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Apple Eyeing Subscription TV Service?

17 Mar, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Move would follow Dish Network’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue

The multichannel video program distribution ecosystem could soon get a major challenge. Apple reportedly is readying the fall launch of an online TV service with 25 channels, including Discovery, Viacom, ESPN and FX.

Apple, which just partnered with HBO to exclusively launch (for 90 days) the premium channel’s pending HBO Now subscription streaming service, would be the latest technology/media company looking to go consumer-direct and bypass bundled cable/satellite/telecom pay-TV.

Sony Computer Entertainment March 25 will bow PlayStation Vue in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago for an undisclosed price. Dish Network in February launched Sling TV with select third-party networks, including ESPN, Disney Channel, AMC, CNN and Epix, among others.

That Apple’s OTT service will also have ESPN underscores Disney’s close relationship with the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant. Indeed, Disney Movies Anywhere, Disney’s digital movie sales platform, is aligned with iTunes, including its cloud-based storage functionality.

The Wall Street Journal reports Apple is in discussion with broadcasters such as ABC and CBS — the latter last year bowing CBS All Access, a $5.99 monthly subscription streaming service. It also launched CBSN, an ad-supported online news service. The Apple TV channel service reportedly would cost $40 a month — twice the price of Sling TV.

It won’t have content from NBC Universal following a reported fallout between Apple and Comcast — the latter owning NBC. As the nation’s largest pay-TV operator, Comcast has the most to lose should OTT video take off. It is also co-owner of Hulu Plus, a SVOD competitor to Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and HBO Now.

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