Can Apple 'kill' cable, satellite TV? Probably not anytime soon
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Can Apple 'kill' cable, satellite TV? Probably not anytime soon

Mike Elgan, writing for "Computerworld" (, thinks that Apple's next goal is to "kill" the cable and satellite companies.

I think that may be a little optimistic, but if Apple were to give those companies a run for their money, it would certainly be perceived as a major feather in new CEO Tim Cook's cap. I say "perceived" because the plans for such action have probably been underway for some time -- if Elgan is right, and I think he is.

Apple has conquered the music, phone and tablet markets. It's working on the ebook and e-magazine markets. That leaves one big, bad content experience to replace, and the "elephant in the room is television," writes Elgan. "For the past few years, Apple's 'hobby' has been solving the TV and home video content consumption problem," he writes. "Now, it looks like Apple may turn pro."

Considering reports from the "Wall Street Journal" and other sources, he notes that:

° Sources say Apple is working on "new technology to deliver video to televisions" and may "launch a subscription TV service."

° Former Apple CEO and current Chairman of the Board Steve Jobs "often criticizes, in public and in private, the experience of watching TV as clumsy and bad for consumers" and says that the "existing system, where consumers get content from different cable and satellite providers that use different technologies, makes it difficult to innovate."

° Apple already has licensing deals to sell individual TV shows or entire series in the form of a "Season Pass" on iTunes. The problem is that those season passes are too expensive. Selection is poor and pricey, but the iTunes and Apple TV experience is great.

° Apple is working on building an iOS-based HDTV for 2012 or 2013.

I'd ditch cable and satellite TV if iTunes TV, as I'll call it, offered the same viewing packages I can get via a cable/satellite provider, but with more flexible pricing. I want to pay for the shows/channels I watch, not pay for a bundle with dozens of channels I don't care about.

Also, if Apple offered iTunes, I've expect to be able to watch TV on my iOS devices and my Macs. In other words, I'd want better TV viewing options than I have now (no delay in new TV shows, for instance) on more devices. When that happens, you can count me among those who ditch cable and satellite TV.

Unfortunately, there are roadblocks that may keep that from happening soon. Ben Bajarin, the director of Consumer Technology Analysis and Research at Creative Strategies, an industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley, explains it this way:

"What many people either know or don’t know is that Hollywood is nearly impossible to deal with. Unlike the record labels whose business is more distrubution, the movie studios and TV networks prefer controlled distrubution. Both the TV studios and the movie studios carefully control when, where and how their content is distributed.

"They have exceptionally strong legal rights to their content and because of that they are in the driver seat. Take for example Starz, HBO and Showtime.

"If you have ever wondered why there is no digital 'subscription' service for first release titles of movies it is because Starz, HBO and Showtime own the rights to first run movies as a subscription service. This is why as a part of their subscription services comapnies like Netflix, Apple, Amazon etc can not offer a digital download or streaming subscription service which includes new releases on DVD.

"This is why the only options to date to get a first release on DVD digitally is to buy it or rent it. For any company to offer a subscription service to download or stream new release movies they would have to get HBO, Starz and Showtime on board, not to mention the studios, who I think have more lawyers than employees."

Bajarin thinks that the television will someday become the next big platform to deliver rich content and services to and that it needs to be disrupted in a major way, but doesn't see that happening anytime soon as Hollywood is driven by two things: fear and greed.

If Apple could overcome those two driving forces, it would be a major coup indeed.

-- Dennis Sellers


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