July 3, 2013
Apple Nears Deal With Time Warner, May Add Live Channels to Apple TV
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Apple may be ready to sign a deal with popular cable provider Time Warner Cable to bring new channels to the existing Apple TV. This deal would allow Time Warner subscribers to access their channels through Apple's set-top box and even bring live channels as well. Bloomberg also noted Apple has hired on Hulu media marketing chief Pete Distad to broker even more deals like this.A Time Warner spokesperson said they currently had no agreement with Apple, but the company is said to have deals with customers like Roku that closely resemble the terms described by people familiar with Apple's deal. Most recently, Apple secured a deal to deliver HBO GO and WatchESPN channels to their existing Apple TV offering.
If this deal works out, it will be the first of its kind between Apple and a cable provider. Content and set-top box providers have been negotiating for years in an attempt to find ways to deliver premium channels without asking the customer to subscribe to a bloated cable package. Roku and Microsoft have been able to secure similar deals which allow customers to access some of this content from their living room devices. However cable providers are said to be worried about ceding too much control to these companies.
For years Apple has been expected to revolutionize the television industry in much the same way they affected the music business in the early 2000s. Working together with Time Warner Cable to add a few channels is slightly different than the tack some had expected the Cupertino company to take, but according to Benedict Evans, an analyst at Enders Analysis who spoke with Bloomberg, Apple will be able to make this approach work in their favor.
"It's not necessary for Apple to remake the media industry to sell a great TV product," said Evans. "They are methodically adding to Apple TV."
Bloomberg also claims Apple has hired a Hulu executive to help them add more content to their device. While neither Apple nor Hulu have discussed the details of this hiring, the Hulu website says he's over "subscriber acquisition and retention, paid, on-channel, and brand marketing, distribution and promotional partnerships, and content marketing." Now at Apple, Distad will report directly to senior vice president of product marketing Phil Schiller.
Hulu has proven itself able to work with content providers in the past, offering currently running programs and original shows online or through the existing Apple TV. Hulu and Netflix have been leading the market to bring streaming content past the desktop and laptop and directly to the TV either by installed apps or set-top boxes.
Though Apple already offers a device called the Apple TV, many have been expecting the company to either entirely revamp the hockey-puck looking device or create and sell an actual television set designed by Jony Ive's team in California.
Though Apple may be in talks to bring Time Warner content to some device, Bloomberg also reported last month that the cable company is looking to fight back against any possible deals with Apple and Intel, who is also looking to develop their own set-top box.
The June report says the cable provider is willing to pay content providers a higher price if they sign exclusivity deals with Time Warner. The June Bloomberg report also claims the cable company may threaten to stop offering content if these providers work with the likes of Apple and Intel.