Apple TV (teaser 001)

Hot on the heels of releasing the Apple TV 5.3 software which enabled access to Disney’s WatchESPN and HBO Go through the $99 set-top box, Bloomberg now reports that the iPhone maker is on the cusp of announcing a major agreement with Time Warner Cable.

The gist of the story: the deal would give subscribers of the cable television service access to channels via the Apple TV. HBO, of course, is owned by Time Warner, under the operating subsidiary Home Box Office Inc.

But it gets even better: Apple is apparently hiring away Hulu executive Pete Distad to help Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services, in negotiations with media and cable companies. An agreement will be reportedly announced “in a few months”. Tuesday news doesn’t get any bigger than this…

Bloomberg notes that Apple is working behind the scenes to poach Hulu’s SVP of Marketing and Distribution, Pete Distad, to help with the effort:

The iPhone maker is also hiring Pete Distad from online-video service Hulu, where he was senior vice president in charge of marketing and distribution, to help Apple executives in negotiations with media and cable companies, two people with familiar with the matter said.

Pete’s LinkedIn profile at press time listed Hulu as his current employer.

That Apple needed to hire a Hollywood veteran to lead negotiations could also be a sign Eddy Cue – SVP in charge of Apple’s cloud services and iTunes content – and his team can’t get the job done themselves.

It is also entirely possible that Time Warner Cable is working with Apple on putting a paywall’d app on Apple TV’s Home screen, much in the same way HBO Go requires a cable subscription to stream shows to Apple’s set-top box.

In fact, that’s exactly how the current TWC TV iOS and Roku app operates.

The development is interesting in light of the rumors of a standalone Apple-branded television set, which continue to persist.

Whether or not Apple is in fact secretly developing an iTV remains to be seen – Apple declined working on a smartphone, a tablet, a video iPod and other products that later came to be.

That the company has lately been cutting major content deals left and right gives us plenty of reasons to believe that there could be some fire to go along with this smoke.