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The biggest barrier to an Apple-Comcast deal

Published Mar 25th, 2014 8:10AM EDT
Comcast Apple TV Streaming Deal

Apple customers are some of the most fanatically loyal tech fans on the planet. Comcast customers, not so much. For this reason, the two companies might seem like unlikely partners when it comes to possibly signing a deal to bring live Comcast cable TV programming to Apple’s Apple TV set-top box. AppleInsider draws our attention to a new note from Barclays analyst Kannan Venkateshwar, who says he can’t possibly see Comcast agreeing to a deal that would undermine its power as a content gatekeeper, even if it would make for a better overall experience.

“In order to offer any credible product, Apple with either have to (1) rely on an MVPD’s linear content rights or (2) pay for these rights on its own,” Venkateshwar writes. “Consequently, in our opinion, any deal between Apple and an MVPD like Comcast is likely to be in a form where the MVPD’s app appears on Apple TV along with other non linear offerings like Netflix. Such an arrangement would imply that any subscriber to such a service will have to be a Comcast subscriber who happens to have Apple hardware rather than an Apple customer who becomes a Comcast subscriber.”

Venkateshwar also notes that Comcast has had the opportunity to strike a similar deal with TiVo over the past decade but has chosen not to do so.

“[TiVo] has been around for more than a decade with a product offering which has always been substantially better than the average MVPD user experience but has never been allowed into the distribution eco system in the US on a wide scale,” he writes. “If an MVPD was looking to upgrade to the best possible user experience, it would much easier and cheaper to sign an agreement with TIVO than with Apple.”

In other words, Comcast isn’t interested in upgrading its product offerings if it means giving up even a tiny sliver of its content distribution powers. Color us unsurprised.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.