Thursday, July 18, 2013

Apple TV - Partner vs. Competitor To Cable

It has been said that if you can't beat them, join them.  In the world of OTT, companies like Google, Intel, and others are trying to create competitive platforms to compete against cable with lower subscriber costs and better functionality.  But cable operators have a tight grip on programmers with license fee deals and growing revenue, despite drops in cable subscription. 

And while it is possible to get lower rated and off the chart programmers to make deals with the OTT overbuilders, the top networks may be reluctant to lose sure cable dollars for digital pennies.  Apple may have seen their own attempts to acquire programming fruitless and now seems to be aiming toward partnership with cable operators, not competition.

"Instead of trying to create an Internet-based pay-TV service, Apple is going to attempt to turn pay-TV into another application.... (New York Times writer Brian) Stelter says Apple is talking to big distributors like Time Warner Cable about doing applications for the current Apple TV, which is a little box that gets plugged into the television."  For me ideally, that would mean that I could replace the current cable TV set top box with an Apple TV box and get all the functionality of DVR, on demand, and more in a much more improved interface.  No more tree and branch interface, rather the ability to search, scroll, select, record and using my iPad, iPhone, and iPod and watch on these devices or on my big screen TV set.  How easy and how cool!  Add to that the ability to watch authenticated programming outside the home in a TV Everywhere world. 

Consumers could rent Apple TV devices from their cable operators or easily buy and install on their own.  As an added product extension, equip these devices with a hard drive to offer DVR recording along with N-DVR option.  Along with all the other apps that an Apple TV can offer and you have built a very strong reason for consumers to stick with their cable operator too.  So I am eager to see how Apple proceeds and which cable operators embrace this technology partner.