Back in 2011 Steve Jobs was reported to have told autobiographer Walter Isaacson that he had "finally cracked" television, but four years after the death of the iconic Apple co-founder, the company has reportedly put its plans to launch a subscription TV service on hold as it struggles to come up with a viable offer for customers of its Apple TV set-top box.
According to CBS Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves, who said last year that a streaming deal with Apple was likely, Apple has put its plans "on hold" and the reason, according to a source speaking to Bloomberg, is an unwillingness by content owners to lower their price. The anonymous source said Apple's plan was "to sell a package of 14 or so channels for $30 to $40 a month," but with a typical cable package costing $85 a month, media companies are reluctant to sell their content for less to Apple.
Apple launched its fourth-generation Apple TV earlier this year and for the first time offered an App Store on its set-top box through which developers can publish and sell their apps. Among those Apple hopes will develop apps will be media companies, like Tim Warner, which has launched its HBO Now service on Apple TV for $15 a month. Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier this year said that "apps are the future of TV," possibly indicating that Apple was struggling to come up with a viable package of channels for customers.
However, despite the problems Apple is encountering, Moonves believes that the company will eventually come up with a proposition that works for everyone. “This will happen,” Moonves said at the Business Insider Ignition conference on Tuesday. “It has four major networks and 10 cable networks, let’s say, and the price point will be in the $30s, $30 to $35, $40 maybe. People will not be spending money on channels they don’t want to watch,” he added.
The TV sector is going through a seismic transformation at the moment, with companies and services like Netflix, Amazon, Verizon and Google all competing with Apple to offer an alternative to a monthly cable subscription. The so-called cord-cutting revolution saw top pay-TV providers lose 190,000 video (non-Internet) subscriptions in the third quarter of 2015. That, however, was just a drop in the ocean compared to the 625,000 subscriptions lost in the previous quarter, the biggest drop in history, according to research from SNL Kagan.
Apple is competing with the likes of Amazon, which has indicated it will offer a live TV service through its Fire TV set-top box as well as announced that it will sell subscriptions to Showtime and Starz-On-Demand to its Prime customers for $8.99 a month. Furthermore, Google has just launched its YouTube Red subscription service and has indicated that it will attempt to become a significant presence in this market by challenging Netflix and Amazon for the rights to stream TV shows and films.