One of my favorite features of the Apple TV has always been the ability to rent nearly any movie ever shown in a movie theater.
I've noticed in the past 45 days that the amount of content available specifically for rental has markedly decreased. Also, the number of items which indicate "Available For Rental [Date]" is lower, in fact I haven't seen that 'button' in a long time.. For example, several months ago when the movie "Ted" was first made available for rental, I chose to put that movie off until I would be in a mood where I could really use a comedy to lift my spirits.
Today, when I decided a comedy was in order, I went to my trusty Apple TV and searched for "Ted". The movie is still available, but not for rental anymore, it is only available for purchase for the whopping price tag of $14.99 -- way too much to risk on a movie I don't even know if I'll like.
As a second example, "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen" was a movie I had rented a few months ago and quite enjoyed, but not so much that I wanted to own it. The other night a friend and I were talking about set-top boxes like the AppleTV and I was telling her how much I love it. We were also trying to think of a good movie to watch and I asked if she had seen "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen", when she said she hadn't, I offered that as a really good movie she might like and that I wouldn't mind watching again. I went to rent the movie, and it was no longer available for rental, only for purchase. When I went ahead and decided to purchase the movie -- and this felt like adding insult to injury -- I was prompted with "You've already rented this item, are you sure you wish to purchase it?" So, not only could I not rent it again, but that fact was going to be wagged in my face in front of a friend who I was trying to convince to buy an AppleTV because they're so awesome.
I'm sure this has something to do with a contract somewhere, but I'd really like to know more details so that I can better understand how much this change in the contracts Apple keeps with it's partners will affect my overall experience of the Apple TV and the services it provides. Is this likely to be a permanent change? If so, I will likely begin to look for another set-top box provided by a company who has more of an investment in keeping contracts with partners that provide the kinds of services I enjoy. I don't want to continue using a service that only allows me to purchase movies after a short 'available for rental' period,