I see the long game forming. (US Centric, TL:DR for the rest of the world).
'Networks' (Let's not call them 'cable' networks vs broadcast... they are just content owners) are looking to disintermediate cable networks.
Step 1: create a web/social media presence to measure internet market
Step 2: create non-broadcast content that you can't get over cable to measure 'capable demand' (those that can easily get internet content and will)
Step 3: Create apps/channels in youtube, iOS, android, AppleTV, Roku etc that make for a 'super DVR' that not only measure demand, 'identify it' (username/password/cable market, etc)
Step 4: Monetize these apps by in app purchases for on-demand and uber-live shows that aren't part of their cable packages
Step 5: Use that Cable Market information to recognize potential tipping points where negotiations can be stalled, and have planned 'picket lines' if the comcasts/TWC/Charter play hardball when the next contracts come up and the networks fight for non-exclusive distribution rights.
Step 6: Draw a line in the sand, and push back hard on the Comcast cableopoly in the US, by turning the customers against the cable companies. Demand a major license price increase for say, Discovery Channel, and when the cable companies say 'no, Opt out, and drive that audience to an monetized 'internet only' site/app/ATVchannel.
Step 7: Cable Companies have to realize they either own the content, or they are dumb pipes. like terrestrial and wireless phone companies.
Step 8: Content Networks cash out (NBC) by getting cable companies buy them, or they they go 'drop off cable' and stand on wireless and muni internet to bypass cable's internet final mile monopoly.
Step 9: Communities drop that monopoly power; require 'equal access' to any copper/fiber to the home (see 1984 ATT anti-trust ruling)
Step 10: Cable companies become utilities, and are regulated to make 5-10% profits. Great for the Google's of the world, not so good for the Charters ).
Steps 1-5a Major Content Creators (Sports Leagues, Franchises, Movie Studios, Production companies) build out their own 'channels' (NBA/MLS/NHL/NFL/MLB.com and production houses (think SpikeLee, Apatow, Tyler Perry, Oliver Stone, and the WillFerrells, JimmyKimmell's, GeorgeClooneys... large production houses that want complete artistic/economic control).
Apple TV can play both sides of this... by either becoming the STB for the local Cable co, making their content 'blend into' competitive content, or by being the low cost alternative box that allows cable cutters to cut the content side of cable, and just use the Internet side, until wireless, fiber, DLS can compete for bandwidth (Along with caching non-live content during off hours, optimizing bandwidth during your 'prime time')