Apple’s desire to include local TV stations may delay its Apple TV service

“If Apple launches a TV service, it won’t be the first company to offer TV subscriptions over the Web,” Peter Kafka and Dawn Chmielewski report for Re/code. “But it wants to offer at least one thing rivals don’t have: Widespread access to live programming from local TV stations.”

“Apple’s ambitions have complicated its negotiations with the broadcast TV networks, because most broadcasters don’t own all their local stations, and have an affiliate, or franchise system,” Kafka and Chmielewski report. “Clearing the rights to show local programs and commercials takes some time… That means that Apple may not be ready to launch a Web TV service in early fall, as it has told programmers it would like to do.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There is precious little, if anything, that local TV offers us besides comedy fodder: Bad sets, bad talent, bad camerawork, bad writing, bad editing, etc. And, with the lack of money in local TV (since the local TV station is largely superfluous), it only gets worse, or funnier, depending on your perspective. (And, note: This is coming from those of us who spent over 15 years at multiple local TV stations and network affiliates across the U.S.)

What exactly does local TV offer that we can’t get on our wrists in a glance? Nothing much useful. Local news is the unique product – the rest of local TV programming are network feeds, syndicated shows, and informercials – all of which are already available elsewhere. Weather is local TV news’ top draw. But – hello? – it’s 2015: We have access to the weather at any time in a split second. Live or semi-live (tape-delayed) hyperlocal sports? Okay, but is Apple seriously going to delay their new service because they can’t offer Outer Podunk the ability to watch the local JUCO lose another basketball game?

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Bill” for the heads up.]

27 Comments

      1. MDN may have spent over 15 years involved in local programming, but where and how long ago was it? Defiance, OH would be a whole other world of experience than New York, Chicago, or L.A.

        Today… beyond the strictly local news stuff, which isn’t as bad as MDN’s take would have you think … there is high definition (1080) entertainment content. Content that is terrible to watch over the internet… even when (if) it’s available, which usually isn’t the case for 1080. Much network programming is delayed and can’t be viewed for week or more.

        So much for the immediacy of the internet.

        And when programming is available it’s rife with commercials that stutter and often cause the show you’re watching to hang.

    1. Well, local tv news should and could provide an idea of what is going on at the county level and state level, such as new laws being passed, where money is being spent, new businesses cropping up in the city, overall trends going on in the city…. But instead they focus on murders, car crashes, and traffic. It is a sad state that the tv news teams have to do all this, mainly due to trying to be number one in the ratings category. I every once and a while see a slice of what local news could be…and when i do it usually informs me a great deal and i come away knowing more about my city then i did before.

  1. I seriously doubt that the kind of consumer that Apple attracts would be heartbroken that they can’t watch local news at 6PM. The future is not Anchorman (Will Ferrell skewered) style news but something along the lines of Vice or Last Week Tonight. And if you really need to watch Meredith or Ellen then you’ll figure out how to do that with AirPlay. I can barely stomach local programming and I would laugh myself silly if Apple took their huge cash-hoard, bought all of these affiliates just so that they could put a dagger through their hearts.

  2. If Apple were to incorporate an OTA tuner in the TV box, then no problem. They wouldn’t be selling a subscription, just a tuner for local programming. The channel selection would be controlled through the TV interface, so Apple would have control over the user interface and they could do a lot better job on the tuner than a lot of the TV sets manage. Plus, no compression of the broadcast signal. How about it Apple?

    Actually, Apple is probably running up against the legal restriction of providing network programming (over the internet) in conflict with the local network franchise. Basically, the franchise pays big bucks to distribute the network shows in a geographical area and laws are in place to prevent anyone from infringing on their viewer base. DishTV got in big trouble for that a few years back.

    1. Apple likes to sell products that are the same all over the world. There is a wide range of television transmission standards – not simply 525 line NTSC vs 625 line PAL, but the transmitters use differing frequency bands, various analogue and digital systems and loads of variations within each category.

      Apart from the technical aspects, Apple is not a fan of broadcast RF. They weren’t keen on putting FM radio in iPods and I don’t see it happening with TV.

      1. Good points, although I was thinking more in terms of digital TV than the old analog formats. I don’t look for it to happen, I just know Apple could do a better job of OTA than the current TV makers.

      1. OTA reception is tricky, but a really good receiver (as well as a decent antenna} is necessary. I know the current TV makers aren’t very good at it and I’m sure Apple could do it better.

        1. I have used an Elgato USB stick TV receiver and their software with MacBook Air and small powered antenna with excellent results very nice when travelling

      2. Some markets, like Dallas, have channels still in the VHF freqs (WFAA 8 is still 8 there I believe)

        Most ‘digital’ antennas are UHF only and can’t pick up the lower channels.

        Matter of fact, Memphis still has a channel 5 for some God-awful reason, which is a VHF-lo channel (2-6) that were mostly given up during the transition.

        You can still get antennas cut for VHF or with an extendable wand for channels 2-13.

          1. Right. It is in the VHF-low band.
            Rabbit ears should work within 15 miles or so of Memphis.

            You might be able to run this into a reverse split with your UHF antenna to combine them for a single coax input to your TV.

            Or splurge for a fugly all-band antenna and chunk it up on your rooftop. This is your best solution (just be sure to to add a ground block and tie it to your house grounding).

  3. Sorry, MDN, but some of us watch _only_ local broadcast TV. So, yes, quiviran, please Apple put in an _excellent_ digital tuner (or two or three) in the new AppleTV. As in the golden days past, we will be responsible for our antennae and connections. I do not want any bundles, any cost, or any subscriptions, to watch TV as a federally mandated broadcast service,

  4. This story does not make a great deal of sense to me as anyone can pull any local TV station over the air with a $5 home made antenna. The amazing thing is that the picture quality is actually better than cable because the signal is not compressed. I have 3 ATV’s and just switch sources when I want to watch local for news or sports

  5. How many local TV stations stream their video over the Internet? Very few. Many of them can barely get a reliable image to stream over the air.

    I suspect there will be a small clutch of locals that get involved and most won’t even bother.

    1. “Many of them can barely get a reliable image to stream over the air.”

      Huh?
      OTA HD is either 720p or 1080i MPEG-2 with little compression, which is only bested in TV quality by Blue-ray’s 1080p.

      Nothing streamed via the internet in MPEG-4 can compare, even though it may be more ‘efficient’ in bandwidth.

      Just sayin’…….

  6. Since the AppleTV service is not consumer HW, why would it delay release of everything else? Isn’t delaying this similar to just waiting for a new cable channel to be added to the service? Just add the local services when it is available for each location.

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