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Apple Reportedly Eyeing Premium TV Channel Trio

3 Apr, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

In an increasingly crowded online TV market, Apple has notably struggled to join the bandwagon with its own over-the-top service.

While Apple pioneered transactional music through iTunes, and later branched into TV shows and movies, efforts to license carriage agreements with TV networks has thus far not materialized — reportedly due to rights fees and related technology issues.

Despite revolutionizing music and digital media consumption, Apple avoids buying a studio and/or major content holder — despite sitting on $200 billion in free cash and no debt.

Now the consumer tech giant reportedly wants to market HBO, Showtime and Starz in a combined premium TV bundle. Apple TV currently offers HBO Now, Showtime OTT and Starz for $14.99, $10.99 and $8.99, respectively, the same price points available from third-party online vendors.

Two years ago, Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet software and services at Apple, told the Re/code confab in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., that solving the online TV puzzle was difficult. Fast-forward to the present and Cue’s attitude hasn’t changed.

“We’ve been working with television for a long time and we’ll continue to work with television partners for a long time, whether it’s Netflix or DirecTV or ABC,” he told Re/code’s tech confab in Dana Point, Calif.

Indeed, Cue touted Apple’s original programming forays destined for the Apple Music subscription streaming service.

It seems doubtful competing premium networks HBO (owned by Time Warner), Showtime (CBS) and Starz (Lionsgate) would give Apple price breaks that would undercut linear TV distributors and online TV platforms such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, Charter Spectrum TV Plus and DirecTV Now.

In December, CBS CEO Les Moonves dismissed DirecTV Now’s $35 monthly fee. He said DirecTV Now would not get access to Showtime for the same $5-per-subscriber HBO is getting.

“We’re not unfair. We just want to get paid for what we have,” Moonves told the UBS 44th Annual Global Media & Communications confab in New York,


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