Apple believes the future of TV is apps, but it’s increasingly apparent that it will be awhile before a pay TV app from Apple becomes a significant part of that future.
Apple’s plan to create a slimmed-down pay TV package with nation-wide access has been rumored to be delayed time and time again, but a Bloomberg report splashes a new coat of paint on those strained efforts with word that Apple has put the plan on the backburner again because of continued difficulties coming to terms with programmers, which want more than what Apple’s currently willing to pay.
Apple, which is said to want to offer a small package of channels for $30 to $40 per month, “is instead focusing on being a platform for media companies to sell directly to customers through its App Store,” Bloomberg said, citing an unnamed person with knowledge of the situation.
That strategy would seemingly come into play on the heels of the new Apple TV, a streaming device outfitted with a new operating system that will enable the platform to support multitudes of apps, including those from TV programmers and TV distributors. Apple will need to develop this plan amid heated competition from Roku, which has had some success building partnerships with MVPDs, and Amazon, which has begun to bundle subscription video services with Prime, a move that makes the online retailer start to take on MVPD-like attributes.
While Apple’s over-the-top pay TV plan has long been the subject of rumors, CBS CEO Les Moonves added some significant weight to what the CE giant had in mind on Tuesday when he made comments at a Business Insider Ignition conference in New York that the initiative is in a holding pattern.
“They’ve had conversations on it and I think they pressed the hold button,” Moonves said, according to Bloomberg. “They were looking for a service.”
Moonves, though, was upbeat about the prospects of skinny bundles and offered some thoughts on what Apple wants to accomplish. “This will happen,” the CBS exec said. “It has four major networks and 10 cable networks, let’s say, and the price point will be in the $30s, $30 to $35, $40 maybe. People will not be spending money on channels they don’t want to watch."
Bloomberg’s report is just another chapter in Apple’s long-stalled pay TV efforts. Reports surfaced earlier that Apple pushed any launch plans to sometime in 2016 due to ongoing snags in its talks with programmers. Industry sources have confirmed earlier reports that Apple and Comcast had been talking for years about a deal that would enable an Apple-powered device to offer a mix of live TV and other subscription video services in partnership with the MSO over managed IP connections that did not intermingle with capacity set aside for high-speed broadband service. But those talks never got very far, and Comcast has instead pushed forward with its own next-gen platform, X1.