Apple’s rumored TV service to include local stations, likely won’t launch by early fall

iTV concept (iTV or Apple TV, Martin Hajek 001)

Apple’s rumored television services hinges on the company’s ability to sign complex agreements that would permit it to include live programming from local stations, Re/code reported Friday.

Persuading broadcasters to back Apple’s $30-40 per month service with local news and sports content has proven a much tougher nut to crack than originally thought, mostly due to complicated local broadcasting market structure, meaning the service is likely to be delayed.

“Industry executives familiar with Apple’s plans say the company wants to provide customers in cities around the U.S. with programming from their local broadcast stations,” author Peter Kafka wrote.

“That means that Apple may not be ready to launch a Web TV service in early fall, as it has told programmers it would like to do,” he wrote. And because industry executives “don’t believe Apple has signed any TV programmers up for its service,” a formal announcement at WWDC next month is unlikely.

One important aspect of Apple’s rumored service is its ubiquity: it should stream live programming to every Apple device, not just to the Apple TV set-top box.

“This is supposed to be for 30 million people,” said one executive who has talked to Apple and who believes local TV will be part of Apple’s offering.

Providing local programming would admittedly distinguish Apple’s planned offering from the likes of Sony and Dish’s Sling, which Kafka notes to date have only offered local programming in a handful of cities, or none at all.

“Apple’s ambitions have complicated its negotiations with the broadcast TV networks, because most broadcasters don’t own all their local stations, and have an affiliate, or franchise system,” reads the article.

Indeed, as Re/code’s analysis explained earlier this month, local broadcasting market structure, sports rights and the role of live-streaming may prompt Apple to initially offer regional, not national service, as opposed to biting the bullet and doing the complicated deals.

For example, ABC spent two years clearing the rights to show live programming via its Watch ABC mobile app. Complicating matter further, streaming live programming from dozens of affiliates to Apple users is likely to require the broadcasters to build a whole new streaming infrastructure.

Re/code said last month that Apple indeed wants its supposed partners to handle the cost of their own streaming infrastructure for the rumored television service.

For what it’s worth, content owners believe Apple’s service will see the light of day sooner than later as it’s mostly a matter of money, not technology.

Source: Re/code