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Apple Live TV: A Timeline of Leaks

December 9, 2015, 1:27 PM UTC
Apple Inc. To Unveil iPhone 6S And Apple TV
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks during an Apple product announcement in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. Apple Inc. introduced a larger iPad with a 12.9-inch screen, designed to attract business users and jump-start demand for its tablets. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images

At an industry gathering in New York Tuesday, Lester Moonves, CEO of CBS, put his foot in it.

With or without Apple’s (AAPL) permission he offered the press an update on the company’s not-so-secret plans to do an end run around your local TV provider and stream live television over the Internet.

The plans, he said, are “on hold”—but also very much alive.

“I think they pressed the hold button,” Moonves said, according Business Insider, which organized the conference.

“This will happen,” he added, according to several accounts. “People will not be spending money on channels they don’t want to watch.”

Moonves is just the latest TV executive to talk out of school about Apple’s on-again, off-again plans to fix the TV experience that Tim Cook once described as “stuck in the seventies.”

The leaks date back to 2009. Here’s a timeline:

Nov. 2009. Apple’s iTunes Pitch: TV for $30 a Month, All Things D. “Apple has told industry executives it wants to launch the service early next year.”

March 2015. Apple Plans Web TV Service in Fall, Wall Street Journal. “The idea is to offer consumers a ‘skinny’ bundle with well-known channels like CBS, ESPN and FX, while leaving out the many smaller networks in the standard cable TV package.”

March, 2015. Here Comes The Long Awaited New Apple TV. BuzzFeed News. “Apple currently intends to show the device off at its annual World Wide Developers Conference in June.”

June, 2015. Apple Subscription TV Service Won’t Be Announced Next Week. re/code. “Industry executives predict Apple’s Web TV offering may not launch until later this year, or in 2016.”

June, 2015. Apple Postpones Debut Of New Apple TV. BuzzFeed News. “Apple hasn’t yet finalized the network deals it feels are key to a successful go-to-market strategy.”

August, 2015. Munster: Apple streaming TV is 50/50 for Sept. 9 event. Fortune. “We believe Apple’s eventual content offering will include the majority of the network channels plus major cable offerings like ESPN, AMC, TNT, and TBS.”

Dec. 2015. Apple Said to Suspend Effort to Develop Live TV Service. Bloomberg. “Apple Inc. has suspended plans to offer a live Internet-based television service and is instead focusing on being a platform for media companies to sell directly to customers through its App Store, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.”

Dec. 2015. Why Apple Walked Away From TV (For Now). re/code. If Apple gets its way, it means the traditional pay TV package, which averages around 100 channels, will get shrunk by nearly 80 percent. And while TV executives will say they understand that consumers don’t want to pay for channels they don’t watch, all of them will argue that their channels are must-haves.”

We’ll believe Apple Live TV when we see it. Meanwhile, rumors that it was coming probably didn’t hurt sales of the new Apple TV set-top box. Word that it’s on hold probably won’t help.

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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