A real alternative to cable may finally become a reality, thanks to Apple Inc. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is currently in talks to offer a compact bundle of 25 channels with a service they hope to debut this fall, including broadcasters such as ABC, CBS, and Fox; a falling out between Comcast and Apple has rendered the inclusion of NBCUniversal in the bundle unlikely. Walt Disney Co., CBS Corp., and 21st Centuy Fox Inc., on the other hand, are still very much in talks with Apple, looking to bolster the suggested bundle with other popular channels like ESPN and FX.
The price of the service is unconfirmed, but speculation has suggested a monthly fee of $30-40 dollars. The announcement of the service, which would be available on Apple products such as Apple TV, iPhones, and iPads, is planned for early summer, with a rollout intended to start in September, according to sources close to the project. That being said, nothing is even close to being finalized, and any setback in talks with programmers and broadcasters would throw the intended timeline into tumult. Still, Apple’s recent announcement that it will serve as the exclusive digital launch partner for HBO Now, starting in April, speak to the kineticism of the company and its seemingly unrelenting ambitions.
Above all of this is the question of competition, as a handful of streaming services, such as Dish Network’s Sling TV, are already offering cheap alternatives to cable, with Dish’s platform starting at $20 a month. Sony Corp. is also planning to launch a similar kind of service in the coming months. Neither of them, however, have any announced plans to offer big, primetime channels at their lowest rungs. The people who want this kind of service are likely those who want it for major events, such as awards ceremonies (Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, etc.) and sports (weekly games, Super Bowl, March Madness, etc.), and that seems to be what Apple’s proposed system would hand over, along with decent channel surfing options. Apple’s long-term plans to have a vast on-demand library might prove tricky though, as that would put Apple in direct competition with Netflix and Hulu, two companies that are doing alright for themselves, as it turns out.