Apple TV ‘skinny’ package likely to accelerate cord cutting

“Apple’s ambition to be a dominant player in television is expected to accelerate the unraveling of the pay-TV bundle,” Meg James and Paresh Dave report for The Los Angeles Times. “The tech giant is in negotiations with major television companies to offer a ‘skinny’ package of channels that would include ABC, CBS and Fox Broadcasting, according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly. Apple wants to roll out the service in time for the new fall shows in September.”

“‘Apple remains one of the few companies in the world that has the potential to transform the TV industry, and we believe consumers are ready for a change,’ Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White wrote recently in a research report,” James and Dave report. “Apple this month unveiled its deal to offer HBO Now, a $14.99-a-month Internet streaming service on Apple devices beginning next month. Its planned Web TV subscription service would cost customers about $30 a month, the people said.”

“Experts think that Apple’s advantage comes from its strong track record of developing products that have clean and user-friendly designs,” James and Dave report. “‘They do have this very loyal fan base and a great usability that’s not possible in the more fractured environments of other devices,’ said Field Garthwaite, chief executive of Iris.TV, a Los Angeles startup that builds video recommendation technology.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re so ready for the right mix of programming and price! (Easier said than done, we know.)

Related articles:
Analyst: Apple would burst into $35 billion home gaming market with new Apple TV App Store – March 23, 2015
All-new Apple TV set to bow in June: App Store-capable, A8-powered, Siri-enabled – March 20, 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


    1. I agree, to an extent. But an increase in choice represents progress. First you make a crack in the wall, then you burst through it.

      Small steps eventually add up to meaningful progress far more often that great leaps.

    2. Why does anyone care about ‘channels’? Everybody watches the programs and likely couldn’t care less about the ‘channel’ it is on. People would like to cut the link to time based programming and would rather have the show they want to watch when they want to watch it and be able to pause or replay any segments they want. The PVR is a home based machine to try to accomplish that but it can be done so easily by the provider (think Netflix). We just want more current programming AS IT BECOMES AVAILABLE. It could be available on Sunday 2:35 AM but normally on a ‘channel’ is withheld until Tuesday at 7:30 by the network. We could watch it anytime after it is released and don’t have to be held hostage to their timetable.

      News happens all day long, every day and is produced throughout the day. Why do we have to wait until 6 o’clock to watch the news? Couldn’t we set a preference to watch it as it happens or wait until they aggregate it and watch it when it is convenient for us?

      1. Yes you can… It’s called “On Demand,” and it’s not that compelling as “something new.” With my current “typical” cable service, I can watch most TV programming on the main “broadcast” networks, basic cable networks, and premium cable networks (the ones I pay extra for) when I want, through the cable box. I can also go to their web site on my Mac (or use their app on my iPad), to watch TV programs On Demand. DVR is still needed for “special events,” live sports, and other programs that are not available On Demand, and for keeping programs longer than a few weeks after the “broadcast” date.

        And I agree that it’s not really about “channels.” For example, I don’t watch “Disney XD” very much, except Star Wars Rebels. So, I think a certain amount of “bundling” is desirable for a TV service. Otherwise, I’ll be constantly annoyed when I can’t watch X program because I don’t get Z channel.

        I just bought an Apple TV. FYI, you can get the current one on Apple Store’s “special deals” page for $59 (when available). This little thing is already better than I expected, without any new “TV skinny package” deal. It’s like “on demand” on my cable service, but with an elegant (not archaic 1990’s) interface that is enjoyable to use (not barely adequate). There are a lot of “channels” now on Apple TV. I subscribe to Hulu Plus (through my Mac), and that’s available on my HDTV screen now. I can log in to my YouTube account and watch those videos as “TV media.” And almost anything that’s in my Mac’s iTunes library (music and video content) is available. It’s not a replacement for bundled TV programming from my cable service, but I’m having a lot of fun with it as “Input B” on my HDTV.

        One great thing is the direct link to my Apple ID. I buy iTunes Store electronic “gift cards” at a discount, for myself. Paypal sells them on eBay, and a few times a year (especially during holiday shopping time), I can get a $100 gift card for $75. Therefore, I can rent a movie using my Apple TV and use my iTunes Store credit to get “25% off” compared to renting the same movie through my cable service.

      2. Channels are still useful in determining your interest in a show. If someone tells you there’s a new drama about immigration, wouldn’t your interest change based the attached channel (AMC, MTV, or Syfy)?

      3. And the problem with what you want vs. the networks providing content now is this:

        1. Networks buy content from creative development companies for the most part. Even hit shows on major networks are developed and sold to these networks.

        2. Networks have to make money to pay the content developers for these shows. Thus advertising, and consequently the rash of cheap, easy to produce “reality” shows.

        3. You don’t want advertising in your On Demand content. Here we have a problem, because it is advertising which pays for the creation of the content. Your small monthly fee is nowhere near enough to compensate for the loss of advertising revenue.

        4. Thus, networks are OK with you DVRing a show to watch later, although they don’t like that you can zip through commercials. You still tend to see commercials, and many people don’t pay attention to fast forward. Or you watch it live, and see the commercials.

        Until someone, whether Apple or anyone else, finds a way to replace or eclipse advertising revenue for networks, this model isn’t going to change drastically.

        1. I actually want advertising with my content BUT I want very well targeted ads about things I want or are interested in ONLY. Streaming content can be paid by subscription, combination of subscription and ads or just ads alone. If advertisers knew that nearly every ad they placed would likely result in a purchase of their product, how much do you think that they would pay for such ads? Targeting ads based on my preferences for products or services could be the basis for how much I pay: the fewer interests I have, the more I pay. If I want completely free programs, I could give a very long comprehensive list of the ads I would also like to see.

  1. Well, I’m all for the ‘streaming revolution’ to take hold and shift video providers to being more about the bandwidth (including my employer).

    Dish and DirecTV will hang on a few years longer due to rural demand, but they will be forced to merge and this time it will have to be allowed, and even then the fiber outlays and wireless advances will give smaller towns a much needed boost in bandwidth access which will eventually be the death knell for Big Satellite.

    Now, oddly, I just signed up for cable video for the first time in two years. It seems Comcast is determined to keep video going until they can change business models by slowly adapting to this ‘big changeover’, and they did this by offering me the HD basic 140 channels for $28 a month more than my current package.

    I watch very little TV, mostly Netflix, iTunes and Prime, but the few channels I wanted were included and was not any more expensive than any of the streaming services I was shopping. I know they will eventually expand, and cable/FIOS will slowly transition video to a loss-leader (as phone mostly is) until the bandwidth buildout is complete and the service department has been moved over to more IP maintenance.

    There is concern for how this can be accomplished as a win-win-win between business, customers and regulators and I think I have the answer, but it is going to take both parties and both Houses to see the big picture and do it.

    1. i got turned off by comcast when they charge extra for the HD versions of channels. you buy an expensive package, but that doesn’t come with HD. you only get SD versions of the channels even though those channels are broadcasting in HD. You then have to pay an extra fee just to access the HD channels, which is bullshit. Then if you want to watch any of those channels on a 2nd or 3rd tv there are extra charges for each additional HD box you want. I said F OFF and have been happy with no bill while using an antenna

      1. Which is what I did the past two years (antennae).

        And yes, the additional charge is BS, AKA ‘revenue enhancer’, which is part of the model they will have to dismantle (I was only charged for the box, not the other monthly fee).

        They will eventually have to move to a single box to keep the warehouse and truck inventories simpler (same with modems).

  2. I still have to deal with those jerks at Time Warner Cable no matter what. They recently jacked my cable/internet up over $30 at one pop. My wife raised hell and got them to drop it almost $50, and they threw in the Starz channels for free, all on a one year “promotional” package.

    We thought that was great until last night while renting a movie on our AppleTV the damn thing wouldn’t load and I had to start it over three times. Got an email from them today stating I was over my 5GB data limit. WTF, we never had a limit! After reading the small print I found out they had pulled the old switch-a-roo on us, plus they had charged us for the “free” Starz channels we don’t watch.

    I swear I hate these assholes more than Google and Samsung combined. I can’t freakin’ wait until they merge with that other piece of shit outfit Comcast so they can f**k us even more.

    1. TWC has been trying to inflict/abuse their customers with bandwidth caps year after year after year. Every time, mobs of us fight back directly, on the phone and over the Internet and they relent. Have your extremely skilled wife raise hell with them AGAIN and point out that their abuse is NOT acceptable.

      In the past, their bandwidth cap pricing has been a full 10x above what it actually costs them for each GB you go over the limit. Now you know why I call this ABUSE. What a gang of rectal pores.

      Here are a couple exposés I’ve written about the TWC dicks-from-hell:

      Time Warner Cable: More Of
      The Same Old Customer Abuse Strategy

      <a href="Time Warner Cable Customer Abuse,
      Part II: Bait and Switch Billing Abuse
      ” target=”_new”>TITLE

      If only I could cut TWC’s ISP cable. I cut their TV cable nearly a year ago, instead picking up more and better resolution stations off-the-air.

  3. The Apple bundle sounds nice, but my internet is provided by Comcast and I know they’d screw me. Century Link has come around pimping their super fast internet that still hasn’t been built yet, so I don’t trust them. Yesterday I was watching NCAA basketball and hockey. The BB games have been on tbs, tnt and CBS. Hockey is on an ancillary channel of Fox Sports North. How about a bundle that gets rid of my wife’s soapies!

  4. It needs to be a channel by channel pick what you want to watch. Not these huge package deals with 75% of the channels that you don’t want or need. And they can’t be $15 each because now that is way to expensive.

  5. Even Apple’s solution feels like nothing more than a rearranging of deck chairs. I don’t want a bundle, and if I’m paying a monthly fee, I don’t want to be forced to view ads (looking at you, Hulu). So far, I don’t see any difference between this and traditional cable but for it’s delivery method (and one set top box is as good as another to non-tech savvy people, there is literally no difference to them). I think I’ll pass for now, thanks.

    1. Expect NO traction with customers if all Apple is allowed to offer is a rearranging of the deck chairs. They know that. Apple has been pushing for years for the idea à la carte user selection of exactly what they want to see, no bundling bullshit. But consistently, the media oligarchy demands remaining antiquated and user-hostile. There is now a movement from both customers AND progressive people within the media business to toss the executive geezers out the windows of their penthouses and move the media business into the 21st century at long bloody last. We can dream.

  6. The most important issue here is if the FCC has authority to limit the price cable companies can charge for Broadband only services. If not or even if so cable providers have complete control by simply raising that fee making any package from Apple noncompetitive.

    1. Internet prices will go up across the board as video revenue drops.

      This is simple economics. Even if a provider no longer offers video, the cost of maintaining the plant (the actual cabling system) is the same, hence the revenue has to be recouped somehow.

      1. Yes , True however will the FCC regulate request for increases if it can be shown that the request is to stifle competition as opposed to justified costs. I for one totally believe that they will eventually leave media to negotiated direct with the customer and only supply the pipes. I also think they will be happy to do so.

        1. I’m not sure how a rate increase could stifle competition.
          Seems just opposite to me.

          Also, once the FCC steps in to regulate fees, you can bet innovation will slow way down.

          As I alluded to in my first post, there is a better way.

          1. If A cable provider decides to charge say $60.00 for Internet only and Apple or whomever charges say $30 for their package and put HBO on top of that we are talking $105 while the cable company can offer their package including internet service for let’s say $60
            Puts Apple out of competition

  7. $1 per basic channel per month. Let me choose the channels, no contracts. I can watch any current or past episode on demand, but you can keep the commercials in. $3 per specialty channel per month, $10 per premium channel like HBO.

    $20 extra per month for iTunes match and commercial free iTunes/Beats radio and commercial free Apple TV subscriptions.

    Boom, done, now, was that so hard? Just put me in charge of negations. None of this BS, no lawyers, it’s a simple plan and it makes sense.

  8. There will be no savings in de-bundling. The cable companies will not sacrifice revenue, period. What will happen is that the small-time channels will simply go away without the subsidies provided by the current system and we will have fewer channel from which to choose. Mark my words.

      1. Ok. Then apply the same rule to the content generators. They’ll stop making programs for the lesser channels and up the cost to receive/stream/whatever the more popular ones. No one is going to reduce their revenue just because customers want to unbundle.

        1. It’s a business model that is hard to understand.
          The point of all those channels is to sell ads that are spread out among all the broadcasters channels.

          It is also why a la carte won’t (in the end) be that much cheaper, if at all.

  9. I have absolutely no desire to have ANY service which does not allow me to INFINITELY time-shift any show. If I want to record tonight’s episode of a particular show, and not watch it for 5 years, then I should be able to do that.

    My TiVo works just fine with my cable service from Cox; so far I have seen no DVR/PVR functionality proposed in Apple’s “skinny bundle,” which for me eliminates it from consideration.

    Yes, perhaps I am the edge case. But I know that I’m not the only one out there who’s got a DVR, and I can flat guarantee that those who have gotten used to having a DVR will not go for a streaming-only bundle from ANYONE, especially if there’s no time-shifting capability built-in.

  10. I get all of the networks over the air, and just signed up for a 1 week free trial of SLING tv so I could watch the NCAA tournament. I must say I’m impressed and will likely keep it. It has 2 EPSN’s, TNT, TBS, History, FOOD and more. 21 Channels in all. It’s a cherry pick of cable channels for only $20 a month and no contracts

    1. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get good, stable OTA signals in my apartment.

      You would think that the national ABC, NBC and CBS would want to have free streaming channels with all national commercials instead of local commercials.

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