In addition to the new Apple TV software update, the update also introduced the ability for users to stream TV episodes they had previously purchased through iTunes. Also, Apple expanded the “Purchased” section of the iTunes to the Mac, PC, and iOS app to include re-downloads of purchased TV content.
This new feature adds TV shows to iCloud, bringing the TV content to work the same way as music purchases have been since the update back in June following the iCloud announcement at WWDC 2011. Due to the update, users now have the the option to download purchased TV shows at will and for free as long as they are linked to the same iTunes Store account. Also, the iTunes Store terms and conditions have been updated with new text covering the changes.
Notification of an additional type of previously-purchased content that may be subsequently downloaded to certain computers and devices as an accommodation to you, subject to existing association rules; and that such content may be played back on certain devices that are not subject to existing association rules, with limitations.
MacRumors notes that the changes have been covered under the section “Automatic Delivery and Downloading Previous Purchases Beta” which covers the two classes of downloadable content. One of the classes is “iTunes Auto-Delievery Content” which covers music and music videos which can be automatically downloaded to associated devices. The other clause being “iTunes Eligible Content” which covers TV shows that must be downloaded manually.
Such a change usually requires licensing deals with content providers to be renegotiated, and thus probably why Apple has taken time to offer re-downloads for each media type and in each market.