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Google, Apple Pitch Pay-TV Services

Alan Breznick
7/17/2013



Back to their old tricks, Google Inc. and Apple Inc. are both trying to drum up support among programmers for proposed new online TV services, according to various press reports.

In the latest move, the The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Google has been talking to programmers for several months about licensing the rights to stream their channels and programs to online users. In at least one case, the paper reported, Google has shown a demonstration of the proposed product.

But it's not clear yet whether Google, the latest in a long line of tech giants to attempt such a service, has made any headway with media companies. Google reportedly made a similar attempt about two years ago, only to pull back from the pay-TV market when it couldn't strike any licensing deals.

At the same time, Apple is reportedly making new noises about its own much-speculated designs for a pay-TV service. As reported by former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin earlier this week, Apple is now pitching a "premium" TV service to programmers that would let viewers skip commercials but then compensate the networks for their lost ad revenue.

Apple already offers a far more elementary TV service to viewers. Consumers can buy a small Apple TV set-top box for $99 and then stream Internet video and iTunes content to their TV sets. But Apple has long held greater ambitions for a full-fledged TV service with live content from the major broadcast and cable networks.

Similar to the Google situation, there's no word yet about whether Apple is making much progress in its talks with programmers or its parallel negotiations with cable operators about teaming up on pay-TV services. Like Google, Apple has run into resistance in the past with programmers, who are eager to put their content on new viewing platforms but loathe to disrupt their lucrative distribution deals with cable operators, satellite TV providers and telco video players.

Google and Apple are far from alone. Both Sony Corp. and Intel Corp.have been seeking to craft similar online pay-TV services as well.

In the latest move on those fronts, Intel has indicated that it may call its proposed service OnCue. Intel, which has held its own licensing rights talks with several media companies, is reportedly looking to launch its new online TV service before the end of the year.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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albreznick
albreznick
7/18/2013 | 2:04:47 PM
re: Google, Apple Pitch Pay-TV Services
So how many new players will this market bear? When does the old pay TV business model finally break down? Which MSO will be the first to go OTT? So many questions, so little time to answer.
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