iTunes movies: over-priced, over-hyped and over here?

Buying a boxed DVD copy of American Gangster from Amazon UK is also cheaper than a Tiscali download in this case, selling for £12.98.

To get your hands on any of the downloadable titles, you'll need to install Tiscali's Download Manager.

This ensures that movies can only be played using Windows Media Player (Tiscali doesn't specify a version) and on a PC running Windows XP (SP2) or Windows 2000.

You have seven days to start watching the movie once it has downloaded, and the download expires 24-48 hours from the time you first hit Play.

BT Vision

BT's Video On Demand (VoD) service offers a choice of movie download and rental options - one from the BT Vision Download Store; and a second via BT Vision PictureBox.

The BT Vision Download Store operates on a similar basis to the others here - you can either rent or download to own.

Rental prices range start at £2.99 for back catalogue titles, rising to £3.49 for new releases.That's reflected in purchase prices with old movies too. They start at £5.99 and rise upwards to £19.99.

As with Tiscali and LoveFilm, buying a movie gives you both a downloadable PC version and another for your portable video player, but BT Vision Download Store also serves up a free physical DVD with some titles too.

The BT Vision Download Store currently doesn't have our chosen flick of American Gangster on its books, although it does have a PC / portable bundle of Cloverfield available for £14.99.

iPod and Mac owners will again come away disappointed. The BT Vision Download Store only offers downloads to PC users running Windows Media Player 11 on Windows XP (SP2) or Windows Vista.

BT Vision does list a number of compatible portable players on its site, so if you own a player such as the Archos AV604 Wi-Fi or Creative Zen Vision you're quids-in too.

BT Vision's other proposition is PictureBox - a subscription-based service it has developed in conjunction with NBC Universal.

Every month BT Vision will serve up 28 brand new movies for you to watch for just £5 per month.To watch them, you'll need to get a BT Vision set-top box (currently free) and sign up to BT Total Broadband.

This currently costs £7.95 per month for the first three months, then £15.99 per month after.

The biggest disadvantage we can see is that you can't actually download the movies to your PC or portable video player.

You just watch them on demand via a regular TV, just as you would with a Sky Movies subscription.

BT Vision says PictureBox serves up movies that haven't yet been shown on terrestrial TV, but you certainly won't find recent box office hits like Cloverfield or American Gangster here.

Again, PictureBox is more like Sky Movies and not really an iTunes rival at all.


Taking each of the services on its merits, Apple's iTunes movie downloads actually comes out rather well.

They're available for the UK's most popular portable video player (the iPod), and they are Mac and PC compatible - and that's something that none of its other rivals can boast.

Compared to LoveFilm, Tiscali and BT Vision, iTunes' buy-to-own and rental prices are pretty competitive too.

£10.99 certainly isn't an extortionate amount of money for a recent release, although Apple could arguably shave 50p-£1 off its rental prices to make them better value for money.

Given Apple's track record, we reckon the iTunes movie download service should expand pretty rapidly. It certainly needs to offer more choice and a greater number of new releases than it does right now.

Ideally these should be launched on the same day and date as their DVD or Blu-ray equivalents.

As for iTunes' chief rivals, they going to really need to up their game. None of them except LoveFilm really offers a compelling alternative when it comes to download-to-own, although its rental prices are easily the best of the bunch.

Other online movie rental services in the UK


Like Lovefilm, Blockbuster runs its own DVDs by mail rental service, with prices ranging from £4.99 to £22.99 per month. It currently doesn't offer movie downloads of any kind.

Box Office 365

Launched three years ago, Box Office 365 is facing an uphill battle against rivals like iTunes, LoveFilm and soon-to-be-launched rival Tesco Digital.

It currently only has 150 movies to buy, mainly ancient fluff such as Carry On movies and some Alfred Hitchcock. Box Office 365 doesn't do rentals.

Unfortunately the website is a bit of a mess as well, with little information for potential customers to go on. We do know it only supports Windows users and requires Windows Media 9 or later. Our emails to the company's PR department have so far gone unanswered

Tesco Digital

The biggest threat to iTunes by far, thanks to Tesco's supermarket superpower and the fact that it's launching its online movie download service soon. We'll bring you more details as and when we have them.

Do you think iTunes' movie pricing is fair? How highly would you rate it rivals? Isn't just easier to buy the DVD instead? Write in and let us know, please comment below.