Apple TV: Talks bog down with media companies, no new TV product this year, sources say

“Apple Inc engineers have been working since 2005 to reinvent TV viewing. Designing the gadget may prove easy compared with convincing media and cable companies to loosen their grip on the television industry,” Adam Satariano and Alex Sherman report for Bloomberg. “This battle is nothing like Apple’s previous forays into the music and mobile phone spheres, when the maker of iPods and iPhones negotiated with weakened record labels and a fractured wireless industry. Now the stakes are even higher and the competition tougher.”

“Apple is vying with the likes of Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Inc. to make TVs the digital hub of people’s lives in an industry projected to reach $200 billion worldwide by 2017,” Satariano and Sherman report. “Whoever wins must first strike deals with media companies or cable providers who have little incentive to cede valuable revenue streams. The result: Apple won’t be releasing a new TV product this year, as analysts had predicted, said a person familiar with the company’s plans.”

Satariano and Sherman report, “In recent negotiations, the main stumbling blocks with cable companies have included a tussle for control over the software that determines the screen interface — the look and feel of the viewer’s experience, said people familiar with the discussions… Apple and cable providers have also diverged on whether a new Apple TV set-top box should be sold directly to customers or leased through cable providers, said people familiar with the talks.”

“Since the middle of the last decade, Apple’s engineers have been working on a more advanced product to allow viewers to quickly find shows and movies, blending both live and recorded material, the people said. It would recommend content based on interests and work seamlessly with Apple’s family of other devices. An iPhone or iPad would double as a remote control, the people said… Apple is furthest along negotiating with Time Warner Cable Inc., said the people familiar with the talks. Yet even if Time Warner Cable agrees to a deal with Apple, it wouldn’t represent a radical change for customers, who would still pay their monthly cable bill.”

Satariano and Sherman report, “Apple may be looking to Time Warner Cable to be its first partner in a similar way that AT&T Inc. helped bring the iPhone to market, one person said. This [regional rollout] would be a departure from Apple’s traditional strategy of releasing products nationally. Time Warner Cable, like all cable companies, only operates in certain regions. Los Angeles and New York City are its largest markets. Under this thinking, Apple would then expand the service if it proves successful, one person said.”

Tons more in the full article – recommended – here.


  1. Maybe here’s a hint towards a level playing field, if not a head slap for media conglomerates, for Mr. Cook:

    “Find torrents and download them directly to your smartphone. From µTorrent!

    “Welcome to the first official µTorrent App for Android (Beta).

    “Find torrents and download them directly to your smartphone or tablet – all with this handy torrent app from the team that invented the BitTorrent protocol over a decade ago. Subscribe to RSS feeds, play content and more. The first generation of this powerful new app is designed to be easy-to-use, super-fast, and make your Android device so much more fun.

    “µTorrent for Android (Beta) is currently free, and best of all, there’s no speed or size limits! To get the best performance and avoid running up your data charges, we recommend taking advantage of WiFi whenever possible.

    “Happy torrenting!”

    All Apple needs to do to send a “nudge” towards the content makers/gatekeepers, perhaps, is pick up a few companies like this by boatloads. If that hint isn’t enough, sell TV with a few of this preinstalled as beta.

    1. so what do you do if you’re not on unlimited data?

      i just got rid of cable TV and pay just for the cable internet. between amazon instant video and itunes there is more than enough to watch. and i get something like 100 channels free via the coax cable from my cable company. Free, like they are unencrypted. i was watching the Giants lose last night in HD with no cable TV bill

    2. Are you advocating that we steal the things we want? Do you have any idea of what that does to a society? If I want a car and am near your house, I guess I should just feel free to come over and take it, right?

      1. No, I’m not advocating that you should steal data. I’m suggesting that the media companies holding out against Apple’s (hopefully) fair and competitive offer(s), should grow some clues via moves like this.

        Let’s be more clear: this application and protocol exist on Google Marketplace/Play legally. I don’t think it exists yet on the iOS. Users of the Android platform now has the “option” to pick and choose more data options “legally”; while the media that keeps an ambivalent and blind eye towards Google (and Amazon on a slightly different issue), they would simply freak out if Apple ever bursts out/pulls something like this on the non-geek friendly iOS platform. So, level playing field doesn’t seem to exist; they’re being suspicious of Apple growing too big at their expense, so they’re playing favouritism. In other words, you – the iOS championing consumer with a conscientious mind, are being held hostage.

        You are being cheated of options by artificial barriers, while hordes are moving towards Android with more options; so, who’s stealing from whom?

        1. Torrents are really about taking illegal content and thievery. There are very very few people who share their own legally produced content if it has any real value.

          Just because people feel entitled to great content doesn’t mean they have the right to steal it. You have to pay the piper and if you don’t like what the piper charges, walk away and deprive him of your money. Don’t steal content just because you think you can make them lower their price.

  2. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Apple should create its own content or at least fund it. It has the cash. Look at the crap on TV. Honey Boo Boo anyone? The production costs like the popular shows on Cable would be pennies to a company with Apple’s cash hoard.

  3. This was always going to be a hard sell and getting big content providers like the cable companies to agree on a radical new setup will take a long time.
    They are making lots of money at the moment so why rock the boat. It also will affect the content producers on how they get revenue.
    I’m not quite ready to cut the cable TV cord yet. I really need to sit down and work out how much I watch and if the same content can be obtained via Hulu, Netflix, iTunes and network streaming services. Apple TV can handle the first three sources but the last one needs a Mac / iOS device to access web content.

  4. article misses the point, there is no ‘device’, thats looking at the situation through the current lens
    apple is not trying exclusively to get its content on an exisitng TV, instead content providers need to get their content on the new ‘TV’ ie ipad’s iphone and ipods
    when looking at the situation this way its clear that content has a new destination and its not the TV its apple devices
    this drives the need for the content to be managed by apples servers not a set top box this way a user can seamlessly go from device to device, for example start watching a show (live or recorded) in their lliving room and carry on watching it elsewhere ie on an ipad on a commute home etc
    a users seamless content managment can ONLY happen if apple manages the data on its servers, this isnt like songs which are static in nature, TV content is dynamic from show episodes to constant news programs

    bottom line is the venue for content has changed from the TV top apple devices

  5. From the article:
    ““If I’m a cable company, do I really want to let Apple into my house?” said Jason Hirschhorn, the former chief digital officer at MTV and co-president of MySpace.”

    The answer here has ALWAYS been “no”. Back when Jobs first overhauled the architecture of the Mac – from PPC to Intel – just to try to placate these clowns, anyone without stars in their eyes knew they were never going to play ball. Apple’s success in music made the video media companies too afraid of their own irrelevance & reduced bottom lines to ever do a legitimate deal with Apple.

    By “legitimate” I mean one where the consumer isn’t even more screwed by these conglomerates than they already are. Trust me; any plan that doesn’t include turning all people into perpetual renters of content – no ownership of any title ever again – AND involving multiple payments for watching the same video on multiple devices, is not a plan they will ever sign on too voluntarily. Evidence in this story is the utter lunacy of Apple actually allowing AppleTV to be RENTED MONTHLY instead of bought (rent the media AND the device that plays it too!). From that you can see the real goal here, and the immense hubris of these gatekeepers of content/parasites of creativity.

    Jobs wised up eventually (I think), but Cook seems less driven by conviction & more by convenience & quick profit, so I can’t say he won’t go along just to get this thing moving.

    One last quote:
    “Without gaining access to new rights, Apple would end up largely replicating TiVo’s business model and relying on customers to buy a device based on how it organizes content and combining it with streaming services like Netflix…”

    And here is the solution to this problem. Whether Apple buys TiVo & Netfix too, or simply replicates the former & does a deal with the latter, the only way to break the logjam is to show these companies how powerfully technology has passed them by. If the AppleTV were to do nothing more than take over-the-air signals & allow them to be played & recorded & streamed & replayed on all iDevices – something that is 100% legal as per cases going back to the battles SONY had with U.S. networks in the 70s & 80s – the shockwaves would be felt. You could get any show ABC/NBC/CBS/PBS made. You could get your locally produced shows (which would probably never make it into current negotiations). You could get re-runs of shows long gone (all local stations show those). And you could get most broadcasts of local sports teams.

    Couple all of the above with Netflix & Hulu & the iTunes store (i.e. only paying for the stuff you REALLY want) and it will be amazing how fast these companies fall into line.

    AppleTV with those capabilities & local storage vis plug in USB or Thunderbolt drives for expansion as needed (using iCloud would no doubt cross legal boundaries), would be the game changer everyone is hoping for. No negotiations necessary.

    Come on Cook. Grow a pair & get it done the right way.

  6. If it’s technology, the Luddite RIAA and MPAA are SCARED SHITLESS over it. They have proven themselves to be EXTREME olde world dictators of their industries who’d rather kill the customer than adapt to change.

    Considering the recent unconstitutional and rabidly self-destructive behavior of both the RIAA and MPAA, there is NO SIGN of either of these Corporate Oligarchy gang getting a clue. Stupidity and customer abuse rule the media industry.

    Supreme Court Declines To Review Outrageous $650,000 Fine Against Student Who Downloaded and Shared 30 Songs

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