Here's a new one. Apple TV wants to introduce a new video service, but it's delaying the launch because of content licensing hurdles.
Stop me if you've heard this before.
Bloomberg is reporting that Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has postponed plans for a $40-per-month TV service that was due to launch this fall. In theory, the new service would have been timed to go live with the announcement of a new Apple TV box on September 9. However, Apple has reportedly had trouble making deals with broadcasters and will now hold off on the launch until 2016. (See also Is Apple Pursuing OTT Again?)
Apple TV rumors are a dime a dozen, but each time a new report leaks out of Cupertino, it's worth noting how the video landscape has shifted while Apple continues to make its plans. A year ago there was no Sling TV, no custom video packages from Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), no HBO Now. The skinny bundle was a dream, not a reality, and broadcasters were still reveling in the promise of ever-escalating payouts from retransmission agreements.
Things have changed. Not only are skinny bundles on the rise, but the market has started to punish media companies for losing audiences to new modes of TV viewing. If programmers were skittish in the past about content licensing, they're likely even more so now that the financial impact of changing consumer behavior is starting to hit home. (See What DirecTV's Big Sub Loss Means and Dish's Losses Are Sling TV's Gains.)
According to Bloomberg, Apple is also delaying its launch because it wants to have more "computer network capacity in place to ensure a good viewing experience." That's an odd one. There are plenty of content delivery network options available, and if Apple eventually wanted to take the Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) route and develop its own CDN, it would make sense to spread that investment out over time.
The bottom line is that delivering a compelling TV service at a compelling price is hard, and the rules of the game are shifting rapidly. There's every reason for Apple to wait cautiously on the sideline.
But then again, the longer it waits, the more new challenges seem to be cropping up.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading