CBS and Disney considering participating in Apple’s planned iTunes subscriptions service

“CBS Corp. and Walt Disney Co. are considering participating in Apple Inc.’s plan to offer television subscriptions over the Internet, according to people familiar with the matter, as Apple prepares a potential new competitor to cable and satellite TV,” Sam Schecher and Yukari Iwatani Kane report for The Wall Street Journal.

“The proposed service by the maker of iPhones and iPod music players could, in at least some scenarios, offer access to some TV shows from a selection of major U.S. television networks for a monthly fee, according to people familiar with the discussions. Apple is pushing to complete licensing deals and hopes to introduce the service in 2010, some of those people said,” Schecher and Kane report. “It is unclear whether any networks have signed on yet.”

“Apple is revamping iTunes as it finalizes its plans for a tablet device, which is meant to be a multimedia gadget, according to people briefed about the product. The multimedia tablet is expected to be larger than an iPhone but smaller than a laptop computer,” Schecher and Kane report. “People briefed by Apple say the company is aiming to launch it by the end of March.”

“In at least some versions of the proposal, Apple would pay media companies about $2 to $4 a month per subscriber for a broadcast network like CBS or ABC, and about $1 to $2 a month per subscriber for a basic-cable network, people familiar with the proposals said. Those amounts are in some cases much higher than media companies receive from traditional distributors,” Schecher and Kane report. “The question is whether selling fewer networks at higher prices is better business.”

“Apple’s TV proposal may be changing as the company woos networks, according to people familiar with the matter,” Schecher and Kane report. “An initial version of the proposal had envisioned selling access to advertising-free shows from a bundle of top cable and broadcast networks—the ‘best of television’—with a consumer price tag of $30 a month, according to people familiar with the talks.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Don’t fixate too much on the prices and proposal details being bandied about as both are in a great deal of flux from what we hear. The general ideas that Apple is working on a subscription concept for television shows and, of course, a “tablet,” including its general launch date target, do jibe with what we’ve been hearing from various sources.

24 Comments

  1. And there will be a sort of planned, mutual holiday extravaganza merging CBS, Disney, Pixar and possibly ESPN talent to WOW you with . . .oh, who knows, who really cares . . .

  2. There is a bigger picture developing behind the scenes, I think.

    This isn’t just about TV subscriptions. This is about selling Apple TV. A whole lot of Apple TV.

    Apple is about to do for television what they did for music.

    This will be very consumer-friendly, as the objective will not be to make money off individual subscriptions, but to sell hardware.

    Expect a subscription to be priced fairly low.

    Apple’s going to need a bigger bathtub. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  3. A la carte would definitely be a game changer… good for consumers, not sure about broadcasters. I’d slim down my line-up considerably. My entire family could have more than enough crap TV with 10 or less channels… the 4 main broadcast channels and a few kid networks would be more than enough. Time-shifting/selection would be a requirement. (If it was just me, I’d drop sattelite and go just Netflix.)

    I imagine the industry is trying to avoid getting caught flat-footed like music industry did. They just haven’t figured out how to ride the wave vs. getting swept in the tide.

  4. @ROFLCOPTER: Music and TV are two different animals; while people can and do listen to the same music over and over (whether we’re talking a Beethoven symphony or the Beatles’ cover of “Roll Over Beethoven”), most people aren’t really interested in owning TV series unless it’s something destined to be a classic, say a “Sopranos” or some of the science/nature stuff from PBS, or something related to interests like WWII buffs grabbing all the shows from History Channel. Doesn’t mean folks don’t want to watch run of the mill shows like “How I Met Your Mother”, just that you’re not interested in keeping the permanently. The DVR and services like On Demand cable have already made the idea of “appointment TV” obsolete; subscription TV, where the latest episode of your favorite shows automatically downloads to your set-top box, sans commercials, could be the final nail in that coffin.

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