Apple has been rumored to be working on some sort of standalone, internet-based subscription television service for years. Other rumors have claimed Apple was working with Time Warner or Comcast on set-top box software, trying to improve the user experience.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that the company continues to "pull the string" on television to see where it leads, and now, according to The Wall Street Journal, the string has finally lead Apple somewhere.
The paper cites "people familiar with the matter" who claim that Apple is preparing to launch an online television service with around 25 live, traditional broadcast and cable channels including major networks like ABC, CBS, Fox, and ESPN. The service would be announced in June at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference and then launched to the public in September.
This follows on the launch of HBO Now exclusively on the Apple TV for the first three months. HBO Now is that channel's new online subscription service, available for $15 per month without a cable or satellite subscription.
The launch of that service on Apple's hardware shows how much Apple (and its customers) value that sort of service, and it makes a nice prequel to a possible announcement for an Apple-owned television service.
Also rumored to launch at WWDC is Apple's subscription music service, adapted from the similar Beats service that Apple acquired last year.
The WSJ article claims that NBCUniversal, parent company of the NBC broadcast network, and a number of popular cable channels — including USA and Bravo — is not involved in the talks because of a "falling out" between Apple and Comcast (owner of NBCUniversal) over a possible streaming television platform partnership.
"Apple came to believe that Comcast was stringing it along while the cable giant focused on its own X1 Web-enabled set-top box, the people said."
Corporate maneuvering aside, the article claims Apple is aiming to launch the service at between $30 and $40 a month, competitive with cable and satellite services, especially since it focuses on larger cable channels like FX and ESPN, rather than including more than 100 lesser channels that are "bundled" with traditional cable subscriptions.
The current Apple proposal, which is reportedly not finalized, includes an idea for an on-demand library of shows stored in the cloud, though Apple could run into rights issues thanks to exclusive content agreements many companies have with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon for their television content.
Apple has talked up its integration of hardware, software, and services over the past year or so, emphasizing that it's the only company that controls an entire ecosystem across those three platforms and that it's uniquely positioned to deliver complete solutions to its customers.
The subscription TV service is said to be available on all Apple platforms, including the Mac, Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad.
Would you be interested in an over-the-top subscription television service from Apple? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.