Apple has been trying for nearly a decade to find a way to let you watch the programs you want without having to pay for channels and services you never use.
But they’ve been fought every inch of the way by the men in the middle: Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and every other cable company that controls the last mile — the pipes that deliver TV, Internet and phone service to the home. These local monopolies like the way they run their highly profitable businesses. Why would they ever stop?
Two things changed.
- The FCC announced net neutrality rules last fall that sharply limit how much Internet service providers can charge for different tiers of services — including high-bandwidth streaming video.
- Apple has been rapidly building out its own worldwide server capacity — deploying a so-called content delivery network (CDN) for delivering programming and services to end users.
Apple is now both an originator and transporter of network packets over the Internet. The balance of power has changed.
The result is new services like Apple’s exclusive $15-per-month HBO Now deal announced last week and a 25-channel Web TV deal that Apple will reportedly announce in June.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is in talks with programmers to offer a “skinny” bundle of highly desired channels like ABC, CBS, ESPN and FX, that strips out the smaller, less popular networks included in standard cable TV packages.
Starting in September, according to the Journal, anyone with Internet access and an iOS device — iPhone, iPad or Apple TV — will finally be in a position to cut the cable TV cord for $30 to $40 a month.
Count me in.
UPDATE: Analysis from Bernstein’s Toni Sacconaghi.