UPDATE: This feature is apparently only a US-thing for the time being…

Coincidentally or not, Apple has just made some back-end changes to the iTunes Store cloud as the new iOS 4.3.3 firmware updated for Apple TV went live a couple of minutes ago. As you can see from the above screenshot, it’s now possible to re-download purchased television shows in iTunes through the Purchased tab in the iTunes Store section of the iTunes desktop app. The Purchased tab is also available via the iTunes app on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, allowing you to re-download previously purchased shows directly to those devices. Put simply, the company has blurred the line between purchases and rentals, although users are still offered the choice between renting or owning television shows on offer in iTune Store.

This latest addition comes on top of the ability to re-download purchased apps, e-books and music in desktop iTunes, which has been in place for some time. The feature also ties in nicely to the latest Apple TV software update which lets you purchase television shows through the device (see the screenshot below), not just rent them as before. Presumably, content begins streaming on the Apple TV (due to its small storage), with your other iOS devices and computers automatically downloading the purchase if you have enabled Automatic Downloads in Settings > Store.

In other words, “Apple has rolled out a cloud-based storage locker for TV shows… And you know movies are next!”, as cleverly put by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber.

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