Apple’s planned HDTV caught in negotiation standstill with content providers

Mon, Mar 5, 2012

News, Rumors

Apple’s rumored HDTV is the most recent example of a secretive, yet completely unannounced, product from Apple generating an inordinate amount of hype, speculation, and curiosity.

By many accounts, Apple will unveil a new HDTV sometime in 2012, though credible reports regarding a release date remain wanting.

With an HDTV, Apple faces a unique set of challenges it didn’t have to face before in the tablet and smartphone space. As a result, analysts and tech enthusiasts are wondering just how Apple will be able to revolutionize the TV viewing experience.

One rumor involves Apple completely upending the way consumers pay for content. As it stands now, cable subscribers pay for packages wherein they pay for a whole lot of channels they may not necessarily watch or even want. The Apple HDTV, rumor has it, will for the first time enable users to pay for only the channels they want to watch.

That’s a nice idea in theory, but doing so requires the cooperation of content providers and cable companies who many not be interested in getting into bed with Apple.

According to a recent report in the New York Post, Apple wants to launch its new HDTV in time for 2012 holiday shopping season but is running into resistance from content providers

Spearheading Apple’s negotiations is Eddy Cue, who despite his charming ways, hasn’t been able to make much headway thus far.

Citing one source familiar with the negotiations, Apple, in typical fashion, wants the final say on pricing and content. Essentially, Apple “wants everything for nothing.”

Apple is pitching the idea of offering channels as apps for its devices, including its Apple TV set-top box. It’s unclear whether it would group the apps together and charge a fee — similar to a cable-TV subscription — or offer the channels on an a la carte basis.

Apple’s iTunes allows users to rent and download TV shows, but the company is hoping to add a streaming video option over the Web. Also, several TV networks, such as ABC, offer apps that allow users to watch some shows.

Apple’s earlier attempt to create a bundled video offering failed to gain traction when it first broached the idea in 2009. One problem was that Apple wanted to share in the ad revenue rather than pay a distribution fee like Netflix and other streaming video providers.

Hmm, streaming app channels to a big screen TV? That’s an awful lot of bandwidth, especially if you want HD like quality.

Interestingly, the report claims that Apple has tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to convince cable operators to abandon their own cable boxes in exchange for Apple’s own.

“They want to create the interface, and they wanted to work with the cable guys to manage bandwidth across the TV and broadband pipeline,” the source also added.

But so far it’s been a no go as cable executives prefer “to keep Apple at a safe distance from the lucrative $150 billion pay-TV business.”

Compounding matters is that many cable companies, such as Comcast, are launching their own streaming video services. What Apple can do to an industry at this point is well known thanks to the iPod and the iPhone. With TV being such a lucrative cash cow, agreeing to Apple’s terms, hell, doing business with Apple at all, might be a tough proposition to sell.

Apple hasn’t given up, however, and is said to be pursuing deals with telecom companies such as Verizon and AT&T. It hopes to get traction with a single player in hopes of pulling the rest of them along.

While Apple is also rumored to be working on its own actual TV set, sources believe its first priority is to bring a TV service to the market.

And a challenge it shall be.

via New York Post



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