Apple TV App on Android TV and Google TV No Longer Lets Users Buy or Rent Movies

Rasmus Larsen, writing for FlatpanelsHD:

The Apple TV app arrived on Google TV in early 2021 and on Android TV in the summer of 2021, complete with Apple TV+ access, channels, and the ability to rent and purchase iTunes movies directly on the device.

The latest app update has removed the option to rent and purchase movies on Android TV and Google TV devices. The two buttons have been replaced by a new “How to Watch” button which states: “You can buy, rent or subscribe in the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, and other streaming devices.” [...]

It is unclear why Apple has downgraded its app on Android TV and Google TV but it could be related to commission rates.

I can confirm via, as they say, sources familiar with the matter, that this is entirely about Apple and Google not being able to reach mutually agreeable terms on in-app payment commissions. Until this update, Apple had been running on an exemption not to use Google’s IAP. The exemption expired, so Apple TV on Android TV is now “reader only”. Apple TV on Amazon’s Fire platform has long been “reader only” as well for the same reason: Apple would rather not sell or rent any content at all on these platforms than do so while paying Google/Amazon the commissions they demand.

Ben Lovejoy, commenting on FlatpanelsHD’s report at 9to5Mac:

If so, it would be ironic at a time when Apple is defending its own App Store commissions against developer complaints and antitrust investigations around the world.

I don’t think Apple going read-only on these platforms is ironic at all. Apple is doing on these platforms what all developers can choose to do on Apple’s platforms: if they don’t like the commission rates, don’t sell anything.

What’s hypocritical is Apple offering a “How to Watch” button, with a simple clear explanation of how you can buy or rent new content to watch on Android TV by making the purchase on a different device. That’s not allowed on Apple’s own platforms — Apple has a rule against explaining the rules.

Monday, 21 March 2022