Apple in talks to bring $0.99 Television rentals to iTunes in time for September 7th media event

In addition to new iPods and a refreshed Apple TV, Apple will reportedly announce $0.99 TV rentals at an upcoming media event on September 7th.

Update: Apple's special media event is now officially scheduled for September 1.

With Antennagate now thankfully behind us, we can now turn our attention to some upcoming new products and rumored services Apple has in the pipeline. Apple has historically announced iPod upgrades during special media events held in September, and this year looks to be no different.announce a slew of iPod upgrades. While it remains unclear what Apple may have in the works for the iPod Shuffle and the iPod Nano, there's no doubt that the iPod Touch is about to receive a significant overhaul. 

Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Apple will hold a special media event on September 1 where the company is expected to

The next-gen iPod Touch will reportedly come equipped with camera on the back, along with a front facing video camera with support for Facetime. While Facetime is currently an iPhone 4 exclusive, reports have hinted that the iPod Touch will support Facetime connections via user email addresses. Also on tap for the next-gen iPod Touch is the 960x640 retina display currently used on the iPhone 4.

Even more interesting, though, are reports that Apple is looking to revamp its offerings on iTunes with the addition of TV rentals. Apple is reportedly negotiating a deal with News Corp (which owns Fox) that would allow users to rent TV programs for $0.99 for a 48-hour time period. As it currently stands, users can only purchase individual TV episodes for $1.99, or $2.99 if in HD. 

While $1.99 per episode isn't outrageously expensive, TV episodes lend themselves far more to rentals than to purchases. For example, buying an episode of "The Office" that you might have missed for $1.99 isn't all that appealing when you can watch it for free the next day on Hulu or NBC. A $0.99 pricepoint, while not free, is still cheap enough to make TV rentals on iTunes a viable option. For starters, rentals via iTunes would be the easiest way to view content on the iPhone/iPod/iPad. Second, remember that Hulu's selection of TV shows are often limited to the 5 most recept episodes of a particular program.

The content deals would give Apple users access to some of the most-watched shows on TV and increase the appeal of its devices, including the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Adding programming also would build on iTunes’ role as the biggest retailer of music and mobile applications, and help Apple ward off companies like Netflix, Amazon.com Inc. and Hulu, which offer their own online video services.

Other content providers currently in talks with Apple over TV rentals also include CBS, NBC Universal, and Walt Disney.

According to sources reportedly familiar with Apple's plans, new TV episodes will be made available for download within 24 hours of first airing. Though nothing with Apple is ever set in stone, Bloomberg notes that Apple has plans to announce its new TV rental service on September 1, alongside the introduction of its new lineup of iPods.

There are also a number of rumors swirling around Apple's refresh of the Apple TV. According to Engadget, Apple will rebrand the Apple TV as iTV. As for new features, the new iTV will reportedly come with an A4 processor, have a new OS similar to the iOS, have access to the iTunes App Store, and more importantly, will sell for only $99. 

Jobs, and other Apple executives, have routinely referred to the Apple TV (or iTV) as a hobby. With a lower pricepoint, along with the potential for $0.99 rentals on the horizon, Apple appears ready to make yet another attempt to turn its hobby into something more substantial.

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