Yesterday, we heard rumors that AT&T is thinking about an acquisition of Time Warner, the cable company that owns HBO and CNN, among other channels. A WSJ report this morning upgraded the urgency, saying that a deal could happen as soon as this weekend.
But according to other WSJ sources, Apple is also interested in Time Warner, and is “monitoring the situation.”
Apple’s interest in Time Warner, one of the biggest content creators out there, is not new. Reports surfaced back in January that Apple was one of a number of “possible suitors” to buy Time Warner. AT&T was also named as a potential bidder, so at least the rumors are consistent.
With cable TV revenues faltering and Netflix making a bundle of cash producing and delivery video online, a number of companies are circling Time Warner as an easy way to get into the media business. AT&T, which is one of the largest cable and internet providers, would buy Time Warner to make distributing its content easier. Buying the content creators is also a good hedge against traditional cable TV, which is dying an increasingly quick death.
On the other hand, Apple is looking at subscription content services like Netflix, Spotify and Amazon. The latter’s recent roll-out of Amazon Prime Music means that Amazon now offers a complete package of subscription services, while Apple is stuck with just Apple Music.
It’s unclear exactly what Apple would do with Time Warner, but it’s in a good position to bundle popular content and channels into a web TV service. In the same way that it used its ownership of iOS to convert millions of people to Apple Music, something similar could happen with TVs and movies.
In any case, Apple only said to be “monitoring the situation,” not actively bidding. If AT&T is desperate enough for media to overpay, Apple is less likely to enter a bidding war. But if a good price isn’t reached, or AT&T’s acquisition is blocked by regulators, I’m sure Apple will be waiting in the wings.