Several months ago, rumors of Apple launching a subscription TV streaming service were among the hottest topics on the internet. Many expected Apple to unveil the service along with a new Apple TV set-top box during June’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. However, just before WWDC, it was revealed that negotiations to air local programming on the new Apple TV device would likely delay the launch of the service. WWDC came and went with no word of either the new Apple TV hardware or the subscription TV service.
New reports state that Apple has made a breakthrough in their negotiations with ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. Apple may be getting ready to jump their biggest hurdle — gaining the rights to stream local live TV feeds on their service. Because networks often don’t control affiliate feeds, Apple would be required to chase down the rights holders of every affiliate for separate negotiations. Instead, CEO Tim Cook requested that the networks obtain those rights themselves – ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox would handle deals with all of their local broadcasters, and Apple would then only be forced to deal with the larger networks. It appears as if the strategy is beginning to pay off. According to the New York Post, “the networks are close to having the rights to negotiate with Apple on behalf of their affiliates”.
To sweeten the deal, affiliate groups are reportedly being told that they would receive a portion of the revenue Apple’s streaming service will produce if they opt in. The New York Post claims that Fox and CBS already have, or are close to obtaining the ability to negotiate on behalf of their affiliates. However, money is “still a negotiation” said one source for the New York Post.
If all goes as planned, we may see Apple’s service launch as soon as late fall of this year. Although no official word has been released yet, the service is expected to cost between $30-$40 per month, and will likely stream popular channels such as The Disney Channel, The Discovery Channel, and ESPN as well as the major four networks and their affiliates. Apple’s new streaming service, along with the recent addition of HBO Now and the new Showtime a-la-carte streaming option, could allow cord-cutters to disconnect from cable and satellite providers for good.