I haven't read through every comment so I apologize if someone already suggested this but I think I have a great solution....Apple could buy Dish Network! They could still let Dish function as it's own entity but it would give them access to their content contracts.
Existing Dish customers can do one of two things:
1. Keep their existing set top box and see very little change
2. Purchase an Apple TV that would connect to the set top box. (This would be necessary to access the DVR's hard drive since the ATV only has 8 GB.) All content would now be shown through Apple's slick interface.
3. Buy a new Apple HDTV with the DVR incorporated into the TV. This option allows you to lose the set top box and simplify your living room set up, which is what Apple is all about.
When it comes time to renew contracts with the content producers, Apple is suddenly holding a LOT more cards and can begin getting creative.
Apple, if you would like to hire me, I'm listening