Apple and Microsoft have added new channels to their streaming video devices that boost their available content. It’s a step forward for both gadgets but doesn’t break the a la carte wall just yet. Apple TV was upgraded today to include apps for Disney channels – pay TV subscription required — Vevo and the Weather Channel, while Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console added a subscription-contingent Time Warner Cable app. The latter offers access to 300 TV channels including CNN, AMC and Comedy Central. Blair Westlake, corporate VP of Microsoft’s media and entertainment group, told the Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog that his company had considered licensing channels directly from media companies to create a service similar to the kinds of online cable TV products planned by Intel and Sony. “We looked at it and said if we can deliver an app or apps like the one we are lighting up today” with Time Warner Cable, that’s “really what people expect.”
Talks with cable companies and TV networks about just such a plan “seem to be heating up,” according to a blog post by former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin. This would be a premium service for Apple, she says — and distributors have an incentive to consider the idea because the consumer electronics company would compensate them for the revenues they’d lose. Apple CEO Tim Cook and SVP Eddy Cue raised the idea with some execs last week at Allen & Co’s Sun Valley mogulfest, Lessin says. The company has been working for years to develop its own TV set and service; last year Cook called it “an area of intense interest for us.” But owners of TV rights have a good thing going with pay TV providers, and for the most part have been unimpressed with Apple’s efforts to join the club. Apple’s idea to compensate them for ad skipping “seems unlikely to be enough to convince them” to change their minds, Lessin says. Networks fear that tech companies such as Apple ultimately want to offer programming a la carte, instead of in the current bundles that require subscribers to pay for channels that they don’t watch. Without bundling, the TV ecosystem would lose about half of its value — now estimated at $70B — with only 20 channels able to survive, Needham & Co analyst Laura Martin said in a report yesterday.
CUPERTINO, California—June 19, 2013—Apple today announced that HBO GO and WatchESPN are now available directly on Apple TV joining the great lineup of programming offered to customers. iTunes users have downloaded more than one billion TV episodes and 380 million movies from iTunes to date, and they are purchasing over 800,000 TV episodes and over 350,000 movies per day.
That’s the question of the day for Apple followers as the company’s fans on Wall Street lick their wounds from last night’s disappointing earnings report. The stock fell 12.4% today to $450.50. That’s the company’s worst one-day performance in about four years, and puts Apple shares right where they were about year ago. The company’s market value of $423B is still impressive, but a far cry from late September around the time it released the iPhone 5. Back then, investors thought it was worth more than $659B. To put this into perspective, the drop in the perceived value of Apple over the last four months amounts to more than the value of Comcast, Disney, and Viacom combined.
Apple TV Adds Video Streaming Service Watchever In Germany
Apple TV has added access to Vivendi’s streaming video subscription service Watchever in Germany. The move could open the door to more region-specific deals “where there is a strong localized offering that delivers content appealing to Apple TV owners there,” according to Next Web. Watchever offers access to whole seasons of U.S. series, movie blockbusters and international art house films for €8.99 ($11.99) per month. Purported “thousands” of available titles include AMC’s Mad Men and Breaking Bad, early seasons of HBO shows such as The Sopranos and Sex and the City and films like Slumdog Millionaire and There Will Be Blood. Netflix is not available in Germany. Amazon-owned Lovefilm, which offers both streaming and physical DVDs, is available but as with Amazon Instant Video in the U.S., it’s not available on Apple TV.
The latest contribution to the speculation about a possible Apple TV comes from a survey commissioned by Morgan Stanley which quizzed 1,568 heads of households in the U.S. in September. It found that 47% were at least “somewhat interested” …
BTIG’s Rich Greenfield is one of the few media analysts who also seems to use and critique just about every video gadget that’s ever been made. So people who are betting that Apple is about to make huge profits from a TV set that will revolutionize consumers’ relationship with the tube should pay attention to his warning this morning: It “will take longer to come to fruition than investors are likely expecting.” His view jibes with that of his BTIG colleague, Walt Piecyk, who on Monday downgraded Apple to “neutral,” in part because of his conclusion that ”no Apple TV will be released this year.” The belief that Apple is about to upend the TV market, just as it has done with music and phones, spread last year. Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson quoted the late CEO saying that he finally “cracked” a way to make the viewing process simple and elegant. Greenfield agrees that there’s an opportunity for someone to do just that. The user interfaces and remote controls from TV manufacturers and pay TV companies “are horrible – they are the polar opposite of intuitive and they certainly don’t ‘just work’,” the analyst says.
The analysis out this morning from Barclays Equity Research captures the general ambivalence on the Street about the eagerly anticipated Apple television set, which the firm expects to see as early as 2013. It envisions a TV set that blends Internet and conventional TV programming enhanced by features including Apple’s Siri voice controls and an iSight camera and microphone. “Apple’s eventual television could be so much more than a TV — including gaming, video communication, content delivery, apps, computing and all the capabilities of the current Apple TV — that it is really not fair to compare it to products already on the market,” Barclays says. The TVs probably wouldn’t need to be connected to a cable set top box; they could use CableCARDs to unscramble the providers’ signal. Although that would mean no access to the operator’s VOD, Barclays says that consumers won’t mind because they’ll be able to connect to services such as Netflix and Hulu. Barclays estimates that Apple could generate $17B in revenues it it takes 5% of the TV set market.
We may have to wait for Apple to unveil its much-rumored and allegedly revolutionary television set, or even the next iteration of the iPhone, in order to see how the tech giant hopes to rock the infotainment world. That’s because, at first glance, Hollywood execs and analysts say that the new iPad is virtually a non-event: It says more about Apple’s desire to protect its share of tablet sales from rivals including Amazon and Samsung — or upcoming devices built around Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system — than it does about any plan to shake up media. “There’s nothing game-changing” about it, says one Hollywood exec. To be sure, people say that iPad’s new HD screen and 4G broadband should improve the video-watching experience for consumers. The enhancements also will help iPad to remain the supplemental device of choice. “It will accelerate the development of the dual screen world, and the end of the set-top box” as pay TV providers try to shift TV control capabilities to tablets, says independent analyst Chris Dixon. But the updated tablet is still dinged as being
Apple CEO Tim Cook vigorously defended his company today from charges that it has enabled the Chinese companies that produce iPhones, iPads and other products to mistreat workers with low pay, long hours, and unsafe conditions. “No one in our industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple,” he told the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. “We care about every worker.” Although he says “the supply chain is complex” he adds that every worker has a right to competitive wages as well as fair and safe working conditions. “Apple suppliers must live up to this in order to do business with Apple,” he says. He added that hiring of children is “extremely rare in our supply chain, but our objective is to eliminate it totally.” He called use of child labor “a firing offense.” Apple also says it has found violations to its rule capping work at 60 hours a week but has begun to “manage working hours on a very micro basis….We can do better and we’re taking the unprecedented step of reporting this monthly on our website so its transparent.”
Apple has approached Rogers Communications and Bell Canada Enterprises to determine their interest in becoming partners for a north-of-the-border launch of the much-rumored but still unconfirmed iTV, The Globe And Mail reports. One of the paper’s unnamed sources …
That would seem to be the case according to a survey from Best Buy, landed by the website The Verge, on a day that’s been filled with Apple TV speculation. The site says that Best Buy offered survey participants an opportunity to “be one of the first” to get a 42-inch Apple HDTV for $1,499. It would include Web download features from the Apple TV set top box, iCloud storage, the ability to use an iPad or iPhone as a remote control, an iSight camera and microphone that can be used for Skype calls, and access to streaming video from Netflix, YouTube, and flickr. The come-on says that Apple “finally reinvents what a TV can do.” Meanwhile, Jefferies & Co analyst Peter Misek served up an in-depth look at what he thinks an Apple iTV might do based on “our checks and an analysis of Apple’s patents.” He says there’s just a “remote” possibility that Apple would try to land exclusive content right away to challenge pay TV.