very limited storage - it couldn't hold a downloaded movie - hence the grudgingly-provided streaming option.

I needed to test this streaming option out before getting too excited. Sure enough, going into iTunes through Apple TV and choosing a rental, iTunes will stream the video to your TV.  It worked great, streaming was error-free with no hiccups.  No more super-long downloads before watching an iTunes movie rental!

Ah, think you're clever, and will start the stream on Apple TV and then switch to another device, say your iPad? Nope they thought of that. The rental is in "Apple TV format" and can only be watched through Apple TV.

Still, beggars can't be choosers. Once you rent the movie, you have 30 days to watch it. This doesn't mean you can watch part of it tonight, and the rest of it anytime before the 30 days are up. No, once you start the movie, you have to finish it in 24 hours. So the 30 days is really only procrastination time prior to starting the movie.

If it's within the 24 hours, technically you can watch the movie as much as you want. If you get to the end, and wanted to re-watch portions of the movie, no problem. Another family member could re-watch the entire movie as long as it was within the 24 hours.  And it seemed, once we were bumping up against the 24-hour deadline, if you were in the middle of the movie it wouldn't cut you off. But you might run into trouble if you exited iTunes; I believe we saw a warning message that that was the point of no return: you exit you're done.

A small loophole, but it's there: you can stream iTunes movies. But only through Apple TV.

Older TV?  Apple TV Works with That!


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