Q: I’m a bit unclear on how the restrictions in iTunes work if I’m dealing with more than one account. Some of your articles talk about how iTunes doesn’t let you switch accounts for 90 days, but that this doesn’t apply to new purchased—only for downloading stuff I’ve already purchased. My big question is whether this applies to “Season Passes” or not? If I buy a Season Pass from a different iTunes account, can I still download new episodes when they come out, or will I have to wait 90 days? Does it matter whether the account is in a different country or not? Thanks.
A: Pre-purchased content such as a Season Pass is excluded from the 90-day restriction on changing accounts, since the individual season pass episodes are still considered “new” content that you haven’t otherwise previously downloaded—at least the first time you download them.
Essentially, the 90-day restriction only applies to RE-downloading content that has already been downloaded by at least one of your devices. The limitation was actually introduced alongside the ability to re-download past music, movie, and TV show purchases, and was presumably implemented to discourage sharing of content via different iTunes accounts. The idea here is that this prevents you from giving your iTunes account password to a friend so that they can switch to your account and download your purchased content to their device.
The 90-day restriction specifically prevents you from switching accounts in order to do any of the following:
- 1. Re-downloading previous purchases from your iTunes purchase history.
- 2. Enabling automatic downloads of content purchased on other devices.
- 3. Enabling iTunes Match.
Note that the above only applies to media content such as music, movies, TV shows, and books; Apps are specifically excluded from these restrictions, most likely due to the fact that Apple controls the App Store itself and therefore does not need to concern itself with content provider licensing agreements.
This restriction also does not apply to transferring content directly between your devices and your iTunes library, sharing it from iTunes via Home Sharing, or even copying it manually to other authorized iTunes libraries. This behaviour has not changed from the pre-iCloud days, and you can continue to have multiple iTunes accounts authorized both in iTunes and on your iPod and iOS devices.
The only catch here with Season Pass content is that the 90-day restriction will apply to RE-downloading that content in the same way as it does for any other content. This means that if you’re using an alternate account for your Season Pass content you will only be able to download new episodes from your Season Pass once, when they initially become available, regardless of the device that you are using to do so. Once downloaded, of course, you can transfer this content to any of your other devices using iTunes in the normal manner, but you won’t be able to switch to your alternate account to download these items directly from iTunes in the Cloud.
One major exception to all of this is accessing Movies and TV Shows from the cloud on an Apple TV. Since these are streamed rather than downloaded, there is no restriction on switching accounts to view content, and in fact Apple added a new feature in the Apple TV 5.1 Software Update to actually make this process even simpler.