Apple’s ‘skinny’ Internet TV bundle could accelerate cord cutting

“The big TV premiere this fall could be the unbundling of TV,” Yvonne Villarreal and Meg James report for The Los Angeles Times. “Apple Inc. is in discussions with major TV programmers, including Fox, CBS and ABC, to create a ‘skinny’ TV service for its Apple TV product and other Apple devices, according to people close to the companies who asked not to be identified.”

“Apple is preparing to announce its new slenderized bundle of TV networks in June and have it ready to launch in September to coincide with the start of the fall TV season,” Villarreal and James report. “The Apple TV package would consist of about 25 channels, cutting out those outskirt networks that traditionally bulk up cable TV bundles. Apple is most interested in doing a deal with the broadcast networks, such as Fox and ABC, and is interested in including sister cable channels such as FX and ESPN in its offering.”

“The service could offer frustrated pay TV customers a lower-cost option,” Villarreal and James report. “Apple last week announced that it has a deal to be the exclusive digital device partner for HBO’s stand-alone digital service, HBO Now, that will launch in April. The service will cost consumers $14.99 a month. Last week, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook hinted that Apple would become a bigger player in TV.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Well, not totally unbundled, but it’s likely as close to à la carte as we’re likely to get for some time.

The bundling of “networks” (channels) supports the operation of some that couldn’t cut it on their own, so it has some positives and some negatives. Pure free market proponents would say that we should just let the market decide, but that would likely result in dramatically reduced choices (buh-bye Smithsonian Channel or [insert your fav(s) with low viewership here]).

As we wrote last May:

Of course, if pure à la carte existed, we’d end up with 17 channels, which is a whopping five (5) channels more than we had before cable television (2-13), so some sort of bundling probably has to exist for the foreseeable future regardless of what Apple manages to do.

Related articles:
Apple’s upcoming Internet TV service: 8 key questions – March 17, 2015
Will upcoming Apple Internet TV service be cord cutting’s tipping point? – March 17, 2015
NBC plans Apple TV app that requires cable subscription later this year – March 17, 2015
Apple Internet TV service would awaken a sleeping Apple TV giant – March 17, 2015
The future of Apple TV – March 17, 2015
Apple in talks to unveil 25-channel online TV service in June, launch in fall – March 16, 2015
Americans only watch 17 of the hundreds of channels available on cable – May 6, 2014


    1. I think you got the wrong idea here.

      Rogers and Bell here in Canada, are very wise to offer interest services. Bell a communications company, one seen only as the phone, long ago reach out to satellite services then to harnessed television and telephone communications. Naturally lead to internet supplier.

      And Rogers somewhat the reverse way, a cable company providing television broadcasting channels to homes, later broadened there offer with telephone and internet services.

      It natural convergence for these companies to offer TV, PHONE and INTERNET.

      Thats is not the Bundle issue most are talking about.
      We have been talking about the channels we are force feed.
      One one can possibly even watch 100 shows at the same time. Even if they had 100 tvs in the house they would be required to also have that many decoders.

      Cable companies bundling Sports and Speciality channels, with a years promo to the basic package is the trouble.

      And only if you have selected certain premium channels can you then reach to have the one you really want.

      Funny these cable companies are able to track your calling habits – who you called – how long you made the call – and where the call went to. Its detailed on your phone bill. And typically charged by the second.

      So why can TV not be the same.
      Bill me for how long I watched the channel.
      Bill me for where i watched it from.
      Stop charges when I stop watching.

      So ken1w – the INTERNET and IP addresses are important here for cable companies to figure out better billing methods, as was satellite communications did for the cellphone.

      ONCE this happens bundled promotions is of a different nature – similar to what you speak of. I imagine a world of only interent connectivity. Cable and Phone gone. Cad 5 is it.

      1. It’s fine for Comcast or other providers to offer TV, phone, and Internet. As it plainly states on my cable bill, there is a single line item for “XFINITY Bundled Services.” If I can “unbundle” that so that the costs for each part of the bundle (together) equals the total cost, then I am more likely to keep only the Internet portion, and cancel phone and TV. THEN, I could more affordably subscribe to “a la carte” services (or a “skinny bundle”) that provide TV content over the Internet.

        Therefore, the bigger obstacle here is NOT the bundling of TV content. It’s the bundling of cable TV service with Internet service.

        1. I understand your situation. And you make an excellent point.
          You are absolutely correct… there is this issue definitely.
          Yet, as I stated is a different story – of a different nature and not what the article is speaking about. Not that I wish to kill your opinion.

          Can I ask you this, is there any other internet providers available in your area, so you can order only an internet connection?

          Where I live, I can get Rogers or Bell who offer everything. Or I can chose to go with several other providers like Yak, Primus, Acanac, Teksavvy, Start or Distributel.

          Rogers and Bell own the telecommunications infrastructure here. These alternative ISP are all third-party carriers who purchase at wholesale rates. basically, the big guys are going to get your money one way or another.

        2. Its my understanding, bundled services are an option to the customer.

          If you can not buy the different services separately find another company to deal with.

          If all you need is Internet, find a ISP and dump XFINITY.

    2. I only have FIOS Internet at 15/15 and pay $75. It’s crazy to have to pay that much! If I was a new customer and go local channels and 25/25 I could get it for $50 for two years with $300 back. Then who knows what it goes up too! 15/15 I think should be around $30 a month and its not even considered high speed broadband now!

    3. Oh come on folks,
      every customer has the “option” not to “buy into the type of bundle” that give you Telephone, Cable TV and Internet. Those companies offer separate items also.

      If your area only has one choice – one company – one package this is rather troubling. It is not the case everywhere. That would be stupid business. That means the term BUNDLED would be pointless, as they don’t offer anything but the three services together.

      Asking your service provider to cancel portions of the package you bought into could incur cancellation fees, however I can not see this being totally impossible. Ken1w has an issue. His provider delivers TV over the INTERNET line. Ok. But is this the situation everyone is in? NO I do not believe so. The article and Apple are focused on how channels are bundled. How content is purchased to watch. Why can I not simply get the ONE channel I wish rather than buying into so many other channels a person will never watch, doesn’t want, hasn’t the time to see. That is the topic. Ken1w is entitled to his opinion. And I agree with him. However it is not the case everyone is in. I feel its a minority of those out there. Am I wrong?

      Please inform me. Ken1w, are you buying cellular service from the same company too?

      Can you purchase just the cellular service alone, and get a separate bill of course – as you wish cable from internet?

      Okay then, then you can look into tethering. An option you will most likely say is and will be too expensive. But there, an option has been offered.

      This is not the bundling the article is speaking about.
      And I can not believe the position, ken1w mentions, is the situation most people are in.

      1. ken1w – move!


        Upload and download without limits, without a care in the world.

        You have unlimited Internet right from your condo in Toronto. Which means endless access to the people, information and entertainment you want in your life. Without worrying about racking up costs. Upload and download speeds are the same, giving you the same high-speed experience either way.

  1. One thing many do not consider:
    Comcast- the largest ISP in the USA- currently does not count HBO Go and xFinity On Demand streaming against data caps, but probably will on 3rd Party services like Apple’s.

    That 300GB data cap will easily be topped resulting in additional blocks of data sold at $10 for 50GB.

  2. Someday there won’t be “channels” anymore. If you live entirely in Netflix, Hulu Plus and iTunes today, the concept of “channels” are already meaningless.

    1. Yeah. For the past three years, I’ve only been watching Netflix, iTunes and DVDs I’ve converted to MP4 files. I haven’t felt the need for regular T.V. in years. Besides, T.V. has been around since the 50’s and yet cable companies didn’t exist until the 80’s, though my numbers might be a bit off. The only thing I’d want to watch besides those three things is baseball. I just can’t imagine spending $100 a year for baseball; at least not yet.

    1. You can get them OTA now. If a significant number of people start watching the network’s programming online without the signal being routed through a local affiliate station, most affiliates will be unable to make enough money to stay on the air. Then this will become highly relevant, because there will no longer be any free television.

      1. There is no such thing as free television. Everyone pays for television in the form of higher prices for the products and services that are advertised on television. When a company spends millions on an ad campaign, they don’t just lose that money, they pass the cost for the ad campaign onto everyone who buys the product. It doesn’t matter whether you watch or even own a TV; you’re paying for it.

  3. What no one is mentioning is Apple’s secret sauce. When this baby finally gets announced later this year, I imagine the menu of 20-25 networks will only be half the story. The other half will be AppleTV’s revolutionary new interface that will let you manage your TV SHOWS in a single interface regardless of which underlying network provides that tv show. That will be the real killer app, eliminating the need for you to ever really interact with any “ABC App” directly.

    1. I think Apple already offers a wonderful secret sauce.
      iTunes and the season pass.

      People do dislike bundles
      People do dislike the amount of commercials
      People do dislike time slots

      People want on demand
      Simple solutions
      cost effective

      Netflix is a model to learn by.
      Apple rents and sells TV shows and Speciality channels already – and at fair pricing.

      Apple does not need to buy Netflix, they are happy to co-exisit.

      If you want your show, keep your show, watch it when ever you like, no commercials, no issues, and re-watch your show with friends another time… APPLE has the secret sauce already.

      1. Yes, its a wonderful solution for people who want to buy their shows (and I am one of them, I cut the cord over a year ago and get all my programs form iTunes season pass, over the air HDTV, Netflix, and bootleg HBO for a few more weeks). But for people who want a cheaper solution that doesn’t involve buying their individual shows, then what Apple is about to announce this summer may be a godsend.

        1. Cool, so Apple will offer me
          all the FOX shows, (which I don’t want every show)
          all NBC shows (which I am not interested any but the News)
          all ABC
          all HBO (the entire line of shows they produce – cool and not cool)

          Leader, do you really think people are loyal to the individual Networks.

          Its a start, yet it still has a bundle feeling.
          A reduction to a single Network, sure people will be happier.
          Not me, I don’t like everything FOX airs. Sorry. I don’t like the its News show or anchor people (example). So, now, I have to buy into a different monthly Network.

          Okay, now I am truly buying the channels I love. Individually.
          It is Cable Cutting. The Cable companies start to lose the power of what I buy. They lose the force feed bundle buying in order to receive that specialty channel. Hurray.

          But is that the secret sauce Apple has?
          Buying separate Networks is cool, I still must buy my internet connection. And what if I only want just that – an internet connection?

          I think Apple iTunes already broke up Networks by offering the Show its self. And that is fantastic. Way a head of this Apple TV cable cutting move. Its a start.

          Yet, direct Apps to the show you want would be better.
          Buying into a single show – a single episode APPLE has ALREADY DONE.

          HBO has already expressed you get there App free – and you pay into the entire choices that HBO line of shows it offers. For now Its exclusive to Apple for the time being. So there is the nasty part that de-bunks your secret sauce that Apple has… its not just Apple.

    2. No thank you id rather just use my XBMC/ KODI i get all my shows free. Who watches live tv anymore.

      I love it and i can’t see paying for tv. I tried the 7 day on SLING and its ok but its not worth $20 a month thats for sure.
      I see no need for the big 4 either streaming. I mean most people can put up a antenna and get 30 + channels locally.
      The issue with offering the big 4 is can you watch them on demand anytime? if not then no need in offering them

  4. When Apple has a plan that offers your CHOICE of say 15 to 25 channels PLUS has tier pricing for 26-50 and so on. The customer can pick tier 1 and then pick 15-20 out of say 75 tier 2 channels. You get say 5 tier 3 channels out of say 50-75 and then HBO for 15$ on top of the tier chosen. The price will be ultimately MUCH lower for most. Apple could have the “SAUCE MACHINE” to make it work technically. No channel no matter how obscure will lose customers. If you watch the PAINT channel, and want it, and it is offered in one of the “tiers,” then you will get it. They could drop the price 50% vs Cable/Satellite and make EVERY network a boat load of cash at the same time. People could pay for quality HI SPEED internet at a fair price and everyone including the consumer wins. This would not so much unbundle everything, but it would make the system SO MUCH simpler and affordable. Xfinity or whichever company provides the lines would also probably offer the end customer tiered bandwidth speeds. Customer decides how much they will be streaming and how fast they want it to be. Wait, that is already offered. Yes, thats the ticket. Tiers and Speed.

    1. Wow, is this your world?

      As a customer in Canada, I can chose who I wish to buy INTERNET from. I can buy my Cable TV from a completely different company. And I can buy my home landline from yet another company. Of course the, “One Simple Bill.” concept was good marketing. One simple plan – a complete entertainment Bundle – where the customer can cancel any portion it wishes or change the internet speeds and allowances for download / data cap. Getting your Phone, TV and Internet bundled or NOT. We have choices.

      Many people here, are discovering a internet only connection to the home is all they need. Typically Internet did not host tv channels. Netflix and Apple changed that. So there is a movement happening.

      That move can be seen two ways, families cut the bundled services, keeping the needed landline and grabbing a HD Antenna and forgetting the internet altogether.

      The other known move, Cable Cutting is to obtain direct connection to the internet only, using a isp phone or cellular only but killing cable tv. Then with the internet get selected content like Netflix and iTunes off the internet. So finally HBO has come to the Apple TV, a model that Netflix has already done. This is not a secret sauce or anything new, it is relevant though and a move that is to snowball. Breaking down the Bundled Channels from the Cable Guys… into Network choses.

      The real magic will come when Apple can offer single TV show as an App. BY PASSING all the Network forcing you to see all it offers and a monthly subscription of that Network. The HBO channel. The FOX channel. The NBC channel. PEOPLE do not wish to see all HBO has to offer. Subscribing to all they have is only ONE STEP forward.

      thx to read

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