Disney the Only Major Studio Holdout Apple TV 4k Movies


The last version of Apple’s Apple TV box hasn’t been a game-changer, for the company or its customers. So now it’s trying an upgrade: The new box will support 4K — super-high-definition — movies and TV shows.

In addition to this massive upgrade, Apple has signed new deals to sell movies in ultra high-definition with every major Hollywood studio except the one with which it has long been closest— Disney.

According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, most major studios, such as Universal and Warner Bros., are onboard for the deal. In a win for Apple, participating firms have agreed to sell 4K movies for the same price as 1080p copies, and upgrade iTunes users’ existing libraries at no extra cost.

“Logos for most major studios briefly flashed on a screen behind Mr. Cue, including Time Warner Inc’s Warner Bros. and Comcast’s Universal Pictures […] The one absence from Apple’s list of big studios selling movies in UHD is Disney,” reads the report.

Disney offers 4K video on other digital platforms such as Vudu, suggesting that the problem isn’t with a lack of material, or a push for people to buy Blu-ray discs. It’s also selling that video for $20 or less, the same as on iTunes.

So why the absence? One possibility is that negotiations are simply still ongoing, and might even be resolved by the time the Apple TV 4K ships on September 22. The set-top will support 4K and HDR video, and upgrade to an A10X processor like the one used in this year’s iPad Pros.


  • Very interesting. I missed that slide when I was watching the presentation and didn’t see any studio information on Apple’s website, so thanks for posting that.

    One thing I’m still wondering is if the audio quality will be a step up from the 1080p downloads, but I’m guessing it won’t be, which means I’ll probably still want to buy a number of my favourite movies on 4K UHD Blu-ray instead.

    Still, I’m quite excited about this announcement. Especially that my iTunes movie library is going to be upgraded to 4K (where available) for free!

  • Bill___A

    Disney’s actions are not surprising but they are disappointing. There is a balance between making money and being reasonable – Disney should play well with others. Piracy is much less of a problem due to the things that Apple has done, such as making it easy and affordable to purchase digital content in their ecosystem. Disney should realize the benefit s of this and also realize that people like me have a ZERO percent interest in paying Disney separately.

  • Si2k78

    How is the quality of digital UHD vs UHD blu rays? Can anyone comment?

  • Ryan

    Unless I’m mistaken, Disney only has a single 4K film available for home video. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which just released last month.

  • raslucas

    Nobody st would probably be able to comment until it is released. Both of the above ARE digital, so if you were downloading from iTunes it should more or less be identical. Apple will be using the h.265 codec so it should be close.

    The real difference would be if you’re streaming the iTunes video (which you definitely will be if you’re using the AppleTV right?).

    The quality should be the same if you have enough bandwidth from your ISP… but like all streaming services it will auto-degrade if the bandwidth gets squeezed. ( if you are already close to the limit and you decide to update your phone to iOS 11 and iTunes starts downloading it)

    In short, both Blu-ray video and “digital downloads” are compressed, but when it’s streaming there’s a possibility that it will be compressed more. What would you rather, your movie to stop, or just lose quality slightly when your kid starts torrenting in the middle of when you’re watching a movie? 🙂 )