Apple is reportedly planning to launch its own online television streaming service in September, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
Citing people familiar with the matter, the Journal reports that Apple will introduce its subscription-based Internet TV service at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June and will launch the service in September. The idea is to provide a slimmed down version of a cable package, say the publication’s sources, to include the most popular channels but without the useless channels from smaller programmers.
Apple will reportedly offer a package of about 25 cable channels, anchored by broadcasters such as ABC, CBS, and Fox. The service will be available via Apple TV and other Apple devices, including the iPhone and iPad for a price that is believed to be around $30 to $40.
Notably, Apple is reportedly not planning on including channels from NBCUniversal, such as USA Network, CNBC, and NBC Sports, because of a reported rift with NBCUniversal parent company Comcast. The Journal reports that Apple and Comcast have started discussions last year about a streaming TV partnership that would use the Apple TV and get high priority on Comcast’s pipes. However, sources say Apple accused Comcast of its changing commitment to the partnership because it is working on its own X1 streaming service.
Rumors of an Apple-owned online streaming service have been around since 2009, when the Journal reported that CBS and Walt Disney, whose chairman and CEO Bob Iger currently sits on Apple’s board, were in talks with the iPhone maker to become part of a streaming TV service to be launched in 2010. Apple’s plans obviously did not push through, but a report from the New York Post surfaced three years later claiming Apple is adamant on launching the service despite resistance from broadcasters who do not want to hand full control of the video service to Apple, including determining the pricing.
This year, however, Apple has at least gained momentum when it secured an exclusive partnership with Time Warner Cable’s HBO Now, the online TV service the premium channel is planning to launch in June. Sources say HBO Now is simply a sneak peek into what Apple plans to offer with its full-blown web TV service.
But some media executives believe it may be difficult for Apple’s still unannounced service to take off without cable channels from NBCUniversal. Moreover, the $40 price tag could turn off cord cutters who are looking for cheaper ways to watch TV. Dish Network’s Sling TV offers a more competitive price at $20, which includes a package for live and on-demand content from channels such as ESPN, TNT, and Food Network.
However, Sling TV currently does not offer broadcast networks CBS, ABC, and NBC for customers paying for the cheapest package, so customers will still have to shell out more to watch the programs they want.