Hollywood studios warm to Apple’s iCloud; HBO agrees to allow Universal, Fox movies on Apple’s iCloud

“Last week Apple said five major movie studios had agreed to allow consumers to buy their films on one Apple device, such as an iPad, and watch them on another, such as a Mac. But clinching those deals required both sides to work through hurdles that included at least one licensing arrangement one of the studios already had in place,” Jessica E. Vascellaro, Erica Orden and Sam Schechner report for The Wall Street Journal. “Apple is offering the option of viewing movies on a range of its devices as part of its online iCloud service, under agreements with Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Co., Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures and Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. The company has yet to reach similar accords with two other big studios [Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures and News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox].”
“The move could provide a boost for the new iPad, which has a higher-resolution screen that Apple hopes will be popular for watching video,” Vascellaro, Orden and Schechner report. “While record labels and television studios agreed to participate in iCloud when Apple launched it late last year, movie studios, weren’t part of the picture until now. Apple had wanted to get all the major studios on board before launching its movie service but decided to proceed with the deals it had, said a person familiar with the matter.”

Vascellaro, Orden and Schechner report, “One major roadblock for Apple has been Time Warner’s pay-TV channel HBO. Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox license their movies to the channel, in deals that bar them from letting their movies work with iCloud. The deals specify that HBO has exclusive rights to beam movies to consumers during certain “windows” after each film comes out. The first such window usually comes about six months after a movie is released on DVD, and lasts about a year. During that interval, movies generally disappear from competing online stores and video-on-demand menus.”

“HBO isn’t planning to give up its exclusive windows, for which it pays hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and which allow it to beam movies to its online service HBO Go as well as to its traditional TV channels. But HBO is relaxing terms to let users of iCloud and other services send movies they already own to other devices during those windows, an HBO spokesman said,” Vascellaro, Orden and Schechner report. “HBO agreed to loosen its arrangement with Warner Bros., which is working with iCloud, and also is in talks with Universal and Fox to do the same, the spokesman added. Fox expects to resolve the issue as soon as within weeks, said a person familiar with the situation.”


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