Network insistence on channel bundles may have killed Apple TV subscription dreams
There’s a lot to hate about the way cable TV works right now, from how you’re still stuck watching commercials on channels you pay for (isn’t the point of paid services so you can avoid ads?) to a seeming inability to subscribe to channels à la carte; good luck getting any major cable service without ESPN, which contributes $6 to your monthly bill whether you watch it or not. For viewers hoping for something better, IP-based streaming services sounded like they might just have what it takes to turn the existing cable TV model on its head, but so far it’s been difficult for these players to get the rights to the content we crave. Now a new report claims that Apple’ efforts to give Apple TV users a streaming TV service have fallen apart over demands from media conglomerates that Apple force channel bundles upon users.
To hear the story, Apple wanted to offers users a basic package of maybe a dozen or so of the most popular channels, ready to stream on their Apple TV boxes for about $30 a month.
If users wanted extra channels, they would have been able to add those on as an elective package. So rather than every subscriber paying for something like those ESPN channels, they’d be limited to an add-on sports package – making pricing more fair for everyone in the process.
While Apple negotiated to bring users that sparse group of the most popular channels at an affordable rate, the media companies reportedly pushed back against the bundle-breaking. If Apple wanted to have basics like ABC, NBC, or Fox, it would also have to bring on a bunch less desirable channels, as well – exactly the situation Apple was hoping to avoid.
With neither side of the table willing to budge enough to accommodate the wishes of the other, Apple’s supposedly walked away from negotiations – at least for the time being.
Maybe if the new Apple TV really takes off, TV companies will see more value in Apple’s user base and return with a new willingness to agree to Apple’s terms. But for now, Apple’s streaming TV plans sound like they’re very much on hold.