Apple’s Internet TV and the changing – and unchanging – structure of TV

“The on-again/off-again rumor mill about Apple’s TV efforts is spinning again,” Ben Thompson writes for Stratechery, “thanks to a new report in the Wall Street Journal that Apple Plans Web TV Service in Fall:”

The technology giant is in talks with programmers to offer a slimmed-down bundle of TV networks this fall, according to people familiar with the matter. The service would have about 25 channels, anchored by broadcasters such as ABC, CBS and Fox and would be available on Apple devices such as the Apple TV, they said. For now, the talks don’t involve NBCUniversal, owner of the NBC broadcast network and cable channels like USA and Bravo, because of a falling-out between Apple and NBCUniversal parent company Comcast Corp., the people familiar with the matter said.

“I wrote extensively about the TV industry in a series of articles back in 2013,” Thompson writes, “but the most pertinent part to this discussion was my conclusion in The Cord-Cutting Fantasy:”

Cable TV is socialism that works; subscribers pay equally for everything, and watch only what they want, to the benefit of everyone. Any ‘grand vision’ Apple, or any other tech company, has for television is likely to sustain the current model, not disrupt it directly.

“That certainly seemed to be the plan for Apple; from what I understand, the Wall Street Journal’s characterization of Apple’s talks with Comcast is correct: Apple originally sought to work with Comcast much as they have worked with telecoms around the world – Apple would provide the user interface (the cable box) and Comcast the infrastructure and live content,” Thompson writes. “However, I can’t say I’m surprised those talks fell apart; to understand why a disagreement was probably inevitable, as well as why Apple’s Plan B looks the way it does,1 it’s useful to step back and consider the overall structure of the TV industry and how and why that structure is evolving with the advent of the Internet and mobile devices.”

There is much, much more in the full article – very highly recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s tough to imagine that Apple ever really believed that the likes of Comcast would let them own the user interface. What could Apple really offer the cable/satellite providers in return for such a major concession? It’s no surprise that Apple has g=finally moved on to “Plan B,” which actually can work and it will allow Apple to do what they always do: Collect the world’s most-coveted consumers and leave the dreck for the also-rans.

Do not underestimate the potential impact for Apple’s iAd. Advertisers want quality demographics and Apple will have the highest quality demographics available. Apple’s iAd could go from a relative afterthought to a major revenue generator.

Related articles:
All-new Apple TV set to bow in June: App Store-capable, A8-powered, Siri-enabled – March 20, 2015
Apple’s Internet TV opportunity: Nearly half want to cut the cable cord – March 20, 2015
Apple Internet TV service could generate $30 billion per year – March 18, 2015
U.S. DOJ could force Comcast to offer NBCUniversal content for Apple’s Internet TV service – March 18, 2015
Apple looks to blow up the cable TV model – March 18, 2015


  1. “Web TV” <-*cringe*
    That phrase has been adulterated for all time.

    The technology giant is in talks with programmers to offer a slimmed-down bundle of TV networks

    NO bundle for ME, thank you! A la carte or don’t bother.

    Cable TV is socialism that works…

    NO. Cable TV is MONOPOLISM that works… for the parasitic corporations. I’m no fan of socialism, but his pulling that term out of his backside and abusing it in public is disgusting. Bad show, Ben Thompson who writes for Stratechery.

    *changing the channel*

  2. HBO Now, offers all its shows for 15 bucks a month.
    You might compare an entire season on DVD or from iTunes as another option. Nevertheless, for 15 bucks, if you love to watch 3 or 4 shows from HBO its a real temptation.

    At present, a Network produces a number of TV shows.
    Who pay the talent that truly create the show; the writers, actors and crew – by selling the show to a Broadcaster.

    The Broadcaster, owns the channel to air the shows it likes. And while the show is aired, the Broadcaster sells tiny air slots to collect revenue for the show, called commercials. The commercial space sold is similar to Newspapers and how advertisements are placed. In turn, this is how the Broadcaster pays the Network.

    Cable companies, package these channels from the different Broadcasters in categories, based on popularity and reviews. Certain Networks have made their mark into premium categories above the Broadcasters. Specialty language channels top off the selection in this pyramid of choices. Meaning in order to get the Disney channel, a person must purchase into the basic category first. Then bundle it with the next tier so that I can achieve what they really desire. Hence, paying for a lot of what they may not have time for nor wish to see.

    This shall all soon change. The cutting of cable will be seen exactly as it means. And that is granting power to the Networks, who are the creative house. Cutting out all middle-men, more so the Cable guys. Hence, Apple TV shall act as a store for the Networks by direct subscription from the Network to the viewers. By passing most Broadcasters and more so the Cable guys.

    The Networks will sell directly to the clientele; the viewer.
    No more channels. No more commercials.

    However, will a monthly subscription to an entire line of shows from one Network satisfy folks? To see all the shows you love, we will need to subscribe monthly to a few Networks.

    Or do people prefer specific shows?
    I do not think viewers are loyal to a Network or a Channel but to the show.

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