The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple’s plans for a revamped Apple TV have been scaled back a bit compared to what the company initially intended. The great metropolitan daily says that Apple originally approached media companies with the aim of obtaining content rights for an a-la-carte type Internet enable set-top box, but has since pulled back on the reins of the plan a bit.
In the current discussions, which involve at least two big media companies, Apple envisages working with cable companies, rather than competing against them, the people said. For programming, it would rely on cable providers to acquire programming rights from media companies, rather than acquire them on its own, the people said. Apple might consider seeking some rights directly in the future, one of the people said.
Apple had attempted to negotiate with companies such as CBS and Disney, with the plan to offer the networks’ content directly to Apple TV users, thereby cutting out the middle man. (Cable and satellite provides.) However, the networks pulled out of negotiations, fearing they would damage current revenue streams.
Apple had plans to erase the distinctions between live and on-demand TV, allowing users to access any show any time via iCloud, and allowing them to skip commercials as well. Apple even explored the possibility of paying more for ad-free content.
Apple is now negotiating with content suppliers following the Hulu model. That streaming service gives users access to the five most recent episodes of a series, not the entire season. Apple is also proposing to disable fast-forwarding on shows for three days after they air, which would protect TV channels.
Apple has reportedly been negotiating with cable provider Time Warner Cable for some time, however those talks may now be in jeopardy, as of today’s news that Comcast will be acquiring TWC in an all-stock deal. Comcast has not been as willing to talk to Apple as TWC has been.