iTunes and ‘The Interview’

Brooks Barnes and Michael Cieply, reporting for the NYT:

A new facet of Sony’s discussions with theater owners is any simultaneous video-on-demand effort. Studios typically give theaters an exclusive monthslong window to play new movies. Most theaters, worried about the impact on ticket sales, remain adamant about refusing to open their doors to any film that is showing or about to show through other channels.

It remained unclear, however, whether any on-demand service would take “The Interview.” According to people briefed on the matter, Sony had in recent days asked the White House for help in lining up a single technology partner — Apple, which operates iTunes — but the tech company was not interested, at least not on a speedy time table. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

“At least not on a speedy time table” is pretty open-ended. Could mean that Apple cowardly didn’t want to carry The Interview first. But it could also simply mean that Sony was asking for a quick turnaround that Apple wasn’t willing to meet, especially over the holidays, when many employees are on vacation. (Note, for example, that iTunes Connect is “unavailable until December 29”.) I don’t think it’s safe to say, based on this Times report alone, that Apple flat out “refused to release The Interview”, as some publications are.

That said, Google Play, YouTube, and Xbox Video are all carrying The Interview today, which makes iTunes’s absence conspicuous. Kudos to Google and Microsoft.

Update: Interesting observation by Paul Grave: “To me it’s weirder that The Interview is available to watch on Xbox One and not Sony’s own PS3 or PS4.”

Wednesday, 24 December 2014