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Apple TV is “a slightly smarter Roku, that has a significantly better marketing push behind it than Roku did,” McQuivey said. “I’m actually kind of surprised that Apple didn’t realize that they weren’t revolutionizing the category much.”

Instead, McQuivey said he sees Apple TV as a peripheral for iPad owners who spent a lot of money on the coolest new device and might be willing to spend $99 more to extend its contents onto the TV screen.

Additional content at attractive prices may be the way to get more people interested in Apple TV, McQuivey said _ bundled subscriptions to TV channels or shows, plus content from Netflix and Hulu’s pay offerings, perhaps.

But Apple may continue to face resistance from media companies, many of which fear that such bundles cut undercut lucrative cable TV deals and that the 99-cent television rentals would hurt higher-priced offerings for permanent download. Most episodes currently sell on iTunes for $1.99 or $2.99.

News Corp., for one, had a fierce internal debate about the merits of the 99-cent plan, but CEO Rupert Murdoch pushed to accept it, mainly because of the success of The Wall Street Journal’s iPad app, which is free to the Journal’s paying subscribers, according to the person familiar with the matter.

The deal for Fox-created TV shows including “Glee” is limited to a trial period of several months, which mollified those opposed to the plan, the person said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because internal discussions were confidential.

In a public statement, Fox Filmed Entertainment CEO Jim Gianopulos said “we’re excited to be working with them over the next several months to explore this innovative offering.”

Fox cannot let Apple rent shows that it buys from other studios, including “American Idol,” made by FremantleMedia Ltd., and “Fringe,” which is made by Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. Television. Fox’s rentals include “Glee,” “Family Guy” and “The Cleveland Show.”

Anne Sweeney, co-chairwoman of the Disney-ABC Television Group, said in a statement the company was proud to team up with Apple on its rental offering, which will make available shows such as “Cougar Town” and “Desperate Housewives.” Apple’s Jobs is Disney’s largest single shareholder and sits on the company’s board.

Kurt Scherf, an analyst with the market-research group Parks Associates, said requiring consumers to buy yet another box for the living room “is a real inhibitor.”

And although he praised Apple’s decision to lower the price of the device itself, he had doubts about TV rentals for 99 cents.

“Part of me is still wondering if that is too rich for a consumer to pay, given all the other options that are out there to consume and catch up on TV shows that don’t cost a thing,” he said.

Michael Gartenberg, a partner at consulting firm Altimeter Group, cast a more optimistic light on Apple’s chances of making it into consumers’ living rooms, but said in an interview that he doesn’t expect it to drastically change anyone’s TV watching habits.

Instead, it just raises the stakes for Apple’s competitors.

“This puts a lot of pressure on the Rokus and the Boxees and all the other minor league players,” he said.

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