Apple has endured years of trouble trying to launch a subscription TV service to rival cable, and now it looks like more of the same as it will reportedly delay launching a new live TV service until 2016.
That’s according to a new report from Bloomberg Thursday afternoon, which cites people familiar with Apple’s plans.
The new live video service was to be part of a subscription service Apple hoped to launch alongside a new Apple TV streaming device at an event September 9th. If the Bloomberg report is true, Apple may launch a new Apple TV sans content at the event next month.
Bloomberg’s sources said that Apple is still slogging through slow-moving negotiations with big TV content rights holders like CBS and Fox. The sources said Apple also doesn’t have the network infrastructure in place to ensure the end-to-end delivery of high-quality video.
Apple reportedly wants to deliver a TV content package for about $40 per month, roughly half of what most people pay for cable. The rights holders are responsible for the high cable prices, pressuring cable companies to pay higher and higher licensing fees as contracts are renewed. Why rights holders would give Apple a special deal is unclear.
For their part, TV industry executives are deathly afraid that Apple will do to the video business what it did to the music business. The music industry’s acquiescence to the 99-cents-per-song paradigm in the 2000s is seen as one of the central causes, if not the main cause, of the demise of the music business during the decade.
More immediate problems exist. One of the content owners Apple is reportedly negotiating with is NBC, which is part of Comcast. An Apple TV service would be a direct competitor to Comcast’s video service.
These are not new problems. The atmosphere for a favorable Apple content deal is no less toxic than it was five years ago. If anything, it may be even more of a sellers market now that Internet video services are seen as a viable threat to cable.
Apple wants to control the living room and grow a powerful ecosystem of apps and content centered on the Apple TV box in the living room. But as in all Apple ecosystems, the content is key.