No, sports does not open the door for ‘Apple iTV’

Regarding Dana Blankenhorn’s ‘Sports Opens Door For Apple TV,'” Rocco Pendola writes for TheStreet, “If I read Dana right, he thinks Apple has the physical incarnation of Apple TV in the bag. I don’t agree. He believes the real focus as Tim Cook prepares to roll this thing out is on negotiations with content owners for the right to offer unbundled programming. Dana reckons Apple can convince cable companies and content owners to do what so many consumers dream of — unbundle their programming and offer it a la carte via Apple TV.”

“What’s the incentive for a massive old guard media company to pay billions for the rights to sports and then license those rights to Apple? We will not live in a world where you fire up iTunes on your Apple TV and order Knicks-Nets on MSG without having to purchase the entire NBA League Pass,” Pendola writes. “Think about it… a regional network such as Madison Square Garden can hold Time Warner Cable hostage, effectively saying if you want people in New York to ever see the Yankees, Rangers, Devils and Buffalo Sabres again you will take the Fuse network and like it.”

As for Apple offering à la carte channels, Pendola writes, “Rupert Murdoch. Jeff Bewkes. These guys are not that dumb. They’re certainly not going to fall hook, line and sinker for the ill of history repeating itself [see: Music business unbundled via iTunes Store]. And definitely not with Steve Jobs out of the picture.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, ’tis highly unlikely that Apple will be offering à la carte channels.

One correction: Apple saved the music industry. Music is purchased from iTunes Store as opposed to download for free from torrent sites.

Related article:
Sports opens the door for ‘Apple iTV’ – November 29, 2012


    1. Not quite. The record business is responsible for its own problems. Study after study has shown that file sharers tend to be the music industry’s best customers. MP3 technology allowed customers to do more with music and, through wider exposure, promote the artists to new customers.

  1. I agree with the article – it would be foolish to offer “on demand” sporting events. But cutting out the middle man – the CableCos – and selling me the whole season seems like it might provide more profit to the leagues.

  2. The only thing “foolish” is this notion that even though it is not what most consumers want, it has to continue the same way because the media companies say so.

    Sooner of later they have to satisfy the customers or they die. Whats better, lower profits or NO profits?

  3. I survive quite well with just an antenna and 30 HD channels. The big flaw in the cable/satellite model is that I don’t need their content to survive. At some point it becomes a bad bargain and I (and others) walk away.

  4. The difference with music was the piggisness of label execs was vulnerable to free file-sharing. They were forced to deal with Jobs because the digital floodgates obviated the format of forcing the user to buy an $18 CD containing one good song, two okay ones and the rest filler. Of course Jobs was right, I’ve spent a lot of money on iTunes but I now have a massive, well organized library of all sorts of music to choose from.

    TV execs are not hemorrhaging from file sharing as label execs were.

  5. content owners and traditional content distributors have way too much of a need for each other for anything to ever break it – this is why netflix is going to die…

    the only way around is if someone with a couple of hundred billion in the bank bought a major content property (ABC/ESPN/Disney etc…)

    Apple just do it – 1984 all over again

  6. Right you are MDN. And those in the industry understand that explicitly. The rest of the world, not so much. They are more interested in downloading music for free. Because it does not affect their industry. Or income.

  7. This article lays it out true – the content companies are never going to play ball with Apple in the ways Apple would like and/or need for AppleTV to really rock the world. Involving the media companies in setting this all up from the get-go means nothing more or less than accepting extortion in pricing and limited options for what can be done in your own home with content.

    The former is obviously important, but the latter is the bigger issue, as these companies want to erase Fair Use rights for content already purchased entirely. They essentially want us all to be perpetual ‘renters’, having to pay (again & again) for every new way devised for watching content.

    This is not in Apple’s interests, and trying to play this game was Steve Jobs’ biggest blunder. Apparently Tim Cook is repeating it. Nevertheless, if Apple wants devices that play video content to do for them what their devices for audio did years before (i.e. supercharge the company), they need to analyze what made the audio device the success that it was, and duplicate what they can from that experience.

    1] The iPod did not make us perpetual renters of content, nor ‘zero-out’ the collections we already had. You bought or already owned a CD, you ripped said CD into iTunes, you took that legally owned music with you wherever you wanted to go. The record companies allowed Apple access to their libraries without realizing what that would ultimately lead to (their marginalization), but had those early deals not happened, the iPod/iTunes system would have still been a success, and probably would’ve eventually forced the record companies into the same types of deals we see today anyway. After all, the forces the technology was unleashing would have been the same, events would have threatened to pass them by, and the smarter ones likely would have made whatever changes they needed to in order to keep from losing revenue & relevance. The dumber ones would have followed suit eventually.

    2] This same scenario is true for the movie studios, the difference here is that they know what the record companies did not. So they are trying everything possible to subvert what the technology can do to them before it ever gets into our hands. Their best shot at doing that is now – early – while they still have leverage. And the longer they can keep the technology at bay, the better it will be for their antiquated, extortionist practices (at least in the time frame of the current leadership’s careers, which is all they really care about).

    3] Apple is a technology company. It’s interests are diametrically opposed to those of the studios. It’s profits are constrained when they try to think like them, and accommodate their baser instincts. The studios fear technology and thus they fear and loath Apple. They would never say it that way, but it is true. Apple needs to stop trying to stroke the dog which will only bite it whenever it can.

    4] Once Apple stops trying to play their game, they can get on with the business of recreating as much as possible the best attributes or the iPod/iTunes system for the AppleTV. Allow people to rip their DVDs & BluRays and store them locally. Allow these files to be transferred or streamed to whatever Apple branded device they own, wherever they are. Allow the main hub – the AppleTV – to record content people have already paid for from the cable companies, or from OTA broadcasts (paid for by watching commercials), or better yet both, so that the same local storage and playback options are available with those files too. DRM the stuff. Make reasonable attempts to make sure people aren’t reselling or freely distributing the files, just as was done with audio, but otherwise allow the technology to flourish and the consumer to benefit from that flourishing. Whatever else Apple can make AppleTV do is fine (gesture controls, gaming, what have you), but it is all sauce when compared to the real goose – allowing legally owned content to be legally used by people in the ways described above. Just as it was done with the iPod.

    5] Watch the money and the accolades for Tim roll in.

    I have been saying this same stuff for as long as Apple has let it known that it wanted to play in the video world. I predicted 6 years ago that, for as long as Apple insisted on ignoring what made the iPod great, and continuing to try to dance to the studios’ tune, we would be still talking about this stuff in terms of ‘Apple is JUST about ready to change the world, but the content holders have yet another excuse as to why they won’t let them’. Sad to say, I’ve been proven correct.

    Apple needs to put a stop to this and recognize what side of the field it’s team is really on. When that happens, the company and all of us potential renters will be much better off.

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