Will Apple TV kill cable?

“Apple TV is scheduled for a long overdue update, with rumors of a new interface coming this September coupled with a new programming offering to be released next year,” Michael Yoshikami writes for CNBC.

“Web-only media options such as Netflix and Hulu have proven to be a significant force competing with cable companies. Amazon continues its aggressive push into streaming media and its recent addition of the hosts from BBC show ‘Top Gear’ clearly demonstrates Amazon is willing to spend whatever it takes to gain a foothold in this new digital environment,” Yoshikami writes. “Consumers are increasingly frustrated that they are paying for 700 channels when they really only watch 10.”

“So, will Apple TV change the face of television?” Yoshikami writes. “It will and will be a part of a growing movement to provide more tailored alternatives in an on-demand basis through all distribution channels (including mobile). The cable companies will no doubt keep fighting in this new environment. But, at this point, it is less about expanding market share and more about reducing share erosion.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s all about the mix of content and the pricing. The mix will be crucial. There have to be enough of the networks that people want that any “missing” can be mentally written off as worth it for the savings offered. People will figure out how to get their missing needs fulfilled regardless, but if to much is missing from their list, they won’t bite on Apple’s offering. As we mentioned yesterday, Apple’s Internet TV service will have to have ESPN. It will also likely require the “Big Four” networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) – although it could launch with three out of four and eventually hammer out a deal with whichever one is being the most reticent.

Beyond the Big Four, if you go by ratings (total viewers), the top 20 cable networks are:

2. USA
3. TNT
4. Disney
5. TBS
6. History
7. Fox News
8. FX
9. Discovery
10. AMC
11. HGTV
12. Adult Swim
13. Nick at Nite
14. A&E
15. ABC Family
16. Lifetime
17. Syfy
18. Food
19. TLC
20. Bravo

Source: Nielsen estimates, full year 2014

Apple’s Internet TV: How many TV networks will make the cut? – August 18, 2015
The next-gen Apple TV’s marquee feature – August 18, 2015
Apple to delay live Internet TV service to 2016 as negotiations stall, sources say – August 13, 2015
Top Gear’s Clarkson, Hammond and May sign with Amazon Prime for new show to debut in 2016 – July 30, 2015


  1. Ridiculous headline! Apple TV may help kill cable 5-10 years from now; but the cable alternatives that are currently being discussed by Apple and others are only a drop in the bucket. No provider is even close to proposing an alternative that gives viewers the option to watch their preferred channels at a reasonable price and ditch the rest.

    1. Exactly, but the Apple vegans like red-meat, er, beets……

      It will all happen eventually, like you said, and ISPs are gearing up for it, but nothing is fast enough for some Americans who will probably argue to involve the FCC.

  2. If it will support TiVo like service where I can time shift and skip over commercials. If so I am in. Already I record over the air digital on my iMac using EyeTV and that is near perfect. Not only records but pretty easy to edit out commercials if I want to archive a movie for example. Also been using TiVo for 15 years, never going back to watching commercials.

    1. Can’t disagree that there’s a lot of garbage. But with the volume of total program offerings so high, the small percentage of quality programming is still larger than ever before. Any service that can provide the ability to pick and choose will offer a substantial selection of high quality programs.

      1. I cancelled all TV from Comcast about 2 years ago in favor of a digital antenna (one time $20 expense), Netflix ($8/month) and Sling ($20/month). Got Sling for ESPN, but cancelled during first month because its technology was so crappy: movie player quits often (requiring rebooting), lots of video artifacts and despicable sound quality (couldn’t hear most channels even with headset).

        Still, I see Sling, Netflix, Hulu and the many channels offered on AppleTV as the future. The big change will be when the individual channels offer direct to viewer programming. As the number of cord cutters continues to increase I see the tipping point being when the producers can make more going direct, than they can by distributing via cable operators. My guess is 3 – 5 years, and the producers have already signaled the operators of their intent. This is why the cable operators have begun marketing internet and phone packages vs internet, phone and TV packages.

  3. I hope that the offering is not another way to access broadcasts. I don’t want channels (except for live events) – I want content. I don’t need to know which network it comes from, and I certainly don’t want another broadcast stream to record. So, if Apple is going to have channels – I hope it is for anytime access to their content, not on a schedule that someone decides to blast it over the waves/internet/etc. Having said that, I think they will keep Apple as unappealing and uncompetitive as possible. They don’t want what has come to pass in the music world. It’s sad – the industrial age – this is what we offer – you will take it and like it attitude abounds. Steve Jobs could envision a different world (so can most of us, I think), but the hollywood machine has no capacity to see beyond the present, to see how to align with the changing desires of their clients. Since everyone seems to be addicted to their product, they really don’t care. Maybe if the young people just stop watching (as some polls indicate), things will change. If we could act together – like everyone cut the cord at once – there would be some real frantic change to get on board by the dinosaurs that see the Ark pulling away in the waves…

  4. I have a feeling that the most popular cable networks will love the opportunity to end up charging customers ultimately more as the money that went to subsidized networks goes away and then is available all for them. End result? We end up paying about the same for less.

  5. The TV moguls made their own mess by taking a substandard product and regurgitating it through an infinite lineup of channels for 150 a month.

    Hollywood and the movie people aren’t far behind the mess that cable TV finds itself in.

    The garbage they peddle now isn’t worth more than $20 bucks a month unless it’s your fat kid’s babysitter.

  6. Since Apple is not an ISP, the cable cartel and TelCos still have a death grip on access. Comcast has realized this and steadily raised the price of Internet even as it capped the data and effectively discounted it’s TV products.

    This is one good argument for common carrier and equal access regulation of ISPs.

    When you buy the TV package the digital packets carrying On Demand Comcast TV do not count against your data cap- but the data packets carrying IPTV from 3rd parties do.

    Customer 1 has xFinity TV, Internet and a Comcast Box and Customer 2 has xFinity Internet , an Apple TV and HBO Now.
    Both watch Game of Thrones. The customer watching HBO on a Comcast Box Program does not count against their data cap as Comcast classifies it as TV. The customer watching the same show on HBO Now is charged for the data against their cap despite watching the same content.

      1. Most American have one broadband provider and many in rural areas only have satellite Wild Blue/Exede or Cell Data. Satellite offers consumers a max of 30GB a month- in some areas less. Cell phone data plans typically top out at 5GB a month- I know as I have 2 (AT&T and Verizon) for mobile use (hotspots).
        Streaming HD content eats data at easily better than a GB per hour. Cable ISPs are capping residential data at 250-300GB/month for your entire household. Watching a lot of streaming HD content will eat that up.

        Apple needs to work out a sponsored data plan (keeping their content off your data cap), partner withe the ISPs or become a Virtual Network Operator.

        The one thing that is for sure: Comcast, Charter, Time Warner Cable, AT&T and Verizon have no intent upon letting you gobble up vast amounts of data on their networks for a small subscription fee. They are effectively monopolies in their home areas (land line). Few Americans have much choice for a hard wired broadband connection.

  7. I don’t watch ESPN, I never have and never will, and more importantly, I don’t want to be forced into subsidizing the rates paid by those who DO watch ESPN in order to watch those few things I actually do watch. For those who DO watch ESPN, wonderful, it’s what you want to watch, you should be able to watch it. I just don’t want to have to pay a premium so your costs can be reduced. A la carte selection/purchase is the way to go. Period.

  8. I think everyone is talking about this backwards. I don’t care about the best networks. There’s really no such thing. I care about the shows I watch and their scattered all over the landscape. I really just want to watch the shows I want to watch. Who cares about the networks. That’s the old model.

    1. Exactly.
      Apple could sell season passes for individual shows IN SEASON- not 6 months later when the DVDs come out.

      I subscribe to HBO but only watch a handful of shows- same for Showtime. Could not give a damn about Boxing, rerun movies and the rest.

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