I’ve been pretty critical of Apple’s efforts in the TV space, having previously called the company’s seemingly non-existent TV strategy aimless and backwards. And with good reason, nothing Apple has done to date suggests that the company truly understands what makes for a compelling TV viewing experience. Bizarrely, Apple still can’t seem to figure out if it wants to jump into the TV space head-first or simply leverage a few TV programs to bolster its Apple Music service.
What’s more, Apple’s rumored TV subscription service remains nowhere to be seen. If you recall, Apple a few years ago was reportedly interested in rolling out a skinny bundle of cable TV channels at an affordable price. Ultimately, word surfaced that Apple couldn’t reach mutually agreeable pricing terms with content providers, thus nipping Apple’s streaming plans in the bud. All the while, Apple has already been beaten to the skinny bundle punch, first by DirecTV and soon by Hulu, Google, Comcast and even Verizon.
That said, Apple might have a trick up its sleeve after all.
Not every TV streaming service is created equal, and a new report from Recode suggests that Apple may be working on a skinny bundle that could completely change the streaming landscape as we know it. Citing sources within the TV industry, the report relays that Apple is now interested in putting together a TV package that would include premium channels like HBO, Starz and Showtime within the same bundle.
Here’s Apple’s latest proposal: It wants to sell consumers a premium TV bundle, which combines HBO, Showtime and Starz.
Apple already sells each of those channels individually. But it has approached the three networks about rolling them up into a single package, as conventional pay TV operators sometimes do.
If Apple can actually get this done at a reasonable price point, it would immediately set Apple’s mythical TV streaming service apart from the rest of the pack. Even if Apple prices its streaming service a tad higher than its competitors, the ability for users to instantly access premium shows from the likes of HBO and Showtime — while also receiving access to traditional cable channels like AMC, ESPN and Bravo — would be an immediate game changer.
As it stands now, Apple already offers customers HBO, Showtime and Starz subscriptions for $15, $11 and $9, respectively. Presumably, a streaming package containing all three would fall somewhere in the $60 range, though it’s worth noting that Recode’s sources were unaware of Apple’s desired pricing plan. Previously, it was widely believed that Apple was aiming to introduce a skinny bundle with 25-30 channels in the $40/month range.
All that said, there appears to be more life left in Apple’s TV plans than we would have otherwise imagined. Incidentally, Apple recently hired Shiva Rajaraman, formerly of YouTube, to help bolster the company’s video efforts.