Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) still wants to include local station feeds of the Big Four broadcast networks in a new over-the-top video service, and the company has reportedly found a way to handle the tricky problem of carving out licensing deals with hundreds of local network-affiliate stations.
According to the New York Post, instead of chasing down licensing agreements with each individual affiliate station, Apple is delegating the task of signing individual TV stations to their respective affiliated broadcast networks like CBS and Fox.
Executives at CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox have said they're talking to their affiliate reps at station groups including Sinclair and Tribune, pitching them on a revenue-sharing arrangement with Apple.
"Apple has a lot of reach and this is a good opportunity," said one network source to the Post.
Sticking points remain, according to the paper. For example, Apple wants offer discounts to customers who sign up for the service at its retail stores, and is reportedly asking program licensees to sacrifice as much as 30 percent of their per-sub fee for those customers.
And it's unclear whether Apple's service will include cable channels.
Apple has long been rumored to be developing an OTT service. In offering local broadcast TV stations, Apple's service could be compared with Aereo, Barry Diller's scuttled streaming service that streamed broadcast TV feeds to mobile devices. However, that service didn't include license payments to broadcasters, and as a result its business model was subsequently invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court 13 months ago.
But if Apple is looking to be the true successor to Aereo, it's late to the party. On Sunday, Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) announced a new $15-a-month service called Stream, which offers OTT access to the Big Four, plus HBO, for mobile devices. The big catch is that it requires a Comcast Xfinity broadband subscription.
- read this New York Post story
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