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Apple to up-end TV with $30 iTunes subscription?

updated 01:10 pm EST, Mon November 2, 2009

iTunes TV sub would rival traditional TV

Apple could upturn the entire TV market by offering an iTunes TV subscription service, a prominent rumor says today. iTunes head Eddy Cue is believed to be pitching the idea of a $30 monthly plan that would give users much broader access, much like conventional TV. The exact terms aren't specified by the "multiple" MediaMemo tips but wouldn't confine the service to a single device.

No studios have yet committed to the idea, though Steve Jobs' position on the Disney board would likely help that company's media wing get onboard. Others are believed to be "intrigued" but not yet ready to sign on.

A plan of the sort if implemented with enough studio support would potentially upset the TV industry, particularly online. TV viewing has largely been limited either to per-episode purchases like at iTunes, Vudu or Zune Marketplace or else to streaming and usually free services like Hulu or individual networks' websites. Netflix allows TV viewing through its subscription streams but usually just for a small number of older titles.

Opposition to any deal would most likely come under pressure from traditional cable and satellite providers, either of which stands to lose their traditional, lucrative TV package subscribers to Internet-only accounts. Some have tried to reduce the incentive to move to online-exclusive video by offering Internet video as a bonus while others like Time Warner Cable have been accused of trying to discourage Internet video by trialing tiered services with low caps where they previously offered unlimited service.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Climb AZ

    Joined: Dec 1969



    still waiting for Apple to buy Tivo and be done with it. Built in blue ray player.

  1. bjojade

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not Tivo

    They aren't going to 'buy' Tivo when they can build their own.

    I do wish AppleTV could have a TV tuner input though. Then I wouldn't need to use a Mac Mini. (which doesn't get all the features of AppleTV for some reason!)

  1. siromega

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Add OTA signals and I'm in

    All Apple would need to do for me is to add an OTA tuner to pick up my local channels (for news and such) and that would be it. I still think they can ditch the HDD and just go with 8GB of flash for the OS and to store a few shows.

    If nothing else, maybe cable has to start keeping their prices in check.

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    prospective customer

    As someone who just moved and hasn't set up cable or satellite, this might be a workable option. That is, until we want to watch live sporting events.

    Does iTMS support anything for sports broadcasts that's anywhere close to real time?

  1. markedman1132

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This rumor has been hashed around every 6 months for the last several years.

    I would love the idea, but it's hard not be skeptical when it has been rumored so many times before and never has occurred. But I guess they keep getting me to read their articles.

  1. Zeeb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I hope Cable dies

    Cable TV is such a racket. In my market we paid nearly $111 dollars a month to watch cable TV--until we realized most of our favorite shows were broadcast free in HD. I got an antenna, and I recieve crystal clear, uncompressed HD resolution for FREE over the air. If I miss a show I'll watch it on Hulu or directly at the network's website. People say they need cable for sports but they are also broadcast free in my area.

    Outside of re-broadcast network content there isn't much on cable that is substantial. Mostly brain dead reality shows and low budget documentaries that are shown 100 times a day. How many times do I need to watch an Ice Road Trucker drive down an icey road?

    I'd love an ala-carte subscription service directly online. The only network I kinda miss is HBO.

  1. coitus

    Joined: Dec 1969


    ATV Subscription

    If Apple decided to actually invest a little obsessive-compulsive, do a product right, mind-set to their device it could be much more compelling. I like the notion of buying TiVo, not that it would ever happen. Apple certainly could gobble them up and have a built-in audience which would then migrate to future hardware upgrades.

    I loathe cable companies. Only thing I dislike more is AT&T. However, until another option is available...I remained tethered to both. Come on Apple, do the ATV right for a change.

  1. pairof9s

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Zeeb is right

    Cable companies are biting the hand that feeds. Each year I have to threaten to leave them so I can renew my "limited time discount rate"...not that they couldn't do this for me automatically as a loyal customer. I recently had them downgrade my supposed upper tier to a basic bill went from $110 to $50 (this include broadband internet), but I didn't lose a single channel!!

    But the Mac mini w/ an EyeTV 250 and Remote Buddy control software has more than supplemented by entire needs, but for one...sports. The live aspect of sports make it the one genre that requires me to maintain cable. Tried looking into ESPN's 360 but it's a rather limited schedule with very few if any popular live events like major college football or NFL.

    Otherwise, I'd be 100% ala-carte which I think is the future...choose what you want, when you want to see. Why should I subsidize the Hallmark or Style channel when I want Discovery and ESPN?!


  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Not tivo

    They aren't going to 'buy' Tivo when they can build their own.

    I do wish AppleTV could have a TV tuner input though. Then I wouldn't need to use a Mac Mini. (which doesn't get all the features of AppleTV for some reason!)

    Apple can't make a better TiVo. Sorry guys, it's too good at what it does. Apple could pretty the interfaces, but they can't make it as smart, since TiVo has patents on certain things.

    And they are NEVER going to add a tuner to the AppleTV. Get over it! Apple is using the device to sell content through the iTMS. They have no desire for you to record OTA broadcasts, as they'd have less to sell you. This is also why they never put a DVD drive in the thing.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Stupid article

    BTW, you'll note this whole article is based completely on a one statement: "iTunes head is pitching idea for...". That's it. The guy has an idea, and he's throwing it at some content providers. If the article was "Content providers interested in....", then you'd have something to talk about.

    And does anyone here really think the content providers are going to say "We currently get $1.99 per episode. If we go to a subscription model, we can probably get a fraction of that per episode. Hey, let's do it!"

    Right now, this is all just wishful thinking on everyone's part.

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