$30 to Watch Cable via iTunes?

$30 to Watch Cable via iTunes?

Gregory Han
Nov 2, 2009

As a household with an Apple TV and that also recently cut cable to save money each month, we're really intrigued with all this talk about a monthly subscription service that would deliver TV programs via iTunes...

Peter Kafka of MediaMemo and All Things Digital reports Apple has been courting TV networks in recent weeks to break the cable service paradigm and shift some of their resources to where many viewers are now watching content: on their computers. It is unclear whether the proposed subscription service Apple is pitching is an a la carte plan or prepackaged; it's quite clear more customers would want to pick and choose their subscription lineup, but we're uncertain if broadcasters would bend to this system.

Apple (AAPL) isn't tying the proposed service to a specific piece of hardware, like its underwhelming Apple TV box or its long-rumored tablet/slate device. Instead, the company is presenting the offer as an extension of its iTunes software and store, which already has 100 million customers.

A so-called "over the top" service could theoretically rival the ones most consumers already buy from cable TV operators – if Apple is able to get enough buy-in from broadcast and cable TV programmers.

That's a big if: Apple has told industry executives it wants to launch the service early next year, but I have yet to hear of a single programmer that has made a firm commitment to the company, which has tasked iTunes boss Eddy Cue with promoting the idea.

Personally, a $30/monthly plan sounds like a fair price if viewers were afforded greater control of content compared to what cable/DSS providers offer, with additional fees for premium channels or packages. Streaming video to our television from our computer isn't much of a worry, but common sense dictates any future of iTunes would offer streaming video to an external source in the same manner iTunes works with external audio speakers. Even then, will people shift from a passive technology like standard cable television to something more (inter)active as an iTunes-based system? We can only say we're ready here to join that next step when the networks stop holding hands with cable providers...

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