Those month-old rumors about Apple launching a subscription movie service suddenly become that much more real today. The WSJ reports that Apple plans to launch a limited streaming service this fall:
The technology giant is in talks with programmers to offer a slimmed-down bundle of TV networks this fall, according to people familiar with the matter. The service would have about 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.
For now, the talks don’t involve NBCUniversal, owner of the NBC broadcast network and cable channels like USA and Bravo, because of a falling-out between Apple and NBCUniversal parent company Comcast Corp., the people familiar with the matter said.
I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds a lot like a basic cable service, only streamed over the web.
This deal is most notably lacking NBC Universal, perhaps because of bad blood with NBC’s owner, Comcast. There are reports that Apple and Comcast were in talks last year to combine Comcast’s strength in broadband delivery with Apple’s online expertise. That reportedly fell through after Comcast strung Apple along, but what with the games Comcast is playing with other services (HBO Go, for example) it’s really not clear what went wrong in the Apple-Comcast deal.
Apple’s service is expected to be announced in June and launch in September, and will likely be limited to Apple hardware (iDevices, Apple TV, etc). The rumored price is $30 to $40 a month, which strikes me as awfully high. You can get basic cable for less than that as part of a bundle.
Given that I have long since stopped watching live TV (whether broadcast or cable), I frankly don’t see the appeal. Why pay $30, just to be subjected to adverts? There isn’t enough worth watching to justify the price.
And what with live TV watching down 12.7% last year as viewers switched to streaming single episodes, I don’t think there is a viable long term market. But Apple is less interested in content sales than in how those sales support its hardware sales, so I don’t think a declining market would bother them.