“For all the changes to Apple TV, one thing still missing was a hoped-for bundle of television programs. So what happened?” Katie Benner reports for The New York Times. “Blame a combination of complexity and cost that doesn’t work in Apple’s favor. ‘Television broadcast and digital rights are incredibly complicated, especially when you get into international rights,’ said Dan Cryan, senior director, media and content at IHS, a research firm. ‘This is tougher than film. It’s an absolute snarl of contracts and agreements.'”
“‘Apple TV needs TV shows to succeed, especially live sports,’ said James L. McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research. ‘Otherwise it doesn’t stand out from other products that let us stream Netflix and Hulu,'” Benner reports. “In the United States, Apple might have to negotiate with a network like CBS for content, but it would also have to negotiate with local affiliates for rights to some shows. People with knowledge of Apple’s television negotiations say that local affiliates pushed back against some content deals.”
“‘Ten years ago there were no templates for doing digital deals and figuring out complexities like streaming rights and union negotiations,’ said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group. ‘But now those templates exist and a company can get the rights to content if it’s willing to pay a huge amount of money,'” Benner reports. “The price tag that Apple would have to pay at this point would be high, because the TV world that Apple is dealing with now is stronger than the music industry was when Apple needed songs for iTunes and the iPod…To create a broad base of users around Apple TV… the holy grail is still more traditional programming like sports and hit television shows.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s Internet TV service will certainly have to offer 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:
7. Fox News
12. Adult Swim
13. Nick at Nite
15. ABC Family
Source: Nielsen estimates, full year 2014
Of course, Apple TV will also need to continue providing access to Netflix, Hulu, etc. and likely start to offer Amazon Prime, etc. for subscribers of those services.