Rumors of a live streaming TV service from Apple have been around for over a year now. Early in 2015, Apple was reportedly in talks with multiple big-name TV networks to begin offering a “skinny bundle” of some of the most popular channels to subscribers for a low monthly price of around $30-$40.
The rumor hit home with a growing contingent of “cord-cutters” who are sick of paying inflated prices to cable and satellite companies for packages full of channels they don’t watch. Right behind the rumors of an “Apple Car”, the subscription TV service was one of the most talked-about rumors in 2015. After reports of several delays, talk of the service peaked last fall, right before the release of the 4th generation Apple TV. Many expected an announcement regarding the service last September, during the launch of the Apple TV, but the event came and went with no word of the service.
According to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, however, the negotiations with several of the world’s largest TV networks that stalled in 2015 eventually fell through. The reason? Apple’s hard-nosed negotiation tactics.
According to the report, negotiations for a streaming TV bundle began all the way back in 2009. Although Apple offered generous fees to the network, however, their desire to only include specific channels soured the deal with media companies. Two years later, talks with Time Warner and Comcast again fell flat, reportedly due to Apple’s now-infamous secrecy with their plans. In 2014, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue again struck up talks with Time Warner, but his lofty demands for how the service would work turned Time Warner execs off to the idea.
After Cue’s negotiations with Time Warner fell through, he allegedly approached Disney, Fox, CBS, and several other companies with the service. The idea was to offer several channels from the popular networks, as well as local broadcast TV and a library of on-demand content for a low price of around $30 per month. According to the report, however, Cue wouldn’t budge when several of the networks asked for concessions in Cue’s plans – most networks wanted to bundle more content for a higher price. When TV networks pushed for a bit more cooperation from Apple, Cue reportedly balked and told several executives during that “time is on [his] side”. According to the Wall Street Journal, negotiations eventually fell through as executives worried that “agreeing to Apple’s terms would entitle other distributors to the same treatment.”
At the moment, there are no plans to fire up talks for a “skinny bundle” for Apple TV users. Apple is instead focusing on creating in-house content, as well as allowing networks to develop their own apps for the device. However, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple’s efforts in television are just beginning. “You shouldn’t look at what’s there today and think we’ve done what we want to do.” The way the general public consumes television content is obviously changing, and it’s not unreasonable to think that Apple will have a large say in what the future of TV looks like.
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