When iTunes first debuted it was known as a library for music, but Apple quickly grew its media hub to include movies and television shows, making it a hotspot for users looking to stream the latest movies or binge watch their favorite shows. While Apple doesn’t cater to its competitors in offering an Android app, iTunes is still a quality streaming service with robust offerings.
Apple iTunes Movies and TV Offerings
Apple has deals with most of the major movie studios, television networks and premium channels, resulting in a diverse library that features the latest and greatest films, as well as popular television shows. One of the biggest appeals of iTunes is access to real-time content. Television shows currently on the air are usually available on iTunes within days of airing. Yearning to watch Jon Stewart’s satirical analysis the day’s news? Apple iTunes has access to “The Daily Show” within 24 hours of its airdate, which helps keep Stewart’s rants relevant for viewers. Google Play Movies and TV also provides timely access to such content, though it tends to take the service 48 hours or more to update its videos. (Check out our comparison of Google Play vs. iTunes for more details.) Both services are competitively priced, with an episode of “The Daily Show” costing $1.99. Other new television shows usually cost around $2.99 per episode, while season passes tend to range in price from $24.99 to $44.99.
Movies are also a big draw for streaming services and iTunes doesn’t disappoint. Users can choose from recently released films like “Birdman” or classic movies like “Casablanca.” Overall, Apple offers a variety of fresh from the theater blockbusters and indie flicks, as well as go-to cult classics. Pricing varies depending on the movie, though most newer films cost around $5.99 to rent, while older rentals are usually a little cheaper, costing around $3.99. Users can also pre-order movies on iTunes in preparation for the film’s home release. The service even offers sneak peeks to movies that haven’t hit theaters yet.
While iTunes’ movie and TV offerings don’t include original programming like Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video, it does have a “Genius” algorithm similar to Netflix’s “Recommended for You” section. The content selection in this category is based on the user’s preferences and previous choices. Apple iTunes does have a leg up on Netflix in that it offers offline viewing, allowing users to download content then watch at a later time without an Internet connection.
While iTunes is natively available on Macs and can be downloaded on PCs, the service is only available on the iOS platform. There are third party apps and alternative ways to get iTunes content on Android devices, however this is a huge inconvenience. With Google Movies and TV offering similar content and pricing to iTunes, Android users are better off sticking with Google’s service as it is less of a hassle.
Apple has optimized iTunes for its customers, allowing users to seamlessly stream videos or watch downloaded content on their iPhone, iPad or Apple TV. Unlike some services, iTunes allows users to stream content on their iPhone or iPad using data rather than forcing them to be connected to Wi-Fi. The streaming quality is good across all Apple devices and PCs, and preference for devices truly depends on the user’s viewing tendencies.
Ease of Use
Contrary to reputation as an unwieldy music manager, iTunes is easy to use for movies and TV shows. Both are separated in both the desktop versions and the mobile iteration. Users can scroll the page to sift through Apple’s pre-selected sections or use the sidebar to sort by genre or category. Users can also search by name for the most efficient process. The “Genius Recommendations” can usually be found at the bottom of the movie page on the desktop version.
As long as you have an iTunes account, purchasing content is simple. After selecting the video they wish to watch, users can click or tap on the purchase button. They are then greeted with an account verification alert to ensure their identity and continue with their purchase.
As Apple’s media hub, iTunes offers more than just movies and television shows. Users also have access to music, books and podcasts. While the iTunes content catalogue is large and current, users must pay individually for each video, which can get pricey after multiple purchases. Yet, if you are an Apple owner through and through, this is the best streaming service for you.
Last but certainly not least, the subscription-based HBO Now, which essentially offers HBO Go for $14.99 per month, is a partial Apple TV and iOS exclusive as of this writing (it’s available to Cablevision and Sling TV subscribers, but not on Android or other streaming devices). It’s not an iTunes exclusive as the service is limited to Apple devices, but it makes a compelling case to purchase an Apple TV, which itself makes a compelling case to purchase and stream content from iTunes.