Talks with cable companies and TV networks about just such a plan “seem to be heating up,” according to a blog post by former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin. This would be a premium service for Apple, she says — and distributors have an incentive to consider the idea because the consumer electronics company would compensate them for the revenues they’d lose. Apple CEO Tim Cook and SVP Eddy Cue raised the idea with some execs last week at Allen & Co’s Sun Valley mogulfest, Lessin says. The company has been working for years to develop its own TV set and service; last year Cook called it “an area of intense interest for us.” But owners of TV rights have a good thing going with pay TV providers, and for the most part have been unimpressed with Apple’s efforts to join the club. Apple’s idea to compensate them for ad skipping “seems unlikely to be enough to convince them” to change their minds, Lessin says. Networks fear that tech companies such as Apple ultimately want to offer programming a la carte, instead of in the current bundles that require subscribers to pay for channels that they don’t watch. Without bundling, the TV ecosystem would lose about half of its value — now estimated at $70B — with only 20 channels able to survive, Needham & Co analyst Laura Martin said in a report yesterday.But lots of consumers are intrigued by the idea of an Apple-provided TV service. The company already offers Apple TV, a $99 set top box that blends streaming video with conventional programming. Time Warner Cable is said to be closing in on a deal to feed its programming through Apple TV, similar to its arrangements with Roku and Microsoft’s Xbox 360.
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