Typing Faster

December 22, 2009

Apple and iTunes Getting Into the Cable TV Racket?

Filed under: Future of TV, Hulu, Stuff I Like — petertypingfaster @ 10:01 pm

They seem to be trying to.

Apple is looking at disrupting the cable TV industry much the way it did the music industry. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is in talks with big TV networks like ABC and CBS to create paid subscription services that package broadcast and cable shows on an either a la carte basis or smaller bundles than are available now on cable.

Subscribers could pay a monthly fee through iTunes and get a more targeted group of networks that they want. One proposal would have subscribers paying $2 to $4 a month for each broadcast network and $1 to $2 per cable network. An earlier initiative involved a $30 bundle for a “best of TV” bundle that would not be accompanied by ads.

This is, frankly, awesome. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s wondered why I should have to pay for umpteen channels of crap, when there are only a handful that I watch with any regularity. Of course then the cable companies wouldn’t get to charge me a bazillion dollars a month. Obviously this makes a huge amount of sense for Apple, but what about the broadcasters?

There’s plenty of reasons why this won’t happen. Comcast, which owns a bunch of cable networks and is buying NBC, is unlikely to offer its programming to Apple and let it undermine its current business model. In that model, Comcast pays networks a fee to carry their content and then pulls in subscriptions from users and advertising dollars as well. Other content providers intrigued by Apple’s proposal might balk if this experimental venture endangers their steady stream of revenue from the cable and satellite companies.

I’m betting that if this comes to pass, we’d only see a couple of broadcasters / cable companies sign on at first. Then, depending on how things go with Apple’s new venture, the rest might follow suit. Either way, if anyone’s going to try something like this, I’m glad it’s the guys at Apple doing it.

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