Apple is back in TV news with a report that the company is busy convincing programmers to let it sell their shows as a pay-TV OTT service.
As Recode points out in its report, this is hardly the first time Apple has been rumored to be trying to break into TV. But things are different now.
Apple does have its Apple TV streaming box in a lot of homes but that device doesn’t achieve the fundamental TV experience overhaul for which Tim Cook is searching.
Dish Network’s incoming Sling TV does. The new service, which arguably stole the show at CES 2015, packages together live, linear TV into $20 bundles and delivers it to subscribers in an all-IP format. Any device with a Wi-Fi connection, including a lot of smart TVs, will be able to use Sling TV.
It may not take off right away and it certainly isn’t ideal for every consumer, but it does have landscape-altering potential. And Sling TV is a big reason the new reports of Apple’s TV ambitions can be taken with fewer grains of salt.
Dish has been able to put live TV on the Internet and keep it from being cost-prohibitive. The satellite-TV provider has heeded the quiet protests of hordes of cord cutters. It compelled them through a willingness to cannibalize its own subscriber base, something that Apple could never do.
Dish closed its third quarter with just more than 14 million subscribers, relatively flat with the head count it had in year-ago quarter. As its subscriber growth has plateaued, the company has ramped up initiatives that truly work in consumer’s best interests.
The Dish Hopper set-top box let customers automatically skip commercials. Dish appears to be the only pay-TV company that bakes Netflix directly into its boxes. And now Dish is willing to fly directly in the face of its core business model by offering scalable OTT TV packages, subverting the channel bloat of traditional cable.
Sony and other companies have OTT TV services in the works. And it’s likely a safe bet that Apple will eventually take a crack at the market, too. But Dish is paving the way for all of them and that says a lot about the company’s willingness to embrace instead of fight against consumer demands.