Analyst: Apple looks to offer television subscribers customized channel lineups

“Apple’s anticipated full-fledged television set could offer Internet-based content subscriptions with customized channel lineups, if the company has its way,” Neil Hughes reports for AppleInsider.

“Customized programming is said to be one of Apple’s most desired features for its rumored television set, according to analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee. In Apple’s vision, customers would choose whichever channels or shows they want for a monthly subscription fee,” Hughes reports. “‘This is obviously much more complicated (than current offerings) from a licensing standpoint,’ Wu wrote in a note to investors on Wednesday. ‘And in our view, would change the game for television and give AAPL a big leg-up against the competition.'”

Hughes reports, “‘What’s missing is live broadcast television,’ [Wu wrote.] He said the obvious way Apple could allow this is to integrate with a cable or satellite subscription already offered to customers. But the more revolutionary way would be to deliver live content via the Internet or IPTV, a method that would be more in line with the company’s existing iTunes and iCloud services.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Dow C.” for the heads up.]

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Apple meets with media executives to discuss TV plans, say sources – December 19, 2011
With Siri TV, Apple will dismantle the TV networks – December 16, 2011
Strategy Analytics: With 32% share, Apple leading ‘Connected TV’ market with ‘hobby’ Apple TV – December 12, 2011

18 Comments

  1. Let the epic battle, and I mean epic, commence…….

    I have a regular antenna on my roof to pick up the standard networks, so just need to add ESPN, Big Ten Network, Fox Sports Midwest, and maybe Fx and Comedy Central, and I’m good to go. Bring it on Apple!

    1. You better add a VPN at the WAN level so that TWC (et al) can’t do deep packet analysis to learn how must data you are using is streaming. We can soon say “Hello” to higher Internet access fees, I fear.

  2. From a licensing perspective the big issue that no one has been able to yank from cable is sports.

    For customers to leave cable and embrace an a la carte approach there’d either need to be new ways for getting sports, or the cast of the Next Iron Chef will have to start working out and play football, basketball, etc.

    1. I have an antenna and I get around 30 HD digital channels with all of the broadcast networks, PBS, etc. Netflix delivers all my movies via my Wii. I do miss ESPN for the NFL, college bowl games, and NASCAR, but I’m willing to live without them rather than pay $60 to $100 a month just to get those items. I’d subscribe to ESPN for $5 per month or so.

      There’s a message in there for NASCAR, the college football system, MLB, MSL, and the NFL. You risk becoming irrelevant when you let the cable companies hold your product hostage and demand exorbitant fees. I used to be a NASCAR fan. I don’t know or care who won the championship this year. I’ve very nearly quit being interested. That should bother NASCAR and others a lot!

  3. If they can pull this off, it’ll be nothing short of a miracle and the death knell for cable as we now know it.

    I’d sign up IF HBO and Showtime were available and IF there is some kind of DVR attached… and if they can do it in a set top TV, they should be able to do it in a set top box for the TV that I already own…

  4. Squiggles is right that the big prize for a la carte programming is sports. I nearly cut paid tv this last year, but my desire to watch live sports kept me tethered.

    However, we are nearing the point where if you are a fan of a particular sport, you may no longer need pay tv. The MLB subscription (~$100/year) gives you all the games streamed live. The NBA does the same for about $170 – $200.

    1. The NFL is the real prize in the US market. Verizon & direct TV have this locked up. I would gladly pay for the package that allows Direct TV users to watch the games over the internet, but it is only available if you are a subscriber and pay them even more. It is greedy gouging at it’s best. I would pay $100 a season to have this product, but they are colluding to force me to buy things I do not want to get it.

      Imagine if you went to the store to buy pants and you were not allowed to purchase them unless you also bought ten pairs of shoes. Feels the same to me. Want a gallon of milk? Well you have to buy 6 dozen eggs too or you can’t have it..

  5. I’ve been waiting for this for years. I will now be able to watch Formula 1 without buying into all the other cable junk. Again, SJ will have revolutionized a goofy outdated scammed system.

  6. It doesn’t take that long to wean yourself from specific TV genres or shows, or even TV at all. I have visited places with no TV access for a week or two, and found that I did not really miss it. The point of this rambling is that TV is not a necessity, so consumers have the power to vote with their dollar for greater control over the form that TV takes. We do not have to kiss up to cable or satellite content distributors. They need us.

  7. It’s about much more than sports (just as reshaping the music industry was about more than The Beatles).

    All of those hundreds of middle tier channels (History, Lifetime, NatGeo, Comedy Central, etc.) exist because they get .10 cents per subscriber whether anyone watches them or not. The whole industry model has been based on the observation that everyone watches five channels, but everyone watches a different five. So by bundling lots of content you don’t like with the few that you do enjoy, all can survive. If everyone could pick their faves a la carte, none of these narrowcast channels could make enough to operate.

    So the epic challenge facing Apple is not so much a technical one, it’s how to unbundle channels from an industry that would see this as a major threat. So yes, Apple will need to built upon what it learned with TV program rentals to negotiate licensing deals for individual channels (or individual programs if necessary) so that each Apple TV subscriber can create their own custom bundle.

    With a good navigation interface (like Siri), over-the-air HDTV would just be another source — not a big deal to implement.

  8. Most people here seem to be interpreting customised channel lineups as simply a different mix of existing channels that you pay for monthly.

    What if Apple were to do it differently ? They might offer customisation at a lower level, so that instead of buying access to specific sports channels or comedy channels, users would pay for the precise content that they view and that may come from a number of sources.

    For instance, instead of subscribing to everything on a sports channel, you may prefer to solely see the motor sports offered by from more than one broadcaster, but not bother with the football. Alternatively you may elect to see documentaries about historical topics, irrespective of who produces them.

    My guess is that Apple will concentrate more on the specific content rather than the channel that currently offers it, just like they allowed customers to buy individual album tracks on iTunes, rather than the entire album.

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