News and Analysis

There’s a story circulating today regarding Apple and television so the media of course is going wild.
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The story? writes that Apple is trying to sell HBO, Showtime and Starz in a single bundle rather than as separate units. (Apple now sells the three channels separately.) writes that if Apple can persuade the three channels to go along, it might be…

“Unlike anything we’ve seen…” seems to forget that pay TV operators often bundle the premium channels together in promotional offers. In addition, PlayStation Vue’s Ultra Slim plan, which costs $64.99 a month, now includes both HBO and Showtime.  (Starz isn’t included in Ultra Slim, but I don’t think its addition would suddenly make it “unlike anything we’ve seen.”)

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So, uh, no this would not be “unlike anything we’ve ever seen.” also seems to think that the premium channels would be featured in a broader package from Apple which would include some basic cable channels. However, the article notes that Apple has sworn off the idea of selling a package of cable channels online. isn’t the only media outlet gushing over Apple today. Business Insider writes that the story “suggests that Apple hasn’t given up on its plans to shake up the living room just yet.”

Selling HBO, Showtime and Starz in one package would hardly shake up ‘the living room,’ or any living room, for that matter.

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But this is Apple. When there’s a story about the company allegedly flirting with television, tech reporters run en masse to their laptops to file ‘Apple to Change TV Forever’ pieces. But over and over, the stories turn out to be dead wrong, or at least, inflated in importance.

Apple has yet to revolutionize television, as it has promised to do for several years. To date, its only real TV-related product has been the Apple TV, a set-top that borrows features from others (Roku, TiVo, even cable DVRs.) rather than introduce new ones.

The company has demonstrated time and time again that it doesn’t understand television at all. But company execs love to criticize it, and I suspect, leak stories about how they can fix its ‘many problems’ if only those stuffed shirts at pay TV headquarters would let them.

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Apple may wind up offering a three-premium plan some day, or it may not. Either way, it will not shake up anything in the world of television.

You can bet on that.

— Phillip Swann