Apple mulling $30/month TV subscription via iTunes

Mon, Nov 2, 2009

News, Rumors

Apple is reportedly reaching out to TV networks and pitching a $30/mo subcription service for watching TV shows via iTunes, according to a report today in the Wall Street Journal.

The report notes that the proposed subscription service won’t be tied to any particular hardware, and anyone with an iTunes account will be able to sign up.  And with over 65 million individual Tunes accounts and credit cards already in Apple’s possession, the prospect of an additional revenue stream is undoubtedly enticing for TV networks who continue to look for ways to monetize TV shows outside of the normal set top box medium.

But that’s not to say that networks are jumping on board just yet.  For starters, the networks are presumably wary of dancing with Apple after Apple was able to leverage the success of iTunes and the iPod to its advantage during negotiations.  The Journal notes that while network executives are “intrigued with the idea”, another concern is what such a deal would mean for its existing relationships with “cable providers like Comcast.”

Even if the service didn’t distribute TV programs until after their initial air date, that could cut into ratings, which now measure viewership over the course of several days.

Which is obviously a valid concern given the fact that advertising dollars are a lot higher on TV than they are on the web.

Apple reportedly wants to launch the service sometime in early 2010, but Peter Kafka of WSJ notes that he’s “yet to hear of a single programmer that has made a firm commitment to the company.”

Interestingly, there have also been rumors over the past few months suggesting that Apple is working on their own branded HDTV.  Also of note is that if TV subscriptions via iTunes truly takes off, it may serve to dramatically increase sales of the relatively non-exciting Apple TV.  If millions of people sign up for iTunes subscriptions, a good number of them will undoubtedly want ways in which to transfer that content over to their big screen TV’s, and that’s exactly how the Apple TV may transform into much more than a mere hobby.


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