The New York Post reports that Apple is pushing to launch a streaming TV service by Christmas 2012 despite making little headway in negotiations with content providers. Sources told the paper that Apple is taking an unusual approach summarized as "we decide the price, we decide what content," essentially wanting "everything for nothing."
Apple’s point man, Eddie Cue, has been at it for months trying to nail down deals with content providers. These providers have "largely balked" at Apple's efforts to exert control over all aspects of the proposed video service, including prices. What Apple is reportedly aiming for is offering channels as apps which could be installed in devices like the Apple TV set-top box and the rumored iTV. What's unknown at this point is whether Apple plans to sell them as a bundle, or offer each channel individually.
The proposed streaming TV service will reportedly compliment what Apple already offers on iTunes which includes movies and TV episodes that consumers can rent or purchase. But the TV service could contradict some apps that already exist on the App Store provided by CBS, ABC and others which stream new and old content to iOS devices. Let’s also not forget Hulu Plus which does a very good job offering TV shows just after they've aired on their parent networks.
That said, there's good reason why some networks are hesitant about investing in an Apple-based streaming TV service given their commitment to other platforms. There's also fear that Apple may dominate this particular region of the entertainment industry. For example, the company tried to get cable operators to dump their current set-top boxes and DVRs for its own Apple-branded devices designed to offer an improved look and accessibility of video services.
"They wanted to create the interface, and they wanted to work with the cable guys to manage bandwidth across the TV and broadband pipeline," said one source familiar with the talks. But executives decided against the offering, choosing to keep Apple at a safe distance instead. Cable companies are also launching their own streaming TV services including Comcast, Time Warner and others.
Currently Apple is reportedly pursuing deals with telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon with hopes of landing at least one deal so that perhaps other will follow. But given that Verizon just announced a deal with Redbox to launch its own Netflix killer in the near future, it's highly doubtful the Big Red will sign on.
Along with the iPad 3, Apple is expected to unveil a new and improved Apple TV set-top box next week. It's possible we'll also see the actual iTV as well (as the invitation reads we have something you really have to see and touch), but that's highly unlikely. Apple is reportedly working on launching the streaming TV service first, and will then focus on the actual hardware.