Apple Inc.’s big plans to build an online television service are coming into sharper focus and better shape. The company is in discussion with programmers to offer a slimmed-down bundle of TV networks this fall, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Reports suggest the service would consist of 25 channels, anchored by broadcasters such as ABC, CBS and Fox and would be available on Apple devices such as the Apple TV, they said. Currently, the talks don’t involve NBCUniversal, owner of the NBC broadcast network and cable channels like USA and Bravo, because of falling-out between Apple and NBCUniversal parent company Comcast Corp., the people familiar with the matter said.
As recently as last year, Apple and Comcast were discussing about working together on a streaming television platform that would help them combine their expertise and strength – Apple’s expertise in user interface and Comcast’s strength in broadband delivery. Apple based to believe that Comcast was stringing it along while the cable giant focused on its own X1 Web-enabled set-top box, the people said. One media report said without NBCUniversal channels, it may be very tough for Apple to launch its service.
At the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the official news and details are expected to be announced and could the service may roll out in September at prices ranging from $30 to $40 per month.
In the meanwhile, Apple has been in discussion with Walt Disney Co, CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox Inc. among other media companies. The idea is to offer consumers a ‘skinny’ bundle with popular channels like CBS, ESPN and FX, while leaving out the many smaller networks in the standard cable TV package.