Update: Looks like Apple turned this off sometime later, likely because the feature wasn’t quite ready for prime time, since reports say purchases weren’t working smoothly. Look for it to reappear once Apple addresses the issues.
Apple (s aapl) turned on streaming of purchased TV shows on the Apple TV for customers in the UK, Canada and Australia on Wednesday night. The change does not even require a user-initiated update, and it should be available on all current Apple TVs in those countries right now. It’s good for users, and it’s great for Apple, since it proves yet again that where the international market is concerned, Apple is ahead of the game on a global scale.
To use the new TV show streaming service, users need only an active Internet connection, an iTunes account and to make purchases of shows available for streaming, which you can do directly from your Apple TV. The selection isn’t great right now; only Aardman Studios, A&E, History Channel, PBS, PBS Kids, Vivendi Entertainment and Viz Media appear to have made their content available as of yet. But it’s a start, which is more than can be said for Apple’s biggest competitor, Amazon. (s amzn)
Apple is at least two steps ahead of Amazon in terms of making its content available internationally. Users still have to be in the U.S. to use Amazon’s VOD services, for instance, regardless of their device. Amazon Music has a bit more reach, with availability in a few European markets. Apple, on the other hand, not only offers both video and music stores to many worldwide markets but has also already managed to secure deals that allow for iCloud remote backup, automatic downloads of purchases in select countries and now TV content on the Apple TV.
Reach and an outsize share of the digital market probably account for much of why Apple is able to successfully negotiate international rights deals more easily than Amazon, but it may also be the case that selling abroad just isn’t as much of a priority for Amazon at this point. Still, whatever the reason, this latest development for the Apple TV, along with the likelihood that Apple is working on bringing iTunes Match to international customers sometime in the new year, puts Apple’s ecosystem out front. That could be a key deciding factor for keeping it ahead in the tablet game, now that the Kindle Fire is out and selling well, though again, only in the U.S. for now.