AT&T CEO claims HBO will glean consumer data from Apple TV viewers

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in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson in an interview this week said HBO will have access to viewer data from third-party distribution channels like Apple TV, seemingly contradicting Apple's stance on total consumer privacy.


AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.


Stephenson aired what appear to be solidified plans on WarnerMedia's data sharing strategy with CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin at the Fintech Ideas Festival on Wednesday. Of note, the AT&T chief seemed adamant that outside distribution deals with internet-based services like Roku, and the forthcoming Apple TV Channels, include viewer information.

Access to customer data is "critical" and "foundational" to AT&T's overarching media distribution strategy, Stephenson said, implying that all deals concerning WarnerMedia properties include some type of data sharing provision.

Sorkin asked if that included Apple.

"Just pick the one you want to pick, we will have access to data," Stephenson said. "It's critical to everything we're trying to do. It's critical to the content creation algorithm, it's critical to advertising delivery, it's critical to marketing. It's really critical to everything we're trying to do."

The revelation runs counter to assurances made by Apple in introducing Apple TV Channels.

Introduced by vice president Peter Stern, Channels is an upcoming Apple TV feature that will allow customers to subscribe to premium networks directly from the TV app. AT&T's HBO is on the launch list, as are Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, Epix and more.

As with nearly all of Apple's Monday announcements, Stern hammered home the company's dedication to user privacy.

"The Apple TV app delivers on all these principles, including out commitment that we won't share your personal information with anyone," Stern said, alluding to features like expert curation, personalization and family sharing.

It should be noted that while Apple said it does not allow data sharing like advertiser tracking on Apple News+, or similar methods with Apple Card, the company did not make the same overt promises for Apple TV Channels.

AppleInsider reached out to Apple for clarification and will update if a response is received.

Apple TV Channels is set to debut in May alongside an update to the TV app. Prices for premium services have not been revealed, though some predict subscriptions to run $10 per month.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    On one hand I find it completely insane that he would have the nerve to lie so blatantly, but on the other... what else could he possibly do? What an effin douche.
    MacProcornchipMisterKitbshankolsDeelronjahblade
  • Reply 2 of 37
    From a company that will blatantly lie about having mobile coverage in an area, this is rich. 
    lordjohnwhorfinracerhomie3pscooter63bshankolsDeelronStrangeDaysjahblade
  • Reply 3 of 37
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,637member
    It comes down to the details about the users. Just saying  x number of people are watching that is fine, but providing more details about who you are is different thing. I think Apple will share high level information but nothing specific about. Google I the on the other hand brings lots of data about you and your interest and habits and use it to make money.
    applesauce007
  • Reply 4 of 37
    emoelleremoeller Posts: 453member
    Of course Apple will share some data with partners, including app developers, news+ magazines, music and media companies.  What they won't do is share your personal data.   It will probably be aggregated and anonamized.   Content providers including Apple need to know something about their audiences and what they like and dislike in order to improve the content.  No news here, Stephenson's statements do NOT "run counter assurances made by Apple".


    hmurchisonSconnieFellabshankmdriftmeyerapplesauce007Deelronrandominternetpersonjahblademicrobe
  • Reply 5 of 37
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,273member
    Cook said “advertisers” wouldn’t have the data which is different than the content providers. 
    cornchiptrashman69randominternetperson
  • Reply 6 of 37
    It's possible to share "customer data" with media distribution companies without sharing personal data. Dissociated or anonymised data would still service the strategy needs of providers and is generally inline with Apple's privacy commitments to consumers.

    What this data won't be however is the viewing information of personally identifiable individuals. Apple's collection method may not even provide this level of resolution.
    dws-2bshankpscooter63hmurchison
  • Reply 7 of 37
    NY1822NY1822 Posts: 599member
    on a side note, they got my payment info and email address with their scam of offering the silicone apple iphone xs case for $4.99 as a special deal only to send me an email saying the case was on backorder and would ship in 2 months, then 2 days later another email saying the order was canceled. This deal was promoted on 9to5toys and had multiple  complaints in the comments section after the fact.
    lostkiwijbdragon
  • Reply 8 of 37
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,894member
    Cook said “advertisers” wouldn’t have the data which is different than the content providers. 
    Apple often uses "for advertising and marketing" as a limiter. Note the same phrase used with the Apple Card privacy statement.
    "But they will never share or sell your data to third parties for marketing or advertising."
    hmurchisonrandominternetperson
  • Reply 9 of 37
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,176member
    This shouldn't be confusing. Any on-demand, streaming service will have to authenticate the user account and you can easily check most (all?) of them to see a history of your viewing habits. This is all done via the streaming service's servers, which Apple has no control.
    chasmrandominternetperson
  • Reply 10 of 37
    On one hand I find it completely insane that he would have the nerve to lie so blatantly, but on the other... what else could he possibly do? What an effin douche.
    Why would you assume he's lying?  I'm guessing it's because you don't understand what Apple qualifies as personal information. 
    Apple defines personal information as: data that can be used to identify or contact a single person.  So they can easily say they aren't sharing personal information without being dishonest.  Apple never states they won't share non-personal information.  Non-personal data has a less stringent sharing parameters.  In fact Apple states: We also collect data in a form that does not, on its own, permit direct association with any specific individual. We may collect, use, transfer, and disclose non-personal information for any purpose. 
    Examples of non-personal information and some examples of how Apple uses it:  We may collect information such as occupation, language, zip code, area code, unique device identifier, referrer URL, location, and the time zone where an Apple product is used so that we can better understand customer behavior and improve our products, services, and advertising. 

    So he has no reason to lie because Apple is probably not sharing personal information with AT&T beyond what's necessary to manage the account.  But non-personal information like the type listed above?  Yeah, I bet they're getting some of that.
    edited March 27 chemenginbeowulfschmidtrandominternetperson
  • Reply 11 of 37
    Will Apple be able to prevent people from accessing Apple TV+ services using a VPN? I'm just curious.
  • Reply 12 of 37
    Commonsense65Commonsense65 Posts: 3unconfirmed, member
    AT&T is in debt to the gills. They need to scare anyone and everyone. Between Directly TV and Direct TV now, they cannot afford to lose any customers. 
  • Reply 13 of 37
    MisterKitMisterKit Posts: 269member
    From the CEO of the company advertising 4G as being 5G.
    pscooter63dewmeStrangeDays
  • Reply 14 of 37
    On one hand I find it completely insane that he would have the nerve to lie so blatantly, but on the other... what else could he possibly do? What an effin douche.
    Why would you assume he's lying? 
    Because his lips were moving. Lies and distorsions are all you're ever going to get from this ahole, and if you believe otherwise, AT&T is all you deserve.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 15 of 37
    "It's critical to the content creation algorithm"
    I think that's how he perceives making televisions shows....a 'content creation algorithm'. I'm sure creative talent is running to work with him.

    Of course Apple will have to share what people are watching. How else can a service/studio know WHAT to make?

    -M

    tenthousandthingsrogifan_newrandominternetperson
  • Reply 16 of 37
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,336member
    Aggregate viewer data is not a breach of privacy. As long as it’s not attached to user information on and is anonymous.
    MisterKit
  • Reply 17 of 37
    My guess is that you'll have a unique ID with HBO, and other services. So for example they'll know that your account watches both Game of Thrones and Dexter, but they won't know what your name is and they certainly won't know if you were googling for butt plugs recently.
  • Reply 18 of 37
    My guess is that you'll have a unique ID with HBO, and other services. So for example they'll know that your account watches both Game of Thrones and Dexter, but they won't know what your name is and they certainly won't know if you were googling for butt plugs recently.
    Are you tracking me?!?  ;)
    randominternetpersonStrangeDays
  • Reply 19 of 37
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,176member
    My guess is that you'll have a unique ID with HBO, and other services. So for example they'll know that your account watches both Game of Thrones and Dexter, but they won't know what your name is and they certainly won't know if you were googling for butt plugs recently.
    How would HBO be able to 1) authenticate an account and 2) show your viewing history when you log into your account from another device if they don't know what an account is watching?
    gatorguyentropys
  • Reply 20 of 37
    Soli said:
    This shouldn't be confusing. Any on-demand, streaming service will have to authenticate the user account and you can easily check most (all?) of them to see a history of your viewing habits. This is all done via the streaming service's servers, which Apple has no control.
    If your subscription is with Apple, then Apple authenticates you and takes their cut. You are then just a number to AT&T or any other on-demand content provider.
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