I was informed today from iTunes Support that new episodes that become available will no longer come through the Store > Check for Available Downloads option in iTunes. If you notice in your email alerts for the new episode's availability, it now says the new episode is found in your Purchased items in Itunes in the Cloud.
I was also told that if I checked the options "show iTunes Purchases in the Cloud" in iTunes > Preferences > Store tab, that I could just see the new episodes in my Library under TV Shows. I used to have this option and could access the new episodes and download them this way, but that option is now GONE as well from iTunes. I am awaiting feedback from my Senior Support Rep as to what is wrong there.
I have been simply going to the iTunes Store > Purchased > TV Shows and clicking the "Not on this computer" option in the upper right. I have to go show by show and click "Download" or "Download All". I have almost 15 Season Passes at any one time. This is a completely horrible way of downloading them.
When the new episodes were evailable via the "Check for Available Downloads" Option, I had my iMac scheduled to restart every morning around 4am Central. That was about 2 hours after the date/time stamp of the email notifications. Since iTunes was always set to start at login, it would automatically check for available downloads, and then download all the new episodes. I then had a cloning process scheduled that would clone my primary iTunes Media drive to a backup iTunes Media drive. That way if one fails I always have an up to date copy.
This new method totally screws up how slick this whole process worked. I understand streaming and the cloud is the direction they are taking here, but this is completely an about face. I want the new episodes available locally. I want it downloaded when I am asleep and always available locally when I want to watch. That way I dont have to worry about my internet availability. Storm can knockout my internet. The construction down the road can cut the optical cable. I may loose my internet due to a problem with the ISP. Having the files locally allows me to watch them worry free, buffer free, and when I want to.
I urge those who are annoyed by this change to provide feedback here: http://www.apple.com/feedback/itunesapp.html
I really hope this decision to remove this functionality is not a sign to come. Next I will be downloading each song one by one when I buy an album because I can just stream it in the cloud.
I love my Apple products and servies. But this totally makes me hate them right now.