Apple TV Now Streams Movies You Didn’t Actually Buy From iTunes



In their rush to announce the new iPad on Wednesday, Apple hurried through the details of their new Apple TV and didn’t talk much about the new ability to stream your movies straight from iCloud to your Apple TV or iOS device. What’s awesome about the new feature is that it works for movies that you didn’t even buy from iTunes: iTunes Digital Copies.

iTunes in the Cloud for movies works in similar fashion to iTunes Match in that the software scans your library for movies, and rather than uploading the entire movie to iCloud the system allows users to stream Apple’s iTunes copy for free straight to your Apple TV. Most DVD and Blu-rays now include a bonus iTunes Digital Copy disc that can be imported to iTunes so users can watch the movie on their Mac and it looks like this is what Apple is using to verify the legitimacy of the video files.

Writing for Tech of the Hub, Gabe Gagliano made the discovery:

I purchased the 2009 release of Star Trek on Blu-ray which came with a digital copy… In the earlier versions of the Apple TV software, I was able to watch it via iTunes home sharing, streaming from my iMac (and iTunes had to be running). However, I can now stream the movie directly from Apple’s cloud. Star Trek shows up under my purchased titles and the iCloud icon appears with it. It’s just like iTunes match for music!

Apple’s iTunes in the Cloud for movies service doesn’t go as far as iTunes Match  for music though because it doesn’t grab any video file it sees. It must find a legit iTunes Digital Copy before it will add it to your available iCloud movies – meaning all those pirated movies on your hard drive won’t be streamed via iCloud. The feature is also limited to those films which are available in the iTunes Store. However, the feature is a great convenience for users, and with the upcoming addition of AirPlay video streaming in OS X 10.8  we think the Apple TV is finally starting to get its wings for mainstream users.




[via Wired]

  • Antiloop78

    I rarely buy or watch movies so this in itself doesn’t really matter to me.

    However…it’s still great to see as its just one more step in unifying content across all platforms and making it as simple for the user as possible.

    If Apple can get television providers to offer up individual (and international) channels to any Apple product they will pretty much have this digital hub thing mastered.

  • Jeff Webb

    I had used 8-10 digital copies of BluRay discs in iTunes in the past, but eventually deleted them from my library/media HDD. Nice to see the option of streaming them from the cloud is possible should I ever want to watch one.

  • AriRomano

    What’s so awesome about this?

    Let’s say you buy a bluray that includes a digital copy. You could either watch the bluray on your blurry player or the digital copy in inferior quality using your apple TV… great.

  • WM

    This is a neat feature…yes…BUT I wouldn’t go as far to say that it is like iTunes Match.  I have 2 apple ID’s, one old, and one new. I have about 45 movies that I’ve bought over the past 3 years on my old account.  I have only one single movie thats popped up in the purchased section of my current apple ID.  I have tried updating iTunes match and everything and it doesn’t recognize any of those other movies…it would be super cool if it did.

  • emailforhelp

    This streaming and movie redownloading in Canada. We are only can how there work with content maker to make this happen for Canadian’s. Well we can only hope.

  • Buster

    are all of those movies currently available on iTunes? 

  • WM

    Yep…if I log out of my current ID and log back in under my old ID, MOST of them show up. Any thoughts?

  • minimalist1969

    Its a nice little bonus to take movies you previously had to load manually onto devices through iTunes and make them available anywhere anytime via iCloud.  If you are sitting on the fence about the pros and cons of buying movies digitally, this feature definitely puts a tick in the cloud’s advantage box.

  • minimalist1969

    Yeah, I never thought about how this move lets you delete the local copies freeing up hard drive space and only downloading them when you specifically want to watch them.

  • minimalist1969

    You can download these movies on the fly to an iOS device or laptop when you are away from your big screen TV.  That’s a really nice feature if you ask me.  Get the best quality at home and the ability to access that same content on all your other devices when you are away.

  • JDWages

    I’m still trying to see exactly how this works.  Tell me if this is correct:

    1) Copies the “digital copy” version of a given movie off its blue ray disc and onto a Mac.
    2) iTunes automatically finds that digital copy on my hard drive and blesses it into iCloud.
    3) I can then delete off that copy from my Mac, and access to it in iCloud will remain unchanged.

    Is this right?  Even if it is, it would have been nicer if there was a way to avoid having to copy it to the hard drive in the first place — perhaps by just inserting the disc and then having Apple’s iCloud magic work.

  • thesilverdragon

    This feature doesn’t seem to work for Australians yet :(

  • Shaun Green

    It would be better if the “digital copy” you get in the BluRay Triple Play box was in HD rather than SD quality. That would save me a lot of time downloading HD films and overcome the fact that there are very few decent HD films currently available in the iTunes UK store.

  • kelly

    While the digital copy isn’t in HD, the copy on Apple’s server is. So your iCloud stream will be HD.

  • Mike Howles

    There is an equivalent of a license key included with the Blu-Ray/DVD that you key in.  You don’t have to copy anything off the disc or insert the media.  At least that’s how it worked with The Dark Knight…

  • JDWages

    Please explain further.  Where is this license key on the Blue-Ray disc itself?  And when does one copy that license key to one’s hard drive?  And is iTunes required?  (I apologize, but I still don’t see the big picture of what’s going on here.)

    Thanks in advance.