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Apple May Unveil Revolutionary TV Packaging

sg_appleApple could begin delivering a la carte pricing of broadcast and cable programming, something viewers and users of Apple’s iTunes have long demanded. According to the Wall Street Journal, insiders familiar with the issue, CBS Corp., which owns CBS television, premium cable channel ShowTime and ownership partner in the CW network, are considering participating in the plan. CBS Corp. is also involved with the Walt Disney Co., corporate owner of ABC, ESPN and the Disney Channel.

If Apple is successful in lining up enough outlets for its new service, it “could undermine the big bundles of channels that cable, satellite and telecommunications companies, including Comcast Corp. and DirecTV Inc., have traditionally sold in packages to subscribers.”

Analysts have suggested that Apple faces a battle to convince TV and cable networks to sign up and abandon profitable existing plans with cable and satellite providers.

Cable operators control 64-percent of the Internet distribution lines to consumers. Customers would pay Apple $30 a month for streaming access for programming. On average, cable companies charge Americans more than $70 a month for bundles of programming, subscribing to many channels that remain unwatched. Apple’s service would look like a music streaming service, which offers unlimited content for a flat fee. Apple will need the backing of many, upon many channel owners. However, if Apple CEO Steve Jobs can land enough deals, the company could be, like TechCrunch said, “on the verge of kneecapping the cable industry.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is offering $2 to $4 a month per user for the major networks and a charge $1 to $2 per user for cable. “The question,” as the Journal puts it,  “is whether selling fewer networks at higher prices is better business.”

Apple already sells individual TV shows from a list of content providers that includes ABC, NBC, CBS, HBO, Fox, ShowTime, MTV, Nickelodeon, Discovery, Disney, the CW and Comedy Central, but they cost $1.99 to $2.99 a pop.

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