Apple restarts talks with content owners for over-the-top, web-based TV service

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited February 2015
Apple has turned its back on cable companies and is once again courting television programmers in a bid to bring live television content to the Apple TV, a Wednesday report suggests, with talks reportedly in the "early stages."




Apple's new plan would be similar to Dish's Sling TV offering, according to Re/code. Sling TV, which remains in a private beta, bundles channels including ESPN and TNT for delivery over the internet to mobile devices or some set-top boxes for $20 per month.

While Apple has reportedly demonstrated its proposed service to content owners, details such as pricing and timing "aren't close to being ironed out" and the company apparently has yet to contact many content owners.

Apple is believed to have explored this strategy before. In 2013, the company began negotiations with ESPN, HBO, and Viacom about a similar service, and was reportedly willing to go as far as to become a virtual cable company itself.

At various times, Apple has also been in talks with cable companies. A string of reports in late 2013 and early 2014 suggested that Apple and Time Warner may be close to unveiling a partnership that would give Apple TV buyers access to Time Warner's cable services over the internet, but that plan is thought to have ended following Comcast's Time Warner takeover.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 78
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,632member
    A SlingTV channel on AppleTV would be a nice start
  • Reply 2 of 78
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,380member
    "and was reportedly willing to go as far as to become a virtual cable company itself.
    " ... and that's the answer.
  • Reply 3 of 78
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    So instead of one cable bill I'll have a bunch of separate bills for all the different content providers? No thanks. How about Apple just updated the hardware and UI that is incredibly out of date? It sure sounds like a grand solution isn't happening anytime soon.
  • Reply 4 of 78
    kent909kent909 Posts: 730member
    Why doesn't Apple just buy Netflix and Hulu. That gets them immediate access to the content, unless there are exit clauses in the contracts with the content providers if sold.
  • Reply 5 of 78
    kent909kent909 Posts: 730member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    So instead of one cable bill I'll have a bunch of separate bills for all the different content providers? No thanks. How about Apple just updated the hardware and UI that is incredibly out of date? It sure sounds like a grand solution isn't happening anytime soon.

    It would all be paid for via your Apple ID.

  • Reply 6 of 78
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    kent909 wrote: »
    It would all be paid for via your Apple ID.

    OK but how about creating something where I can pay for the channels I want rather than having to take these bundles? I don't know all the channels Viacom owns but I never watch MTV or VH1 so don't make me pay for them. I know that's a pipe dream but boy would that be awesome.
  • Reply 7 of 78
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,639member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    So instead of one cable bill I'll have a bunch of separate bills for all the different content providers? No thanks. How about Apple just updated the hardware and UI that is incredibly out of date? It sure sounds like a grand solution isn't happening anytime soon.

    I feel your frustration but the hardware and UI have nothing to do with the ability to cut the cable and offer individual channels without requiring a stupid cable or satellite contract. I dropped my Comcast phone, saving me $100/mo after some messing around by the local sales person. Even though I kept my long list of never-watched channels, I found myself only watching maybe ten channels on a regular basis. Give me standard network TV for when I'm bored then let me choose what I want to watch, don't sell me 200+ stations with nothing on 95% of them. I don't care about a UI when I only have to look at a few Apple TV channels. As for separate bills, I'm sure Apple could come up with a channel list menu to pick what you want and they'd take care of the billing part. After all, isn't Apple becoming a bank. ;-)

  • Reply 8 of 78
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,639member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kent909 View Post



    Why doesn't Apple just buy Netflix and Hulu. That gets them immediate access to the content, unless there are exit clauses in the contracts with the content providers if sold.

    Apple already has something comparable to Netflix streaming. Check the Movies channel. As for Hulu, they have lots of broadcast TV channels, which would be nice but I'm afraid the purchase price would be astronomical. Look at Microsoft spending $100M for a calendar app (company). 

  • Reply 9 of 78
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    rob53 wrote: »
    Apple already has something comparable to Netflix streaming. Check the Movies channel. As for Hulu, they have lots of broadcast TV channels, which would be nice but I'm afraid the purchase price would be astronomical. Look at Microsoft spending $100M for a calendar app (company). 

    Plus I think Tim Cook has said Apple doesn't want to get into the content creation business. They buy Netflix and they're smack dab in the middle of it.
  • Reply 10 of 78
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,639member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post





    OK but how about creating something where I can pay for the channels I want rather than having to take these bundles? I don't know all the channels Viacom owns but I never watch MTV or VH1 so don't make me pay for them. I know that's a pipe dream but boy would that be awesome.



    You said what I said before I could reply to you. The problem with a la carte programming is the good channels I want to watch, History, Science, Discovery, etc., would cost a fortune each because of the lower viewer audience. These channels are paid for, along with the garbage shopping network channels and other trash TV, by the highly watched channel income. I'd still like to see if Apple could pull this off by charging for each channel and see if there's enough volume to get the lower watched channels to bite.

  • Reply 11 of 78
    rob53 wrote: »


    You said what I said before I could reply to you. The problem with a la carte programming is the good channels I want to watch, History, Science, Discovery, etc., would cost a fortune each because of the lower viewer audience. These channels are paid for, along with the garbage shopping network channels and other trash TV, by the highly watched channel income. I'd still like to see if Apple could pull this off by charging for each channel and see if there's enough volume to get the lower watched channels to bite.

    Tell me why I should subsidize your viewing habits?
  • Reply 12 of 78
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,584member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post





    OK but how about creating something where I can pay for the channels I want rather than having to take these bundles? I don't know all the channels Viacom owns but I never watch MTV or VH1 so don't make me pay for them. I know that's a pipe dream but boy would that be awesome.



    Theoretically, unbundling would be great, but as a recent New York Times article pointed out with reference to the airlines and hotels, unbundling of fees has increased the total amount people must spend, not decreased it.   And it's really annoying getting nickel and dimed to death.

     

    So if your cable provider (or Apple or anyone) charges $5 per channel per month, while that sounds reasonable, you could easily wind up paying the same amount or more for many fewer channels.         

     

    I've always said that I was "stuck" with cable because if I drop my cable sub, my cable modem service fees go up because I lose the bundle price, but my cable bill came today with a $24 monthly increase.   They didn't even have the courtesy to explain the increase.   If they don't reduce the increase, I'm going to drop cable tomorrow.   These people are nuts.  

  • Reply 13 of 78
    rogifan wrote: »
    OK but how about creating something where I can pay for the channels I want rather than having to take these bundles? I don't know all the channels Viacom owns but I never watch MTV or VH1 so don't make me pay for them. I know that's a pipe dream but boy would that be awesome.

    Why not just pay for the shows you want?

    In an on-demand world... the concept of "channels" doesn't really make sense anymore.

    If you only want to pay for what you watch... then pay for shows.
  • Reply 14 of 78
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 13,001member
    Why not just pay for the shows you want?

    In an on-demand world... the concept of "channels" doesn't really make sense anymore.

    If you only want to pay for what you watch... then pay for shows.

    How do you find shows you want? Many of the shows I like to watch I found by channel surfing.
  • Reply 15 of 78
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,639member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    How do you find shows you want? Many of the shows I like to watch I found by channel surfing.

    Which is much easier to do with your remote than going through AppleTV channels, Netflix, or Hulu, just to name a few. Pushing the up button is easier to scroll through 200 channels than to search through 10000 shows.

  • Reply 16 of 78
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,107member
    I reckon if Apple can't get a deal it should raise the old pirate flag again in Cupertino. start with giving Apple TV inbuilt protection from geoblocking. If that doesn't bring the media execs to the table, escalate.
  • Reply 17 of 78
    rob53 wrote: »
    kent909 wrote: »
    Look at Microsoft spending $100M for a calendar app (company). 

    ...and MS only got the first 10 months too. /s

    What does this story mean, "...with talks reportedly in the early stages"?
    Are they just hanging out together? Are they exchanging phone numbers and texting each other? WTF?
  • Reply 18 of 78
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,435member

    Working with the TV guys seems pointless. Maybe the better route is to upgrade the hardware and OS in the AppleTV so that it can be an app platform. Content providers who want to make apps can do so. Don't make it about some big negotiation -- just put out the platform and bring in individual content providers as they are ready to make the transition. 

     

    The AppleTV is already reasonable successful despite little marketing attention and out of date specs. Apple could sell enough to make the platform interesting to more forward-thinking content producers, and the laggards could follow later. 

  • Reply 19 of 78
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    How do you find shows you want? Many of the shows I like to watch I found by channel surfing.

    I have no idea... I was merely addressing this common complaint:

    "I'm paying for 200 channels that I don't want"

    It sounds like a value for money situation. So naturally... people think a la carte channels are the solution.

    But even if you could choose certain channels a la carte... you'd still be paying for those channels even when you're asleep and at work. That might be a little better... but you're still paying for stuff you cannot possibly watch... which goes back to the original problem.

    So I suggested... stop paying for "channels" that you cannot possibly watch 24/7... and just pay for the "shows" you want.

    If people don't want to pay for channels they don't want... why would they pay for an entire channel that contains shows they don't want?

    You can't like EVERY show on Discovery Channel... can ya? :)

    And even if you did... there aren't enough hours in the day to watch them all.

    Rogifan said he doesn't want to pay for MTV or VH1. That's understandable. But even his favorite channels have stuff that he won't watch... yet he will still be paying for.

    Which... again... goes back to the original problem of paying for stuff you don't want.

    .
  • Reply 20 of 78
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    Tell me why I should subsidize your viewing habits?

    Because he's subsidizing yours?
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    How do you find shows you want? Many of the shows I like to watch I found by channel surfing.

    And how do you find the channels you want?
    It's easy today to say what you want, but if standard TV and cable are cut in favor of on demand streaming, 10 years from now how will we know what we want?
    rogifan wrote: »
    OK but how about creating something where I can pay for the channels I want rather than having to take these bundles? I don't know all the channels Viacom owns but I never watch MTV or VH1 so don't make me pay for them. I know that's a pipe dream but boy would that be awesome.

    And expensive!

    This would also have to include the same amount of commercials which people will complain about too.
    Younger people throw a fit over a :30 second skippable ad before a 20 minute video.

    TL:DR: there's no simple solution. Everything people want sounds great in theory but is far from practical. Apple must have a solution up their sleeve.
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