Apple has announced the launch of a video download service for UK consumers, meaning they will now be able to purchase individual episodes of top US TV shows such as Ugly Betty.

In a statement today the technology giant revealed that 28 TV programmes will initially be available to download from its online iTunes store.

Episodes of the featured programmes, which include Desperate Housewives, Lost and Grey's Anatomy, will be available for purchase at £1.89 each.

A limited number of UK series will also be available, including Nickelodeon's Genie in the House and Paramount Comedy’s Comedy Blue.

UK fans of the programmes will be able to download their favourite episodes for viewing on PCs or Macs, fifth generation iPods, or widescreen TV's with Apple TV.

Apple's vice president of iTunes, Eddy Cue, said: "We’re thrilled to bring TV programming to the iTunes Store in the UK.

"We’ve got 28 shows and expect to continue to add more great programming," he added.

The launch of the new service follows agreements Apple has made with a range of top TV production companies, including ABC Studios, the Disney Channel and MTV.

US consumers have been benefiting from a similar service over the past two years, while in the UK TV fans can currently download catch-up TV services offered by leading broadcasters such as ITV and the BBC.

Apple's latest offering comes as analysts warn that its dominance of the digital download market for music is under threat.

Universal Music, the world's largest music label, recently announced that several online retailers had agreed to trial the sale of its tracks without the customary copy protection technology attached.

Currently Apple is the key player in the digital download market, but technology designed to prevent music lovers from copying songs means that those who buy tracks from its iTunes store can generally only listen to them on the company's iPod players and iPhones.

29/08/2007 13:58:56