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

Rasmus Larsen of Flat Panels HD:

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 The two buttons have been replaced by a new ‘How to Watch’ button which states: “You can buy, rent or subscribe in the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, and other streaming devices.”

John Gruber linked to Larsen’s post and confirmed it is a deliberate change for financial reasons:

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.

This reminds me of Amazon’s deal with Apple, allowing it to sell some of its media through its own purchase flow in its Apple TV app, thus exempting it from Apple’s commission. These deals between giant companies are ever-changing, which creates an unpredictable and often worse experience for users, and are generally unavailable to smaller developers.