The feature forms part of iCloud, and has been available to US customers since iCloud’s launch in 2011.
Although Apple has made no formal announcement regarding the service, it is assumed that the delay was due to licensing discussions between Apple and UK movie rights holders.
tiredbees has already spotted movies appearing in the Purchased and Movies area of the iTunes Store, including major titles such as Toy Story and Watchmen. These can be downloaded to any authorized device with a matching iTunes account.
Many people assume that this would be a standard feature in iTunes, and that a movie purchased on one device would automatically be able to watch, or download on another device (as this has been a feature for music for many years).
Prior to now, it often came as a surprise to customers that a movie they had purchased on one device could not be downloaded and watched on another. It couldn’t even be streamed to an Apple TV unless it was connected to the network with the copy of iTunes containing the movie.
The movies can also be downloaded to an iOS device, but they cannot be streamed in the same manner as songs using iTunes Match. From a consumer perspective this is a rather odd decision, as movies take up a large amount of space on the iPad or iPhone’s limited memory. Streaming would be a much more practical approach.