This week alone, Apple added the Smithsonian Channel, The Disney Channel, Disney XD and Vevo, a music video channel. Additionally, ESPN added ESPN News and ESPN Deportes, to its channel lineup for pay TV subscribers who already subscribe to those live channels via cable or satellite. It’s a clear sign that Apple TV is developing its $99 over-the-top box from a hobby to something of true value.
It’s next step is to break down the barriers of the cable and satellite providers.
I’ve long questioned why Apple would include Apps that require a pay TV subscription: What’s the point of watching live programming on an Apple TV when you can watch it through your cable or satellite provider? It could help subscribers who don’t want to pay for an extra cable box for a TV outside of the living room, but that’s it. It actually encourages the sharing of pay TV login information.
While too many login accounts would likely be detected, there’s likely no way a consumer would be noticed for borrowing a parents’ or friends’ cable login to watch live ESPN. In fact, it’s a great solution for cost-saving, cord-cutters.
It is, however, stealing.
Apple will likely add more channels in the near future, but there’s going to come a point where they strike a deal with a major broadcaster, like CBS, who is currently in a long battle with Time Warner Cable over retransmission fees. CBS could charge subscribers $1.99/month and give users access to network programming, and perhaps local programming if a streaming strategy is put into place.
If Apple could land deals with the major networks, in addition to a CNN or Fox News (maybe the new Al Jazeera America network?), plus a pay subscription option for ESPN, it might be the ultimate cable killer. Let’s break down some estimated costs:
• ESPN would go premium and charge at least $15/month.
• CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox would charge about $3/month for a total of $12/month for all four.
• CNN would be about $5/month
• Netflix is $8/month
• Hulu Plus is $8/month
The grand total? $48. Let’s round it up to $50 for good measure. Compare that to your $100+ cable bill and it looks pretty good. More importantly, it includes only the content you want. True a la carte.
Thoughts? Weigh in below.