Apple wants subscription TV service to include live local broadcasts, content rights remain roadbloc

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited May 2015
The main hold-up in Apple launching a subscription TV service is content rights, with a new report on Friday saying the company could again face delays as it seeks to include live, local network television stations.




Network broadcasts are freely available through the use of an old-fashioned, over-the-air antenna. But the rights to streaming those very same broadcasts over public airways aren't so simple.

That appears to be one of the major stumbling blocks for Apple as it looks to launch a subscription TV service, according to Re/code. Reporters Peter Kafka and Dawn Chmielewski said on Friday that Apple may not be able to launch its service this fall, as originally intended, because of issues in negotiations with content owners.

Still, the service appears to be a matter of "when," not "if," as TV executives reportedly indicated they believe money is the main sticking point between the industry and Apple.

But at the moment, it's not believed that any content owners have officially signed up for Apple's rumored service. That means it's unlikely that it will be announced alongside an anticipated new Apple TV set-top box at next month's Worldwide Developers Conference.


Apple CEO Tim Cook announces new Apple TV pricing at April's "Spring Forward" event.


According to the report, Apple not only wants to have access to local broadcast TV, but also on a wide scale, across the U.S. Doing so will be a challenge, as even ABC itself reportedly spent two years obtaining the rights to live broadcasting for just eight cities with its Watch ABC app, available for devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Reports from earlier this year indicated Apple was looking to charge a base price of between $30 and $40 per month for its anticipated subscription TV service. Including widespread access to local network stations would be a key differentiator from competing services like Dish's Sling TV or Sony's Vue.

It's been claimed that Apple is in talks with broadcast networks ABC, CBS and Fox, as well as other cable networks owned by Viacom and Discovery, though apparently talks have stalled with Comcast-owned NBC.

As for the new Apple TV set-top box, a major revamp of the hardware is expected when WWDC kicks off on June 8. Rumors have said the new Apple TV will feature an A8 processor, a dedicated App Store, Siri voice controls, and a new touchpad controller.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    thewhitefalconthewhitefalcon Posts: 4,453member
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but Dish Network offers most local channels in their packages these days. Clearly it can be done (though I recall it did take time to add them all).

    I would think you could start with at least one major city group of flagship stations to represent every time zone and then build from there.
  • Reply 2 of 41
    ipon70ipon70 Posts: 5member
    Here's an idea. Apple has your mailing address and everything else about you from your Itunes account. Why not just stream whatever the local commercials are for that area to you. Done fixed!!

    I can't wait to see all those crappy locally produced Medford commercials again, that I have been "missing" since I disconnected tv 5 years ago.
  • Reply 3 of 41
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,221member
    Local stations are forced by the FCC. You cant required cable services to have local feeds and at the same time have content owners block them.

    Either Apple is required and the content owners are force to STFU, or Apple is not required to carry local stations...
  • Reply 4 of 41
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,433member
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but Dish Network offers most local channels in their packages these days. Clearly it can be done (though I recall it did take time to add them all).

    I would think you could start with at least one major city group of flagship stations to represent every time zone and then build from there.
    I'm with you. I have every local broadcast on my DirecTV service in LA, including stations I didn't even know existed. I believe this is true for every local TV station based on a customers registered zip code. I'd love to know more about what these streaming limitations are. I could stream all of my local stations through my Time Warner account as well, so maybe it has to do with the licenses that ABC and others have already granted to the cable and satellite operators. The problem with offering a single major city is that none of the local advertising gets to its intended viewers, which is why I think DirecTV in particular offers all of them now. Perhaps this is part of the problem ABC faces as well, offering all of those local streams dependent on a customers location.
  • Reply 5 of 41
    stargazerctstargazerct Posts: 227member
    Why can't Apple just build a digital antennae into the box...they're pretty small these days? The OS can then automatically handle getting the feed from that source in the background when you switch to that channel.
  • Reply 6 of 41
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    But how important are these stations and are they worth the time lost?

    I wonder if all this time it's taking Apple to secure these deals is/will hurt them.

    Would Apple be better off launching the service sooner and slowly adding content through the years?

    Certainly Netflix and others aren't standing still.
  • Reply 7 of 41
    eliangonzaleliangonzal Posts: 490member

    "...they believe money is the main sticking point..."

     

    Well, *this* is truly unexpected!

  • Reply 8 of 41
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Why can't Apple just build a digital antennae into the box...they're pretty small these days? The OS can then automatically handle getting the feed from that source in the background when you switch to that channel.

    Apparently it's taken Microsoft over 2 years to get this working for XBox. Also who wants to watch TV over an antenna with a sometime crappy signal?
  • Reply 9 of 41
    zroger73zroger73 Posts: 710member

    I've not yet "cut the cord", but I did recently install an outdoor antenna and receive ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CW, and some other "junk".

     

    I'd like to see an Apple TV that excludes local programming (considering that's a "hold up"), but includes a tuner for such.

  • Reply 10 of 41
    mj webmj web Posts: 918member
    I relegated my old Apple TV to a 2007 LED TV. Both feel like "soviet era" products by today's standards. I'm no fan of Samsung, but my 2015 4K panel features state of the art hardware, software, and an extremely slick point and click laser UI. At a minimum an updated Apple TV will have to stream 4K. I assume it can with a A8. The interface and software will require modernization as well. I expect that's what a new Apple TV looks like on paper.

    As for TV streaming services, Apple has been trying to craft a deal with the networks since SJ was still alive and well. Years later it's still in the rumor stage. I have no doubt Apple will pull it off but it's all dependent on releasing a modern Apple TV first.
  • Reply 11 of 41
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,886member

    It's amazing that all these people don't work for Apple. The solution would be so simple. This issue is more complex than many realize. The sentence about it taking 2 years to get only 8 of their own stations up is very telling. If anybody can unravel this Gordion knot, Apple can, but it will neither be fast nor cheap.

  • Reply 12 of 41
    giffengiffen Posts: 30member

    They really need to stop trying to bundle things together that people don't want.  I and most Americans can get the networks in HD for free using just a cheap HD antenna, please don't add them to your service and then make me pay for things I can get for free.  At the very least make the networks an add on package and NOT part of the base.

    It's this "one size fits all" mentality that is driving people away from cable tv in droves right now.

  • Reply 13 of 41
    Good for Apple, sticking up for us who no longer pay $180 a month but still want to see our local news.
  • Reply 14 of 41
    ksecksec Posts: 1,560member

    The biggest news here is Apple want to move all local TV network on to the Internet and delivered to any Internet connected (apple) devices.

     

    However i am not sure how the Network and broadband today is going to handle it.

  • Reply 15 of 41
    kent909kent909 Posts: 709member
    Someone please explain to me how this approach benefits the content providers. I cannot imagine that they will lose viewers by being available on another device. More viewers means more revenue, right? Cable is already losing customers, by making the content available to cord cutters another way seems to be a way to recover lost viewers. Technological advances continuously suffer due to stupidity, fear and greed.
  • Reply 16 of 41
    thewhitefalconthewhitefalcon Posts: 4,453member
    mj web wrote: »
    I relegated my old Apple TV to a 2007 LED TV. Both feel like "soviet era" products by today's standards. I'm no fan of Samsung, but my 2015 4K panel features state of the art hardware, software, and an extremely slick point and click laser UI. At a minimum an updated Apple TV will have to stream 4K. I assume it can with a A8. The interface and software will require modernization as well. I expect that's what a new Apple TV looks like on paper.

    As for TV streaming services, Apple has been trying to craft a deal with the networks since SJ was still alive and well. Years later it's still in the rumor stage. I have no doubt Apple will pull it off but it's all dependent on releasing a modern Apple TV first.

    You have no clue what a Soviet-era product feels like. And congrats on supporting Samsung, who stole their 4K tech from Sony (who had a 4K TV in 2008). Supporting the actual innovator is passe these days I suppose.
  • Reply 17 of 41
    b9botb9bot Posts: 238member

    There are always roadblocks in negotiations for new stuff. Apple always gets through these somehow. It really isn't news.

  • Reply 18 of 41
    kit_ckit_c Posts: 16member
    >Correct me if I'm wrong, but Dish Network offers most local
    > channels in their packages these days. Clearly it can be done
    > (though I recall it did take time to add them all).


    The article is talking about streaming services, like Dish's Sling TV, not their satellite broadcast service.
  • Reply 19 of 41
    thewhitefalconthewhitefalcon Posts: 4,453member
    kit_c wrote: »
    >Correct me if I'm wrong, but Dish Network offers most local
    > channels in their packages these days. Clearly it can be done
    > (though I recall it did take time to add them all).


    The article is talking about streaming services, like Dish's Sling TV, not their satellite broadcast service.

    The point is that satellite bypassess the typical local OTA format already.
  • Reply 20 of 41
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 795member
    Apple just needs to encourage people to get local TV through the over-the-air HDTV signals no one uses by installing an antenna port or better by manufacturing a compact HDTV antenna and decoder as a stop-gap, add-on manuever and work on negotiations over time.

    Having a technological solution will force the negotiations along as well...Apple shouldn't have to kow tow to these providers/middle entities who are interfering with the future.
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