Will Ap­ple Un­veil Its First TV Stream­ing Ser­vice at WWDC?

Ap­ple has been al­lud­ing to its TV as­pi­ra­tions for years, and now it ap­pears that the com­pany is fi­nally ready to take cen­ter stage with its plan to trans­form mod­ern tele­vi­sion. Ditch­ing ca­ble for stream­ing ser­vices has been an in­ter­est­ing pro­posal since t

iPhone Life Magazine - - iNews - by Jor­dan Joynt

Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook shared his most di­rect com­ments to date dur­ing Ap­ple's end-of-quar­ter con­fer­ence call in April. He said to ex­pect “ma­jor, ma­jor changes in media that are go­ing to be re­ally great for con­sumers," and that Ap­ple planned to have a hand in these changes.

Cook's com­ments came on the heels of Ap­ple's new part­ner­ship with HBO, for the first time let­ting con­sumers ac­cess the pre­mium net­work's pro­grams for $15 per month with­out pay­ing for a bun­dled ca­ble pack­age.

How Ap­ple's TV Ser­vice Could Work

Ac­cord­ing to a 2014 Niel­son re­port, the av­er­age Amer­i­can ca­ble sub­scriber gets ac­cess to a prepack­aged bun­dle of 189 chan­nels, but regularly watches a mere 17 chan­nels. And sub­scribers pay an av­er­age of $90 month for this ac­cess, whether they use the chan­nels or not.

Ap­ple's ser­vice would counter ca­ble's un­com­pro­mis- ing ap­proach. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the Wall Street Jour­nal, as of March, Ap­ple was work­ing to reach deals with pro­gram­mers, in­clud­ing ABC, CBS, and Fox. Based on ac­counts from sources fa­mil­iar with Ap­ple, the Jour­nal laid out de­tails of what the tech gi­ant's ser­vice might look like, say­ing the sub­scrip­tion will cost $30– $40 and of­fer ac­cess to 25 chan­nels from ma­jor net­works, po­ten­tially in­clud­ing ESPN, Com­edy Cen­tral, FX, and MTV. They say Ap­ple is opt­ing for a slimmed-down of­fer­ing by only part­ner­ing with ma­jor net­works in­stead of the hun­dreds of chan­nels that stan­dard ca­ble of­fers.

A no­table ab­sen­tee from the agree­ment is Com­cas­towned NBCUniver­sal. While Ap­ple and Com­cast were re­port­edly in talks last year, the Jour­nal's sources said Ap­ple be­came con­vinced that Com­cast in­tended to pro­mote its own stream­ing set-top box with its X1 plat­form.

Even with the loss of NBCUniver­sal, Ap­ple still has plenty of of­fer­ings on the ta­ble to carry out a com­peti-

“Ac­cord­ing to a 2014 Niel­son re­port, the av­er­age Amer­i­can ca­ble sub­scriber gets ac­cess to a prepack­aged bun­dle of 189 chan­nels, but regularly watches a mere 17 chan­nels.”

tive sub­scrip­tion ser­vice. In early March, Ap­ple an­nounced its part­ner­ship with HBO to launch HBO Now, for the first time of­fer­ing ac­cess to the net­work for $15 per month. If the ser­vice starts to pick up steam, it could be pos­si­ble for oth­ers to part­ner up, in­clud­ing Com­cast.

Fol­low­ing Ap­ple's usual prod­uct re­lease pat­tern, both the sub­scrip­tion ser­vice and an up­dated Ap­ple TV will likely be an­nounced in June at WWDC and re­leased in Septem­ber. In ad­di­tion to aes­thetic changes, the set­top box will also in­clude the latest A8 pro­ces­sor, added stor­age, and a re­vamped op­er­at­ing sys­tem, a source told Buz­zFeed. It's also ex­pected to work with Homekit-en­abled de­vices. Other apps and mu­sic func­tion­al­ity will be a prob­a­ble ex­ten­sion as well. Tellingly, the com­pany web­site lists the de­vice as "start­ing at $69," in­sin­u­at­ing the com­ing of a higher-priced model.

The Back­story

Spec­u­la­tion started to arise about Ap­ple's TV plans back in 2009. That year, Ap­ple pitched a TV ser­vice to net­works that would stream via iTunes and cost $30, ac­cord­ing to Al­lThingsD.

At the time, how­ever, Ap­ple TV failed to pick up a mas­sive fol­low­ing. Ap­ple has sold more than 25 mil­lion units of the set-top box to date, which is still a frac­tion of the sales the iPhone and iPad have gar­nered. Since iTunes al­ready had 100 mil­lion users, Ap­ple re­port­edly set­tled on the mu­sic soft­ware as the driv­ing force for the TV stream­ing ser­vice. Us­ing iTunes still makes sense to­day. It con­tin­ues to be very pop­u­lar among users, and it doesn't hurt that you can find iTunes on any Mac or iOS de­vice.

Since 2009, Ap­ple has clearly had a hard time get­ting the sup­port it needs from broad­cast and ca­ble TV pro­gram­mers. Still, CEO Tim Cook hasn't passed on op­por- tu­ni­ties to in­sult the state of tele­vi­sion, call­ing it “stuck back in the '70s” in an in­ter­view on the Char­lie Rose show last Septem­ber. “Think about how much your life has changed, and all the things around you that have changed,” Cook said. “And yet … when you go in your liv­ing room to watch the TV, or wher­ever it might be, it al­most feels like you're rewind­ing the clock and you've en­tered a time capsule and you're go­ing back­wards. The in­ter­face is ter­ri­ble.”

The Com­pe­ti­tion

While Ap­ple TV ap­pears to be gain­ing mo­men­tum, it's not the only one. Other sub­scrip­tion ser­vices such as Net­flix and Hulu have started to of­fer more flex­i­bil­ity, while oth­ers, like Sling TV, Dish Net­work's new $20/ month stream­ing TV pack­age, con­tinue to gain pop­u­lar­ity. These op­tions are al­ready caus­ing peo­ple to cut the cord with ca­ble.

Other ques­tions re­main. Will Ap­ple's stream­ing ser­vice be that much cheaper than ca­ble? Be­cause some com­pa­nies have ex­clu­sive deals with Net­flix and Hulu, will users save any money if they need to buy sub­scrip­tions to these ser­vices on top of Ap­ple's? Price will likely weigh heav­ily on peo­ple's de­ci­sions. Af­ter all, most peo­ple look­ing to drop their cur­rent ca­ble ser­vice also want to save money in the long run. Sling is likely go­ing to be Ap­ple's big­gest com­peti­tor out of the box. It costs $20 for the ba­sic pack­age and in­cludes 20 chan­nels, in­clud­ing ESPN and the Food Net­work.

Ca­ble providers could step up the com­pe­ti­tion as well, by un­bundling their chan­nels and of­fer­ing slimmed-down pack­ages that al­low cus­tomers to pick and choose the chan­nels they want.

Wait and See

A new tele­vi­sion ser­vice, and pos­si­bly other in­ter­est­ing gad­gets, will sup­pos­edly make an ap­pear­ance at WWDC in June. A TV ser­vice would be an ex­cit­ing new en­deavor for Ap­ple and con­sumers alike. But, now that the likes of Ama­zon, Net­flix, and Sling have grown into stream­ing pow­er­houses, there's no doubt that Ap­ple will be fac­ing some pretty stiff com­pe­ti­tion. Will Ap­ple's stream­ing ser­vice be com­pelling enough to make you fi­nally cut the cord?

“When you go in your liv­ing room to watch the TV … it al­most feels like you're rewind­ing the clock and you've en­tered a time capsule and you're go­ing back­wards.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.